CNMI COLLEGE FACES $2 MILLION BUDGET CUT

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SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, July 3) – For fiscal year 2007, which will start on Oct. 1, Gov. Benigno R. Fitial is recommending an appropriation of $6.1 million for Northern Marianas College, which currently gets $8.04 million.

NMC’s budget request was $9.2 million, according to its chief financial and administrative officer Raaj Karupati.

The Office of the Management and Budget has informed the college of the governor’s proposed appropriation which is still to be reviewed and approved by the Legislature.

"We will try to operate within this figure ($6.1 million)," Karupati said.

NMC has two funding sources — the central government’s general appropriation fund and Public Law 10-66 or the Non-Resident Workers Act.

Karupati said they requested $7.5 million from the general fund and $1.6 million from P.L. 10-66.

"We will work with the board of regents and the (college) president to come up with a plan on how to live within that level ($6.1 million)," Karupati said.

He said although he "understands" the governor’s budget proposal, "we’re still hoping that the Legislature can identify a higher figure for NMC."

He added, "The fact of the matter is that everybody is having difficulties. We will live within the $6.1 million as requested by the governor but if there could be an increase, it will a big help for the college."

Of NMC’s $9.2 million proposed budget, almost 100 percent will go to its payroll.

NMC has 180 employees of whom 48 are federally funded.

NMC has 218 full-time employee positions but its $9.2 million budget request only covers 163 workers.

"When we (prepared) our budget proposal, we made sure that everything was in line with our mission and goals," Karupati said. "We met with department heads and deans to determine what were the major operational needs in their departments."

To cope with its financial shortfall, NMC increased by 43 percent the tuition of its resident students beginning in August.

NMC also said it implemented "major changes" in its organization.

July 3, 2006

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

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