Budget cuts hit TMCC

Though hit by a $1.3 million budget cut, Truckee Meadows Community College is making every effort to maintain the quality of education, says Anne-Louise Bennett, executive director of the college’s Foundation/Institutional Advancement Department.

The cut results from Gov. Kenny Guinn’s call for a 3 percent reduction in spending from all state agencies last August in the face of a $333 million—and rising—revenue shortfall.

“Our major concern is that [the budget cut] doesn’t affect the students,’ she said. The largest of the problems with the budget cut have been diverted by freezing nine teaching positions and by limiting other jobs to essential personnel.

There were cuts for the library; though this may cause some books to become outdated, it is not enough to cause much concern, Bennett said. A 2 percent reduction in school supplies from each department has been required by administration, but there have been no layoffs.

“The give back merely means that I won’t be able to get my new copy machine,’ Bennett said.

Bennett’s sanguine attitude is founded on the fact that the college’s major projects have not been shut down. The plans for the theater on Keystone Avenue are still a go; also, the Neil Road project will open as scheduled, allowing more classes for students. The school has not been prevented from expanding by the state’s effort to save money, Bennett said.

Still, her view is optimistic, some say. The students and faculty have their own opinions on the effects of budget cuts—hours have been cut, and some help for students is less available than in the past. One reference librarian at the TMCC library said that the cuts have prevented the library from purchasing some 200 books, with a much larger impact on students than Bennett copped to.

“They don’t have tutors from noon to 2 p.m. at all, and it wasn’t like that before,’ said student Brianna Valdez. She recently had trouble getting a tutor at the Learning Hub, a tutoring office on campus, since the hours the hub is open have been decreased.

These money woes have sparked debate on how to raise more funds for the school. While parking at the college is free, some parking meters may be installed to help to ease the sting.

TMCC’s cuts pale in comparison to those made at the University of Nevada, Reno, which totaled more than $5.8 million for the 2003-04 biennium.

There is hope, though, that the growing budget deficit will not continue to hurt the schools. Gov. Guinn went out of his way to be sure that there was not too great of an effect on the school systems with these cuts, said his press secretary, Greg Bortolin.

The schools have not suffered the brunt of the state’s budget problems, Bortolin said. Guinn has frozen 1,500 state jobs in order help reduce the $400 million shortfall.

It is difficult to predict whether there will be more cuts to TMCC’s budget. The University and Community College System’s $80 million budgets increase 9-10 percent annually, even when the state isn’t experiencing a financial hemorrhage.

“The governor is a supporter of education and does not want to affect the school system,’ Bortolin said.

Only time will tell what Guinn will be forced to do as this two-year budget period comes to an end and talks begin at the Legislature about how to boost revenues and trim costs.