The District has a well-defined budget process as detailed in the annual LRCCD Adopted Budget book. To ensure long-term fiscal stability, the District aligns appropriations with revenue sources by type/nature (continuing vs one-time, unrestricted vs restricted) and priority (essential vs non-essential/discretionary). Essential, continuing costs that support the basic District services, e.g., regular staffing costs and annual operating costs, are funded by the most reliable, continuing (on-going) revenue sources to the extent possible. The primary categorization used for District resources is whether the resource is continuing (on-going) or one-time in nature. The nature of the resource drives how it is appropriated. Within the Information Technology (IT) budget, there are four categories of appropriations:

 

1)         Regular personnel

2)         Contract or temporary personnel

3)         Operational

4)         Equipment and Projects

 

Regular personnel costs are the most difficult to fund because they must be supported by continuing revenue. The issue currently facing California community colleges, including Los Rios, is a lack of new continuing resources to support new regular positions while the operating environment has increasing need for new staff to meet both external and internal requirements. To address changes in the operating environment, vacated positions are evaluated to determine whether that resource should be directed (converted) to an area with a greater need for regular staff. However, position conversions are infrequent.

 

The third category, operational costs are also difficult to fund, again, due to the limited amount of continuing revenue. Similar to position conversions, savings realized through increased efficiencies can be re-directed to other operational needs. The District strives to minimize its operating costs – both within and outside of the IT Department. For example, a new VOIP telephone system has significantly reduced the District’s telecommunication costs. In addition, the District has implemented many energy efficiency projects to reduce energy utilization per square foot. Realized savings may then be available to fund other on-going operational expenses, including IT costs. However, as was the case with utility savings, those reductions have been offset by energy rate increases as well as the expansion of our facilities The result is a reduction in the need for additional resources rather than freeing up base budget to support other on-going costs. Funding IT operational with a continuing appropriation is considered each year and, when possible, base funding is increased. However, even with efforts to manage on-going operational costs, the District has not fully funded the base IT operational budget with on-going funds and one-time funds are appropriated each year to cover the shortfall.

One-time resources are also used to fund contract or temporary employees, equipment and projects. The second and fourth categories are funded with one-time resources. Fortunately, the District has sufficient one-time funds to allocate to IT from both unrestricted and restricted sources. The typical funding cycle for California community colleges is a period of limited resources followed by a boom in resources. Even in down cycles, the District has reliable sources of one-time funds that can be designated to support IT operational and some project and equipment needs. During the boom portion of the cycles, increases to on-going resources tend to be either lean or categorical. One-time funding is typically where large allocations are made that can be used in support of projects as well as infrastructure and equipment upgrades. When one-time revenues are abundant, the District may set-aside monies that can then support projects and equipment needs during less robust funding years. The budget model has been represented graphically by contrasting the large swings in the State’s budget against Los Rios’ pattern that softens the steepness of the swings through the use of set asides.

 

Within the four appropriation categories, the District and Colleges have defined areas of responsibilities related to budgeting, control and staffing. The District distributes new on-going operational, new classified and management positions, and one-time funds through its Program Development Fund (PDF) process. The college budget process is used to determine the allocation to support college IT responsibilities.

 

The following table recaps the type of expenditure matched to the funding source used to support it.

           

Description

Funding Source

Regular positions

On-going such as Growth or Base Augmentation

Contract or temporary personnel

One-time such as unrestricted lottery, mandate block grant

Operational

Base budget (on-going) augmented with one-time funds

Project or Equipment

One-time