College District Fills $800,000 Budget Gap

With none of the feisty debate that accompanied earlier budget talks, trustees of the Ventura County Community College District did away with an $800,000 deficit by agreeing to cover the loss with an anticipated health insurance refund.

The action brings into balance the three-campus district's 1994-95 spending plan, which now stands at $58.8 million, nearly $4 million short of what the district spent a year ago.

"The only option we had was to use the health rebate," Trustee Pete E. Tafoya said Wednesday. "We had that money available and it created the minimum impact on the educational services we deliver."

Trustees passed a $59.6-million budget just days before it was due in Sacramento. But that plan included $800,000 the district hoped to receive under a state Assembly bill that was later vetoed.

The amendment approved late Tuesday calls for the district to lower by $832,000 its anticipated health costs this fiscal year.

Vice Chancellor Jeffrey Marsee had told the governing board that there was nothing left to cut from the 1994-95 budget, except classes and part-time teachers.

But he announced last month that he expected to receive up to $1.2 million from an insurance refund. That money, however, had been earmarked for other unfunded costs such as debt payments and faculty benefits.

There is no plan in place yet on how to pay those costs, but they can be delayed, Marsee said.

In private memos written by officials at the district and each campus last month, administrators suggested cuts of $400,000 in various accounts.

But those potential cuts became unnecessary after trustees voted to trim 1994-95 health costs.

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