LCC Faces $400,000 Deficit - How Will It Fill the Gap?

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Like so many other government bodies in Michigan, the Board of Trustees at Lansing Community College is dealing with a deficit. Will it mean higher taxes or higher tuition?

The $400,000 deficit has been pared down from a budget gap of more than $3 million initially presented to the board. Departments inside the college were able to trim away much of the original deficit, according to budget documents given to trustees.

The millage option is one for which the board sought a legal opinion. Lawyers for the college say LCC could ask for a small millage increase -- roughly .2 mills.

But it's just one option to solve the budget gap.

"Yes you could go to increase the mill, but no, I'm not in favor of increasing the millage. I don't think we need to at this point. I think we can look at other ways of streamlining," Trustee Kathy Pelleran said.

Part of the reason streamlining is necessary is the nearly $1 million that had to be added to the budget to fix LCC's troubled enrollment and financial aid computer system.

Pelleran says the college could downsize the deficit by hiking tuition for out-of-district students, although an overall tuition hike is possible.

That and other options are included in a memo presented to trustees at a budget workshop March 20th. Restructuring degree programs is another possible solution.

"For an associates degree if we only need 66 credits, but we're requiring 72, then maybe we're asking for 10 more credits than are necessary," Pelleran said.

Also on the list: A hiring freeze, keeping vacant positions vacant, and laying off regular workers.

Another option, says Pelleran, is increased fees.

"At the main campus we require students to pay for parking," which isn't the case at other LCC facilities.

Items like parking fees may be easier for the board to go along with, than say, a millage.

But Pelleran says there is a reason all the solutions are on the table.

"The equation has to be there ... it has to balance out when we pass our budget. And that's what we'll do," she said.

Trustee Mark Canady, a frequent opponent of Pelleran and board Chairman Chris Laverty in college matters, said late Tuesday he wouldn't support a millage or tuition increase.

-- in Lansing, Tony Tagliavia, News 10.