On The Issues: Financial Management

The current board has cut back on spending over the last several years and amassed a sizable reserve fund. The specific reserve numbers provided by the college have fluctuated (which is a problem in and of itself), but a conservative estimate would be that the college has over 20 million dollars in reserve. The annual operating budget for College of the Mainland is in the low 30 million dollar range. The college does need to maintain a reserve fund to satisfy state law and to maintain a healthy bond rating. However a reserve fund in the 5 to 7.5 million dollar range would satisfy both of these concerns and ensure COM has adequate funds to address emergency situations.
The board should proceed conservatively with the budget given that state funding is likely to continue to decrease in the future.  However, hoarding money while enrollment remains stagnant and the facilities deteriorate is not fiscally responsible. Responsibly investing money in our facilities and our students ultimately leads to greater student success, increased enrollment, and higher revenue.
  • Around 50% of students enrolled at COM receive federal Pell Grants and this number is low as it compared to other institutions. I would direct the administration to investigate why more COM students are not receiving Pell Grants and use that information to correct the issue. If more of our students receive Pell Grants they are enable to enroll in additional classes and thus increase COM’s revenue.
  • College of the Mainland’s facilities have fallen into disrepair and little has been done to address the situation. The college is sitting on pile of money while foundations are cracking, pipes leak, and exterior facades deteriorate. Anyone that owns a home knows that it costs less money to address a problem when it begins rather than later on. A leaky pipe may cause water damage and foundation issues. The taxpayers will save more money in the long run if critical maintenance issues are addressed quickly and if potential issues are addressed before they become problems. The college recently completed a Master Plan which details these issues. It’s time to act! I will work with the board to direct the administration to identify a list of the most critical issues with our facilities and then act to quickly address them.
  • There has been talk of constructing a satellite campus in League City as part of a future bond. League City is experiencing tremendous growth and it makes sense for COM to take steps to expand into this area. That said, it is my view that such expansion should not occur until the main campus has been renovated and modernized. Once this is underway we should turn our attention to League City and work towards a ballot measure where League City residents vote to join COM’s taxing district. Then, as partners, we can move forward on the construction of a League City satellite campus.
  • Despite a focus on “fiscal responsibility”, the board continues to employ legal council that is far more expensive than legal council employed at area colleges. Until recently, the board paid over $1000 a month simply to have an attorney attend the monthly board meetings! Some trustees have questioned the need for such expensive legal council and I am in total agreement. I look forward to working with the other board members to seek out less expensive legal council and save the colleges thousands of dollars a year.

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