Photo Credit: PB Archives
By Danielle Cruz
The 2018 Fiscal Year saw York College enter into a $1.5 Million budget deficit that led to York administrators enacting a hard hiring freeze and budget cuts to various departments in an effort to reduce spending.
Despite these efforts the budget deficit is still projected to rise to $2.7 million by the end of the 2019 Fiscal Year.
In order to generate funds to decrease the deficit, York administrators began searching for ways to generate funding, new ways to reduce energy consumption and work towards increasing student enrollment by 1.5 percent.
The hard hiring freeze, which put a hold on the hiring of all full time staff, was announced by President Marcia Keizs during her 2018 Convocation Address, where she addressed the college’s efforts to generate new revenue.
“In addition, the college implemented a hiring freeze on full-time appointments, except for positions related to life, health and safety and accreditation,” says Ismael Perez, the assistant vice president for planning and budget administrative affairs.
He added “An across-the-board expenditure reduction also went into effect, reducing the amount of funding allocated to Temporary Services (part-time staff) and OTPS expenses such as supplies, color printing, cell phone usage, travel (excluding PSC), etc.” The expenditure reduction is expected to total $1 million.
The college also reserved $1.4 million in order to support the expenses of their new collective bargaining agreement.
According to Perez, York is participating in the New York State Demand and Response Program in an effort to reduce the price of the college’s energy bill.
The program calls for York to reduce energy to certain high energy consumption systems for a certain amount of time, whenever the state initiates a Demand Response. This causes York’s energy bill to become lower than it normally would be and the rate in which they are billed during the Demand Response is the rate they will be billed the following year. The Demand Response period is usually activated during the summer when the demand for electricity in New York is at its peak.
York also has the deployed the use of software programs that are meant to determine and maintain the most efficient level of energy consumption for certain equipment in the Academic Core Building. This includes changing the lights on campus to ones that consume less energy.
“With the assistance of CUNY Central, York College is currently undertaking a lighting study to further reduce our energy consumption while improving overall lighting levels within the Academic Core Building,” said Perez. “The initial project will only be for the Academic Core but York will continue to explore ways to improve lighting efficiency in all of our buildings.”
Along with these energy and revenue saving protocols, President Keizs also established a Revenue Generating Committee in January to meet bi-weekly and discuss ways to generate funds and reduce the college’s budget deficit.
The committee was charged with finding ways “to develop and evaluate ideas to generate new revenue from diverse sources to support the College’s operations,” said Perez. “The committee was also asked to identify areas where efficiencies could be achieved and to solicit ideas from all segments of the college community.”
The Revenue Generating Committee consists of Perez and six other York College staff and faculty members: Panayiotis Meleties, the provost and vice president of Academic Affairs; Professor Margaret MacNeil, the department chair for Biology; Russell Platzek, from the office of legal affairs and labor relations; Suzette Foster-Jemmott, the business office manager; Christina Roberts, the development manager for institutional advancement and Maureen Becker, the Dean of the School of Health and Behavioral Sciences and School of Health Sciences and Professional Programs.
The committee has also received several ideas from the York community and is still looking to receive ideas from the student body on how to generate funds. At the end of April the committee will submit a report of their recommendations to President Keizs.
The budget deficit is also expected to affect school amenities, like the library.
The library is facing staggering budget cuts that will affect its ability to maintain the services and programs it already has and future services and programs that want to implement.
This year, the library’s total budget is a little over $443,000 and is meant to cover the cost of everything from books to basic office supplies. (This does include the fees for technology, which is covered by students’ tech fee that is paid through tuition.)
“I mean I don’t know if it has affected anyone quite yet because we are sort of just working through the year,” said Meredith Powers, the library’s head of electronic resources. “The fiscal year isn’t over so they may decide to give us more money before the year is over but we’ll see. So far they have given us about 10,000 dollars on our book line which as far as a book budget goes is, well you know how much a book costs, right? Like $100/$150.”
In the 2016-2017 fiscal year, the library’s budget was $510,000 and now with the college expecting to increase enrollment by 1.5%, the budget cuts will limit funding to new programs and services they want to provide.
“ So we went from $510,000 to $443,000 to $10,000 and enrollment grew at that time and we added programs, so it’s like the budget gets smaller but we also add more stuff so it is very hard to keep up with that kind of demand,” Powers said. “I know we are growing so for our budget to shrink, it just hurts. It affects whether or not we can buy new books. We want to offer more ebooks because it is more convenient for students to use and more students can use them at the same time. It (budget cuts) just limits what we can do.”
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the York College Library’s $443,000 budget did not include money obtained from students tech fee. The library’s budget does include money obtained through students’ tech fee. In fact, over $278,000 of the budget is comprised of money from the tech fee. The article has been updated to reflect this.