EWC board looks to prepare new fiscal budget

‘We have a lot of work to do for when we start to present a budget in July’

Rhett Breedlove
Posted 5/17/24

TORRINGTON – The Eastern Wyoming College (EWC) Board of Trustees gathered Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. for the mandatory monthly meeting of crucial agenda items.

Present at the meeting were …

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EWC board looks to prepare new fiscal budget

‘We have a lot of work to do for when we start to present a budget in July’


TORRINGTON – The Eastern Wyoming College (EWC) Board of Trustees gathered Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. for the mandatory monthly meeting of crucial agenda items.

Present at the meeting were EWC President Dr. Jeffry Hawes, along with board chairman Jackie Van Mark and vice chair Rick Vonburg.

Also in attendance were trustees Kurt Sittner, Randy Adams, Doug Mercer, Katherine Patrick, Robert Baumgardner and Jim Willox.

With the college school year in the books and students out for the summer, the primary focus of the evening was understandably on ensuring college faculty, staff, maintenance and facilities are taken care of with crucial needs by the start of the fall term.

Once again with the fiscal year coming to a close and a new one on the horizon, an enormous agenda item was the in-depth discussion to begin launching the process to prepare the budget for next year.

Interim vice president of Administrative services Patrick Korell and chief financial Officer Kwin Wilkes both spoke at length of the important task laying ahead before the board.

“Our initial budget for this year started a little bit late because EWC is trying to balance so many areas,” Korell began. “And those have to do with consultants and third parties. So we are really in a rough budget as of now. As for our initial request as far as needs or compliance, it looks like we were roughly three million in requested funding from our folks. Right now by our numbers, if were to adopt a budget today it would be roughly 3.5 million dollars. It is difficult to explain, but the bottom line is this; when we started this budget for the 24-25 year, we duplicated the same budget as before and made additions to saving in that budget. We have a review committee within our college to make recommendations. This year we implemented a new code book which sets forth all of our expenditures. One of the things happening is you get to the end of the year, you have a surplus and we think, ‘Let’s spend our money.’ With some of those we have designated items to see where we have money in the years needed, and it’s absolutely alright. You’ve heard the spend it or lose it mentality, but it doesn’t have a large place in this.”

As Wilkes momentously added finances are in current order, but adjustments and curveballs are always to be expected. As the chief financial officer explained, proper budget preparation needs to begin sooner rather than later at this particular point.

“I’ve noticed certain places need to be adjusted,” Wilkes continued. “As we start this fiscal year and budget an amount, in looking at that we have more money than we anticipated. More money than what we had in our budget. As Mr. Korell was saying, this is an amount carried into this budget and I have estimated a one percent salary increase at about $1,000. The areas of expense may be falling short, and this is the amount of money where we pay for our insurance coverage. We are low on the budget so we will address that, then we are making a permanent amount and this has already been brought up today. I want you to note we are taking in savings, so we are going up just a little bit. We are starting here, so in order to make a balance in the current presentation we have we have to use 2.1 million. So that’s what we are presenting today. We have a lot of work to do for when we start and present a budget in July. We need to bring that number down to make our carry over much more manageable.”

President Hawes further added to both Korell and Wilkes’ financial presentations, noting proper preparations and close attention on these matters can have a much bigger effect on not only facility management, but with grant funding. 

According to Dr. Hawes, this could mean continuation in increasing college enrollment.

“As we just brought up in grant development, these are significant things we can actually find with other resources to help. You heard Dr. Korell talk about grants in the 2-3 million dollar range. This is also something we can develop for high school students, and there’s a lot of potential here. These contractual services are big numbers. This again as Kwin pointed out is what we get when we roll that budget. What are potential new expenses? We are bringing in students but we won’t realize dollars for two to three years. It’s a futural investment. What I am saying is there’s a number equation based on tuition and state age where we have to think about these programs. Our leadership now have solved curriculum issues. It doesn’t matter what the program is and there is no magic button. If we are upside down on everything it will restrict our ability to invest and keep training our people. That’s the trade off.”

A significant and noteworthy portion of the meeting occurred with an enlightening presentation from archeology professor, Dr. Steven Howard.

Having just finished his first spring semester since joining the faculty at EWC, Dr. Howard spoke of immense opportunities while continuing to expand and improve the archeological programs at the college.

According to Dr. Howard proper engagement, motivation and above all community partnerships would not only help the college in educating and training students in the world of systematic archeology, but in long terms could actually be an economic boost to local museums and historic sites.

“We have developed an archeological and anthropology program, which is an experienced based program to tour in some aspects,” Dr. Howard explained. “We have introduced four main courses, which is the basis for an anthropology track to a social science degree. We can offer an associate’s degree for social and behavioral science with a track to anthropology, because we are partnering up. We have the opportunity to merge a museology program, and all of our courses are designed to transfer easily to the University of Wyoming. We are also working with museums to create training here in Torrington and are waiting on numbers. Eventually we are going to create a cultural resource management certificate.”

“We are trying to create an increase in trust in Wyoming’s cultural heritage,” Dr. Howard continued. “That should sustain, and we will pile it up at Sunrise in dealing with archeology and cultural sites. We have also developed K-12 community education programs, and these include school tours up at Sunrise. We have done talks at historical and archeological societies, which we actually started doing in October. Some of the things we are doing for the general public are workshops and demonstrations. We even have some pottery workshops scheduled. Everybody loves that, so that’s what we’ve been doing so far. So tell your friends to come out and see us. We are working to develop Sunrise into a wide sustainable destination, possibly a bed and breakfast. We are also looking at different ways to develop tours and hiking trails.”

Shortly before meeting adjournment, Dr. Hawes concluded with positive and hopeful messages of encouragement as the college plans to head into yet another year of higher education.

As the vivacious administrator eluded, as much as the college has had with success this year; it must continue with the ongoing efficacy of a very hardworking team.

“You will see those kind of things,” Dr. Hawes said. “We are very thankful. Something this organization does is gather resources and build relationships, and even in better ways this is a big milestone for our investments. Sharing with the Board I would make a strong recommendation to continue building those positive partnerships.”

Chairman Van Mark would adjourn the meeting at 7:41, in which the board of trustees will convene again on June 11 at EWC at 4 p.m.