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WCC Trustee Voting Records Reveal One Major Failure

I have a feeling that no one spends time looking at WCC trustee voting records.

Except me.

I have long complained about the WCC Board of Trustees’ lack of authentic oversight. As it turns out, it’s easy to quantify how lacking their oversight actually is. I’ve been looking at WCC Trustee voting records in advance of the November 3, 2020 general election. Three of the current WCC trustees are seeking re-election. Their voting records raise real questions about whether voters should return all of them to the Board.

Here’s what I mean. Since 2015, the current WCC Board of Trustees has voted down one motion.

One. (Out of more than 630 votes.)

Trustee Dave DeVarti made the failed motion – to freeze tuition at $93 per credit hour for the 2015-16 fiscal year. The Board declined to freeze tuition, instead raising it by $1 per credit hour. So, how did that work out?

In FY2016, WCC took in $27,201,714 in tuition revenues from raising tuition that year. That represented a $232,080 increase over the $26,969,634 in tuition revenues WCC generated in FY2015. It’s important to note that WCC finished FY2016 with revenues in excess of expenses of $7.95M.

So, for an extra $232,000, the WCC Board of Trustees refused to freeze tuition in FY 2016. The one time in the past six years the Board said “No” was to make sure WCC generated $7.95M in extra revenue instead of $7.72M in extra revenue.

Do you really want Trustees who always approve everything?

The WCC Board has approved every single expenditure put in front of it, regardless of what it was for or how much it cost the taxpayers.

They have approved – without question – the hiring of dozens of costly executives and the firings of dozens of productive employees.

The WCC Board approved a $26M, no-bid contract for IT services that resulted in the loss of 31 full-time jobs and another dozen part-time jobs – over the strong objection of the community. Immediately afterward, they authorized the pay off buy out the outsourced employees without knowing (or asking) how much that would cost. The buyout bill was more than $2.6M dollars.

They have eliminated academic programs; in fact, they’re in the process of eliminating the Culinary program right now.

The WCC Board has authorized the sale of bonds against the General Fund to pay for the “Advanced Transportation Center” – a building with so little academic value that the State of Michigan will only pay for less than 25% of the cost. This leaves Washtenaw County taxpayers to foot the rest of the bill.

They have authorized the creation of an armed police force on campus at a time when the crime statistics simply didn’t support the need for an armed police force.

They have authorized so many expenditures that WCC – the community college with the third-highest local tax appropriation in the State – now has a structural deficit.

Some trustees have not cast a “No” vote in years. Literally. Two current Trustees have never voted “No” on anything at all. (That is not even statistically plausible.)

This is not governance, and it sure as Hell isn’t oversight. We elect Trustees to serve the taxpayers, not to rubber-stamp whatever shopping list the WCC Administration puts on the agenda.

WCC needs better Trustees.

Photo Credit: Zaheer Mohiuddin , via Flickr