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Riley proposal to impact Calhoun pay raises?
Interim chancellor says bill doesn't include enough funding for increases for college employees

By M.J. Ellington (334) 262-1104

MONTGOMERY — Calhoun Community College could take a $750,000 hit to pay for employee raises and benefits under Gov. Bob Riley's proposed two-year college system budget.

Also, Athens State University could need more than $607,000 to pay for employee benefits.

But Riley's spokesman said the governor and Finance Director Jim Main disagree with interim two-year college Chancellor Renee Culverhouse's claim that the proposal doesn't include enough money for the increases.

"It would be a major impact," said Calhoun Community College President Marilyn Beck. "But today, we are optimistic that our legislators will fund the cost-of-living raises, insurance and retirement benefits for our employees."

The college's bill for increased benefits for about 800 employees would be about $750,000, Beck said, leaving less money for programs that directly impact students.

The total amount needed to fund the benefits systemwide is $29.6 million.

While the total amount of Riley's two-year college budget is more than the system requested, Culverhouse said about $35 million of that is for work-force training commitments.

Culverhouse said she applauds the governor's industrial recruiting successes, but while industrial development is important to the state, she said that aspect of the governor's budget doesn't help the two-year system.

"We don't object to it being in our budget, but we do object to it being there at the expense of cost-of-living adjustments because we have to find other ways to fund them," Culverhouse said.

Riley's communications director, Jeff Emerson, said the governor's budget for the two-year system has $17 million in unallocated revenue that Riley and Main say could go to the employee increases. Also, since 2005 the two-year system's budget has increased by $110 million, Emerson said.

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