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Saint Mary’s reduces spending, cuts deficit

Kelly Meehan | Friday, September 16, 2005

After facing a budget deficit of $1.5 million at the beginning of the 2004-05 school year, Saint Mary’s has reduced expenditures to cut the deficit to less than $750,000.

Through a reduction in spending and the implementation of a four percent tuition increase between the 2004-05 and 2005-06 school years, the College has managed to decrease its deficit by more than 50 percent.

Laurie Stickelmaier, vice president of finance and administration, said two issues could be targeted as source of the budget deficit. The College’s troubles began when the actual enrollment in the class of 2008 fell 51 students short of their projected goal – which resulted in a $1 million loss. The second problem for the College was the general increase in the operating costs.

“The College’s financial foundation is very sound. This is a revenue expense problem, it is not a foundational problem,” Stickelmaier said.

By carefully monitoring expenses, it was estimated that the College could be back on track financially within two years.

Stickelmaier said new initiatives, positions, equipment purchases and smaller less critical repairs and renovations have been postponed until funding is more sufficient.

“The College has generous employee benefits and some of these have been decreased, [but] great care has been taken to maintain academic programs,” Stickelmaier said.

The College hopes to minimize the debt to $500,000 for the 2006 school year and, barring any costly surprises, is anticipating a balanced budget by the 2007 fiscal year.

This year’s freshman class of 375 students met the target enrollment goals, and the College hopes to enroll 400 students at the start of the 2006-2007 school year.

“It will take several years for the smaller classes to work their way through the enrollment cycle to be replaced by larger classes,” Stickelmaier said. “Saint Mary’s still anticipates tight budgets for the next two to three years.”