By NATALIE WRIGHT
Washtenaw Community College Chief Financial Officer Bill Johnson reported a $4.7 million surplus for fiscal year 2013-14 to the board of trustees at its Sept. 23 meeting.
The college’s revenue was right on budget, he said, and expenditures were down.
The college depends on three main sources of revenue, Johnson said: state aid, property taxes and tuition.
While revenue from property taxes was down more than expected, an increase in state aid and a plateau of enrollment declines helped to balance the loss, he said.
“Tuition is a really good story,” Johnson said, explaining that a year ago, under the direction of WCC President Rose Bellanca, “we put a real full-court press to understand the areas of opportunities both for student retention and for new student recruitment.”
And the college has seen results, he said. Enrollment in the Winter semester did not drop as steeply as expected, and enrollment in the Spring and Summer was up more than 10 percent.
As a result, Johnson said, actual tuition revenue came within $268,000 of the budgeted amount.
Actual expenditures were below budget by $4.9 million, Johnson said. About $2.8 million of that savings was in personnel costs.
The trustees praised Johnson’s work, saying they were happy not only with the surplus, but with the way the college achieved it.
“I think the amazing thing about this is that you accomplished this with a very, very modest tuition increase,” Trustee Pam Horiszny said. “I’m really pleased to see us doing this well without having to unnecessarily burden the students with tuition.”
In April, the board of trustees raised tuition rates 2.25 percent for the 2014-15 academic year for those who registered after July 31.
Tuition is now $93 per credit hour for in-district students, $149 for out-of-district students and $197 for out-of-state students.
Trustee Patrick McLean noted that not only was the college able to keep the tuition increases modest, it did it while tax revenue is at a low point.
“In property taxes, we seem to have found the bottom and we’re clawing our way back up,” McLean said, “but we’re not moving as fast as we might have thought.”
But overall, the numbers were good, and the college will find a use for the leftover money, all agreed.
This surplus is important to have stashed away, Johnson said.
“As you know, in previous years, under the board’s direction, we have used some of our built-up surplus to make good investments on campus, such as the parking structure,” he said.
“With this surplus, we’re able to bring the college’s total working cap allowance closer to where it needs to be.”
However, Horiszny said, it’s mostly about the financial sustainability of the college moving forward.
“It’s not about building big structures anymore; it’s about maintaining what we have,” she said. “This is pretty cool to have the flexibility to do some of that, and to be prepared.”