NMC wants to raise wages to 85 pct. of peer institutions

Regent approves $7.9M budget proposal for FY’15

Based on the budget it proposes for the next fiscal year, the Northern Marianas College wants to raise the wages of all its employees, including its president, to 85 percent of the average salaries of peer institutions.

The Board of Regents agreed yesterday to endorse the salary hikes in the proposed $7.9 million budget the college will submit to Gov. Eloy S. Inos.

Based on the college’s analysis, the wage increase will cost some $886,00, of which $200,000 will go to faculty members.

The budget proposal for fiscal year 2015 is $3.1 million more than what NMC is currently getting. NMC’s budget for fiscal year 2014 totaled $4.6 million. Its original proposal was $6.3 million.

Saipan Tribune learned that NMC’s proposal for fiscal year 2015 is similar to what it originally asked for in fiscal year 2013, when only $5.2 million was actually approved by the Legislature.

Based on budget documents issued yesterday, NMC proposes to increase its number of employees from the current 117 to 136 next fiscal year, which mean 19 added posts.

Of the $7.9 million proposal, personnel costs will get the bulk at $7.1 million. Of that amount $886,000 will be used to adjust the salaries of all employees.

The college is also seeking $671,452 for utilities while $78,583 will pay for the mandated 1-percent share of the Office of the Public Auditor.

‘Where is NMC among its peers?’ 

Human resource director and legal counsel Christopher Timmons disclosed yesterday that certain employees at NMC are at 50 percent of the average salary of their peer institutions while others are at 85 percent.

As an example, he cited some employees at the NMC finance department who currently earn way below—about at 40 percent—the average salary that their counterparts are receiving in peer institutions.

Timmons said that all of the college’s 117 personnel will be covered by the salary adjustments once funding is officially identified and certified by the board.

As for NMC employees who are already earning at 85 percent or above the average salary of peer institutions, college president Dr. Sharon Y. Hart made one thing clear: “We are not going to lower anyone, but we’re not raising those who are already earning at 85 percent or above.”

For example, if a dean is found earning $52,000 per annum at NMC and 85 percent of the average salary for the same position at peer institutions is at $57,000 per year, the dean will see an increase of $5,000.

“We look at every single position in the college. We have some employees who are earning above [the target 85 percent average], but we have a lot of folks who are way below the average,” said Hart.

She said a number of employees may receive larger adjustments because they’ve been with the college for so long, yet earn a salary way below their peers institutions.

What if budget is rejected?

In the event the proposed budget for NMC is not approved, Hart said that NMC remains firm in its goal to implement the salary adjustments, even if it takes revising the “target percentage.”

“If the Legislature, for example, only gives us $350,000 for the salary increase…the amount will not be divided among all our employees. Instead…we will go back to the board and see if we can lower the target 85 percent to maybe 75 percent [of the average salary of peer institutions],” she explained.

Hart pointed out that among the reasons why the college’s accreditation was put at risk is the concern about “administrative capacity.”

“We’re becoming a revolving door where people are coming in and people are going out. The commission was very clear to us: You have to have a strong administrative base at NMC,” said Hart, adding that the salary adjustment plan presented to the commission helped the college reaffirm its accreditation.

The college’s proposed budget is also strategically focused around the College Completion Agenda, where there are national college degree attainment goals, which is leading states to set new policies and practices, according to Hart.

Moneth G. Deposa | Reporter

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