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Board adopts $2.4M budget

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The New College Institute (NCI) Board on Wednesday hoped for the best in adopting a nearly $2.4 million budget.

The best, in this case, would be state lawmakers providing NCI all of the funding it seeks. The General Assembly approved the state budget proposal last Thursday and it now is in the hands of Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Of NCI’s $2,385,978 budget adopted for the new fiscal year that will start July 1, about $2.25 million, or 94 percent, would come from the legislature.

The rest would come from various sources including funds NCI collects, such as fees students pay to take part in certain educational programs, and special revenues, such as an allocation from the state’s Higher Education Equipment Trust Fund, according to institute Executive Director William Wampler.

Board member Del. Charles Poindexter, R-Glade Hill, said the state faces a revenue shortfall of at least $1.55 billion.

Therefore, “we have to be prepared” to make budget cuts if the state reduces its funding for NCI, Poindexter said.

NCI Finance Director Christina Reed provided the board with several proposed budgets, each reflecting a different potential amount of state funding.

Board member Del. Danny Marshall, R-Danville, made the motion to approve the “budget scenario” that included the most state funding. Board member Jay Edelen, a Martinsville-area businessman, seconded the motion.

In doing so, they expressed confidence in Wampler, a former longtime state senator from southwestern Virginia, being able to persuade state officials to be generous to NCI.

“We don’t want to do anything to impede” his efforts, Edelen said.

With Wampler, “we have a rainmaker ... who seems to know how to shake the trees to get funding,” Marshall said.

Taking a sip from a bottle of water, Wampler slightly choked upon hearing that remark.

Bill Stanley, a Republican state senator from Glade Hill who also is on NCI’s board, said he would “prefer us to be more conservative” in budgeting because board members do not yet know how much money Richmond will provide.

But “I trust you” and other NCI staff members to spend wisely, Stanley said, so he voted for the adopted budget.

The adopted budget is up from $1,856,062 for the current fiscal year. It reflects operating costs for NCI’s new building uptown, the construction of which is to be finished in a few weeks, and five new full-time positions that officials say are critical to support the building and educational programs.

The positions are an advanced manufacturing equipment supervisor, public relations and marketing manager, events coordinator, compliance officer and security officer. So far, only the equipment supervisor has been hired.

If budget cuts must be made, Wampler said, an option could be to postpone filling the remaining positions. For instance, having to pay the new employees for 10 out of 12 months, instead of the entire fiscal year, might save up to 20 percent of the cost for those positions.

Another option might be to postpone some equipment purchases, he said.

However, cuts would be determined based on how much money is lost, officials said.

Following a closed session of nearly an hour, called to discuss a personnel matter, the board voted unanimously to extend its employment agreement with Wampler for six months, through July 2015.

All terms of the agreement will be the same, according to board members.

Wampler said whether he will get a raise will be up to the General Assembly as part of provisions of the Appropriations Act.

He currently earns about $170,000 annually, he said. He did not recall the exact figure.


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