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ASCC walked into a deficit for new fiscal year

The American Samoa Community College has moved to “implement cost containment measures” with the only institution of higher education in the territory faced with a “deficit” at the start of its new fiscal year 2017, which began on Oct. 1, 2016, says ASCC Acting President Rosevonne Makaiwi-Pato during the governor’s cabinet meeting last Thursday.

Makaiwi-Pato, who is ASCC vice president of Academic and Student Affairs, didn’t elaborate on the total deficit or provide an explanation for the reasons behind the deficit. According to FY 2017 budget documents, ASCC’s budget for the new fiscal year stands at $11.66 million with 295 employees while in FY 2016 the approved budget was $12.3 million with 308 employees.

“Our college is on cost containment,” Makaiwi-Pato told the cabinet meeting, adding that a memo have been issued “to all our employees that they will receive no increments” and there is no travel allowed if funded with local revenues.

Additionally, “we have put a freeze on hiring, except for critical positions such as faculty — that will not be stopped and for other critical positions which are required for operations,” she explained. “Other than that, all locally funded cost containment measures have been taken and we will continue until we are able to make up for the deficit that we walked into in this new fiscal year.”

Furthermore, “we have sat down as a leadership team, to look at, not just the cost containment measures, but what are the solutions that we will be moving forward in this new fiscal year,” she points out. “We have a very aggressive marketing committee that is starting to go out to the schools as well as to other areas to try and bring in more students and ways of bringing in more revenue.”

ASCC is also revisiting with the Board of Higher Education, the governing body of the college, for the “Research Foundation to get that going for the beginning of the new year,” she said.

The ASCC Research Foundation is established under local statute as a non-profit, tax exempted public corporation. Among the Foundation’s functions, according to the statute, is to receive and administer grant contracts or agreements with federal, territorial and international governmental agencies; and receive and administer funds from grants, contracts, endowments, individuals, gifts or requests of property and to prudently invest such in a manner that will promote maximum financial growth.

At the cabinet meeting, Makaiwi-Pato revealed that ASCC has three legislative proposals that will be sent to the Governor’s Office to look at ways of bringing in money for the college through legislation. She didn’t hint on any of the proposed measures.

She also says that ASCC is using one of its staff members — “who’s an excellent grant writer” — researching now other grant opportunities. “There’s a lot of grants out there, that we haven’t accessed, so that’s another area we’re looking at bringing in more revenues to the college,” she said.

As for the ASCC winter graduation, it will be held Friday, Dec. 16 at 10a.m. on the ASCC campus.