Fulton-Montgomery Community College will reduce its budget for the 2022-23 academic year by 3.74% as it continues to find ways to increase enrollment.
The Fulton County Board of Supervisors voted Monday to set a public hearing on the budget for Aug. 8. Montgomery County will hold a hearing at its July 26 meeting, according to county Executive Matt Ossenfort.
Both counties would be looking to approve a $17.3 million dollar budget, down from $17.9 million in 2021-22.
Each county has budgeted a $1.5 million contribution to the FMCC budget, the same amount as last year.
The budget includes $536,000 in cutbacks to salary and benefits, according to budget documents.
“This was achieved through positions that were not filled due to voluntary employee attrition (retirement and resignation),” said college President Gregory Truckenmiller. “Only one teaching position was impacted. This was a retirement that we did not fill for the upcoming year.”
Truckenmiller said nobody is happy about having to work with a smaller staff, but that “there is also a recognition of the need to ‘right-size’ the organization to reflect our current enrollment situation.”
There was also a reduction in equipment expenses by $363,500 and a decrease of just over $260,500 in maintenance and general operating expenses, according to budget documents.
“Some of those expenses in the current year were directly related to COVID-19 requirements, such as testing, protective equipment, information technology equipment and other items necessary for our institutional response,” Truckenmiller said. “Many of those expenses are no longer needed.”
The college will also use around $675,000 in unallocated funds to help offset some costs.
Tuition will also increase by $150 a year to $5,184, according to the documents.
Truckenmiller said he expects inflation to hit the college just like it’s hit everyone else, with higher energy costs and less money to spend.
“I think they were very responsible with the budget,” said Gregory Fagan, chairman of the Fulton County Board of Supervisors. Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort expressed similar sentiments.
He also noted the college is finding ways to increase enrollment.
“They’re thinking outside the box,” he said.
He said one way they’re doing that is by offering various academic programs to meet industry needs, such as a program on cannabis.
“I think it’s a forward-thinking idea that reflects the world we live in,” Ossenfort said about the program.
Interest for it has been high too, Truckenmiller said.
“We had approximately 50 people enrolled this year and we expect similar numbers for the upcoming year,” he said. “We are utilizing our Individual Studies programs to respond to high-demand occupational areas.”
The college has faced declining enrollment over the last several years – seeing a 40% decrease between 2017 and 2021.
Fagan said a number of factors have led to declining enrollment, including the loss of many foreign students over the years and the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But, Truckenmiller said college officials anticipate enrollment this academic year will have a modest increase in both new and continuing students.
“Our budget is built around having enrollment similar to the current year, but we have some flexibility to accommodate growth,” he said.
Truckenmiller said the college is also considering partnerships with other local employers to provide programs to students.
“This strategy is targeting the adult population which will supplement enrollment by our traditional college-aged population,” he said.
He said the college is also disseminating more information to people on what they offer.
“We are also increasing our digital marketing efforts and developing a strategic enrollment management plan with the support of the State University,” he said. “We recently adopted a new strategic plan that provides a new framework from which the college and its stakeholders can work in partnership to adapt, connect, and leverage ideas, resources, and talent. All necessary in this challenging environment.”