Money cut from state appropriations in FY16 finding its way to OCCC at last
OCCC President Jerry Steward
OCCC President Jerry Steward

Though Oklahoma City Community College is expected to receive more than $729,000 from the state budget surplus, most of those funds will be stashed in a savings account, President Jerry Steward told the school’s Board of Regents last week.

Speaking at a Board of Regents meeting on Sept. 19, Steward said OCCC expects to receive about $528,000 in the state budget surplus fund from fiscal year 2016. And most of that money, he said, will be saved.

“We’re not just going to start spending it.” he said.

Steward said OCCC also expects to receive an additional $184,000 which is earmarked for the schools’ concurrent enrollment program and $17,000 to be used for capital projects or improvements.

The funds are the college’s share of the $20.7 million returned to State Regents for Higher Education from the Oklahoma Legislature.

In a recent web post, the Oklahoma State Regents For Higher Education said they have set aside a portion of the surplus to go into Concurrent Enrollment programs at campuses across the state in a $2.3 million allocation.

“While the concurrent enrollment budget request has never been fully funded, these earmarked dollars will restore funding from 35 percent to 62 percent of the total cost to the institutions,” the post on the regent’s website said.

State Representative Dennis Casey, R-Morrison, a member of the House of Representatives Higher Ed and Career Tech Committee, said lawmakers support concurrent enrollment due to the benefit it brings to students.

“Students don’t pay that tuition, and the main motivating factor is that these students during their Junior and Senior year of high school are getting up to twenty or thirty hours of college credits,” he said.

Casey, a former CareerTech superintendent, said the classes student are taking come with no strings attached, and these students can get a feel to prepare for higher education.

The surplus funds became available after the projections on last year’s budget overcompensated in calculating revenue failure, which served as a margin of error for the state budget.

“The money just didn’t appear, the budget was cut too much by one percent,” said State Senator Kyle Loveless, R-Oklahoma City.  Loveless said the legislation didn’t have any discretion on the the distribution of those funds.

OCCC Chief Financial Officer John Boyd said the college’s budget was cut by $2.4 million, after the Oklahoma Legislature declared a revenue failure.

“We’ve already prepared our budget for seventeen, so what we’ve budgeted for expenditure is all we can spend,” Boyd said. If received, money could be spent in FY 2017, but Boyd said the funds are expected to be used in the plan for the FY 2018 budget as a carryover.

Boyd said OCCC is still waiting on the bulk of the allocated funds to be paid.

“All we’ve received, to date, is the seventeen thousand of section thirteen money. We have not been told how the five hundred and eight thousand will be received, we’ve been told it will be part of our base allocation for FY17,” he said.

Boyd said the college has not been informed of how the allocation will occur or if it will occur. “We could have another revenue failure. Then those additional monies will be taken right out of our budget,” he said.

“Until I have the money in the bank, those are just words to me. I’m not going to hold my breath.”

Boyd also said the money could potentially be spent on fees related to the FACE Center investigation. The FY 2017 budget has a “contingency fund” dedicated to legal fees, as “any college our size is going to have professional service fees,” worked into the budget.

For more than a month, OCCC administrators have been investigation allegations for fraud and potential violations of the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act at the FACE Center.

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