Long Beach City College’s revenue is growing—but so is its spending.

The college is expecting $160 million in revenue for its unrestricted general fund in the 2022-23 fiscal year, about $11.8 million more than last year.

Overall, that will mean a $2.4 million surplus. While that’s good news for the college, it’s still almost 33% smaller than last year’s surplus—despite an 8% overall increase to the fund’s revenues. The difference comes down to more spending, both for one-time projects and growth in the school’s staffing.

LBCC’s Superintendent-President Mike Muñoz said that the robust state budget was important in allowing the college to increase its spending this year.

“This has been a historic state budget in terms of what we’ve been able to receive at the community college level,” Muñoz said. “We’ve seen increases in several categorical programs that have gone many years without increases.”

One of the biggest changes in this year’s budget, though, was due to a sudden set of retirements the school saw last year. A total of 64 employees—including nine administrators, 29 classified staff, five counselors and 21 faculty—retired on June 30, 2021.

This sudden exodus was jarring, but the government provided additional funding to help fill in the gaps. The state allocated an additional $2.1 million to LBCC this year through the 2021-22 California Budget Act in part to help the school with hiring.

With that money, LBCC is looking to backfill many of those positions. But the college has also changed some of the roles to reflect new needs and to comply with a requirement the state attached to its funding that full-time faculty comprise a larger share of employees.

Since it received the funding, LBCC has started the process to bring on 40 new full-time faculty members—consisting of 35 teachers, four full-time counselors, and a librarian—as well as two deans, an associate vice president of the Pacific Coast Campus and a director of innovation.

Additionally, three new management positions and six new classified positions have been created, including a science lab equipment technician for physical science. Two new HR analysts positions were also created, and other vacancies have been budgeted for.

In addition to the growing number of faculty and staff, the LBCC Board of Trustees also voted last year to increase pay for full-time faculty and the management team, and those higher wages are carrying over into the new fiscal year.

Overall, LBCC has budgeted almost $93 million for salaries, while about $49.4 million will go toward benefits.

Moving forward, LBCC also has its eye on managing what remains of its COVID relief funds.

The federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) is sunsetting in the 2022-23 fiscal year, which, alongside other COVID relief funds, provided the school with over $100 million over the past three years.

There’s an upcoming spending deadline on those funds, Muñoz said, and the school is looking to find productive ways to meet it. LBCC has identified four major points to focus on.

“We’ve been going through and looking at priorities,” Muñoz stated. “The big focus areas are supporting students, keeping employees and students safe, and leveraging those dollars to enhance some of our technological needs.”

One example is allocating over $2 million for a debt forgiveness program for students, something the college has seen success with in the past.

“We’re going to do another round for this past academic year to basically forgive the debt for our students,” Muñoz said.

Overall, according to its new budget, LBCC is in good shape. The school’s general reserve fund is set to finish about 5% higher than it did at the end of last year, which Muñoz says reflects the college’s fiscal health.

“All in all,” Muñoz said, “we are in a very good position.”

The final draft of the budget is expected to be presented to the Board of Trustees for approval in a September meeting.

Christian May-Suzuki is a reporter at the Long Beach Business Journal.