Board seeks more funds after grant spent

CCSTEP grant and project follow up

Trustee David DeVarti talked about the plans to expand to the budget with funds available from the state.

Trustee David DeVarti talked about the plans to expand to the budget with funds available from the state.

By Brittany Dekorte
Staff Writer

The long process of updating and replacing equipment with money from the Community College Skilled Trades Equipment Program, or CCSTEP, grant is coming to a close.

In September, Gov. Rick Snyder visited the college’s Occupational Education building to unveil its new equipment that was bought and installed with the grant funds.

William Johnson, the vice president and chief financial officer of administration and finance, spoke at the Nov. 15 Board of Trustees meeting during the discussion and final vote on the use of the CCSTEP money.

“We’re tying in what we do with what employers need their employees to know, and those businesses are excited about this. We’re closing the skill gap,” Johnson said.

Dr. Richard.J.Landau responds to William Johnson's plan.

Dr. Richard.J.Landau responds to William Johnson’s plan.

According to a report presented by Johnson, CCSTEP gave the college almost $4.4 million to support the Skilled Trades Equipment Capital Project. The Skilled Trades project was set at a budget of a little over $6.4 million originally, which the college funding the gap. Back in February, the Board of Trustees pledged an unforeseen additional $1.1 million to the project, bringing the budget up to $7.5 million.

The report continued with the highlights of the project thus far: All but two pieces of the equipment bought, equipment such as welders, lasers to cut steel, and 3D printers, have been delivered to the college, and three pieces are in the final stages of installation. The last of the equipment is set to be installed by the end of December 2016.

Johnson’s presentation wasn’t only about updating the current progress, it was about expanding the program. The state of Michigan has increased the availability of money through the CCSTEP grant, due to some schools returning money that was not spent.

“We’ve identified a number of projects that would be next in line and also in line for the eventual replacement of equipment, such as three automobiles and additional welders that would be up for replacement in the next two to five years,” Johnson said.

Trustee Dave DeVarti summed the expansion up, “So you’re basically saying, you’re asking us to ask for money that we won’t have to spend, but someone might give to us if we ask for it. That’s generally a non-controversy,” DeVarti said, causing laughter in the crowd.

Trustee Ruth Hatcher was concerned about adding to the budget, and pushed for extra language to be added to the budget motion. “Having been, for lack of a better term, burned by the additional match that we had to do for $1.1 million, I would like to add sentence ‘WCC will not incur additional funding requirements in support of this incremental state grant funding, just to be sure I’m not going to be asked for another million dollars,” Hatcher said during the discussions.

The Board of Trustees passed the amendment, unanimously. This increases the budget of the project by $390,000 which should save money that would have otherwise come out of the school’s general fund.

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