NMC board supports $10.7M budget request

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THE Northern Marianas College Board of Regents on Thursday approved the NMC budget request of $10.7 million for fiscal year 2021.

The proposed budget will be transmitted to the governor’s Office of Management and Budget.

In FY 2020, NMC was supposed to get a $5.9 million budget. With the implementation of the all-encompassing government budget cuts amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, this amount has been reduced to $4.3 million.

In an interview, NMC Interim President Frankie Eliptico said the requested funds for FY 2021 will pay for the salaries of current employees and adjunct instructors, fill critical vacancies, utilities, and other institutional operating expenses.

The $10.7 million includes $8.2 million for NMC salaries and benefits, $1 million for ongoing Typhoon Yutu recovery expenses, $600,000 for adjunct instructors, $312,000 for utilities for Saipan, Rota, and Tinian campuses, public auditor fee of 1 percent or about $100,000, and other expenditures for college operations.

The college currently has about 1,200 students. Even with the destruction of about 80 percent of the campus by Super Typhoon Yutu, the college continues to post strong student enrollment, Eliptico said.

“NMC’s enrollment for last semester even increased compared to the same semester before Super Typhoon Yutu occurred,” he added.

The college offers programs in business, accounting, hospitality management, nursing, computer applications, criminal justice, education, natural resources management, and other subject areas. It also provides certificate programs in fire science and other areas.

On Feb. 14, the NMC Board of Regents approved the implementation of austerity measures.

Eliptico said the austerity measures, which will take effect in March, include a reduction of up to 16 working hours per pay period for locally funded employees. Exempted are 10-month faculty and employees earning at or below $25,000 annually.

“The college has also drastically reduced expenditures for supplies, equipment, and other operational related expenses — nonfederal hiring and travel have also been restricted,” Eliptico said.

Phase 2 of the austerity measures include renegotiating employment contracts, streamlining and possibly eliminating positions, among other things.

“We will also be launching other initiatives that raise revenue,” Eliptico stated.

“The college plays an important and central role in the CNMI’s workforce development efforts. We are asking the OMB and the Legislature to recognize that investing in our residents and building their capacity will have significant returns for our community,” he said.

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