MOREHEAD CITY — In the wake of the N.C. General Assembly not yet approving a 2019-20 state budget, Carteret Community College and the county school system are faced with uncertain financing as they continue to operate.

The Carteret Community College Board of Trustees adopted a baseline budget Tuesday to continue operations for fiscal 2019-20.

“The way we get financed without a state budget is based on last year’s dollar amounts of reoccurring funds,” CCC Finance Officer Steve Davis said during the trustees meeting in the McGee Building boardroom. “The State Board (of Community Colleges) approved these dollars. We will put a cap on spending for the year until a final budget gets worked out.”

Trustees approved a $20.99 million baseline budget that includes $12.4 million in state funds. It also includes $3.44 million in county funds and $5.1 million in institutional funds. Institutional funds include federal sources, fees, grants and more.

In a second vote, trustees approved a one-time performance based funding bonus of 2.2% of employees’ base pay salary across the board for all permanent full-time and part-time employees.

Following the meeting, Mr. Davis said once the state approves the budget, he will come back to the board with an amended budget for final approval.

He said for the near future, the delayed state budget shouldn’t affect the college, but if the state stalemate continues it could affect short-term workforce training, which in turn could eventually impact student enrollment.

The college is funded based on student enrollment from the previous fiscal year.

“If it keeps going on and we don’t get funds, it could potentially hurt us,” Mr. Davis said. “But even without a state budget, we will offer programs.”

The county school system is also subject to impacts from the lack of a state budget.

The County Board of Education, at the end of June, approved an interim budget for 2019-20 to continue operations.

State statute requires local school boards to adopt interim budgets if the General Assembly has not approved the state budget by July 1, the beginning of new fiscal years.

The school board’s budget is comprised of state, county and federal funds. Schools are funded by the state based on student enrollment, or average daily membership.

Finance Officer Kathy Carswell said in June that once the state budget is finalized, she will come back with a final budget for the board to approve for the 2019-20 school year.

In an email Thursday, Superintendent Mat Bottoms said lack of a state budget makes it difficult for the school system to plan for supplies and salaries.

“It would be ideal to have funding known and in place at the beginning of each school year. This would allow the school allocations to be made, the schools to prioritize their needs and for purchases to arrive before the students return from summer break. We are thankful our County Commissioners provide the local funds that allow us to get some of these materials ordered and in place when we start the school year.  At this time, we are operating with those local allocations only.”

Mr. Bottoms added that without a state budget, school employees are left in limbo regarding their salaries.

“In addition to the supplies, books, and other instructional materials, it would also be ideal if our employees could know their salaries for the year so they could plan for their personal lives. Our teachers, especially our inexperienced teachers, live on very tight budgets and knowing their salaries allows them to better stretch their budgets.”

County commissioners June 17 approved the school system’s local portion of the 2019-20 budget, with $23 million in operations funds and $1.87 million for regular capital. In addition, there was $580,000 for the operations of Tiller School, a charter school in Beaufort, $43,675 for payments on Croatan High School modular units and $779,000 for technology.

As for the governor-vetoed state budget, The Associated Press reports the House voted Wednesday for legislation that funds the community college system and transportation projects. That legislation now heads to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk to sign.

The bills are the latest stand-alone measures Republicans created by copying portions of the larger budget Gov. Cooper vetoed in June. While the Democratic governor and GOP lawmakers have been in a stalemate over the larger budget, Gov. Cooper has signed all but one of the “mini-budgets” to date.

After the Senate met Thursday, legislators didn’t’ have plans for more votes until at least Monday, Oct. 21.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.

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