Pulling Back the Curtain on Lakeland Community College Once Again

By Brian Massie, A Watchman on the Wall

The more that we read, and re-read the State of the Ohio Auditor’s Performance Audit on Lakeland Community Colleges, it is not hyperbole in saying that the Lake County taxpayers have been used and abused by an Administration and Board of Trustees for years!

The State offered 10 recommendations to, hopefully, get the College back on a sustainable financial path. Let’s review the recommendations dealing with the very generous pay and health insurance provided to the employees. Keep in mind as you read the following three recommendations that the college gets over $20 million per year in property taxes from Lake County taxpayers, and there is absolutely nothing that taxpayers can do because the three levies and either continuous or expire in 2031 or 2041. The Beverage administration and Board of Trustees saddled us with property taxes that are contributing to seniors being priced out of their homes.

Recommendation 5: Reduce Health Insurance Expenditures. The College offers multiple health insurance options that exceed similar institutions in their plan designs. Further, the health insurance plans are more expensive than the peer average while the employee contribution rate is well below the peer average. This results in the College spending more on insurance related expenses than the peer average. Adjusting the insurance offerings and contribution rates would result in significant cost savings to the College.”

Recommendation 6: Renegotiate Faculty Salary Schedule. At LKCC, faculty salaries are based on educational attainment and years of service. In this analysis, we compared only peers with salary schedules of similar structure. For each level of educational attainment, LKCC has a higher starting pay level compared to the peer average. Step increases are also higher than the peer average, which results in the highest ending salaries among peers. Additionally, the College offers employees longevity pay, which is not a common practice amongst peer community colleges. While we found LKCC’s academic year to be 5 days longer than the average, higher
compensation offered by LKCC is not offset by increased workdays for faculty. LKCC should work to renegotiate these salary schedules to be more in-line with what is offered by other community colleges to reduce expenditures and maintain fiscal stability.”

Recommendation 7: Renegotiate Faculty Summer Pay Rate. The College has a CBA for fulltime faculty which outlines a number of provisions related to employee requirements and compensation. While most provisions within the CBA align with those of peers, one provision we assessed diverged from peers in structure and related cost. The College’s summer pay provision is based on a percentage of salary rather than a fixed rate per workload unit or credit hour. This provision results in higher and less predictable summer pay compared to the peers. Renegotiating
this provision could result in cost savings and more budgeting foresight for the College.”

After reading these recommendations, we believe that it is appropriate for taxpayers to remember the cornerstone of the teaching at Lakeland:

Diversity, Inclusion and Equity that is their cornerstone! They went woke, and then went broke. Unfortunately, they are taking many Lake County citizens with them on the road to perdition.

We have been informed that the former President, Morris Beverage, retired with many months left on his contract. He took his very lucrative severance package with him, and after paying a nominal amount, he also left with his office furniture, computer and cell phone. We have never heard of any executive taking the furniture upon leaving.

Unfortunately, the College’s financial officer also left before the publication of the Auditor’s Performance Audit.

One final note, upon reading the Performance Audit, we observed on page 9 that the State Auditor made the following statement:

“In addition to state funding, the College also generates revenue through two property tax levies. LKCC is one of only six community colleges 7 in the state that have a property tax levy. A 10-year, 1.5 mill levy was renewed in 2021 and generates approximately $8.4 million annually. The College also has a continuing tax levy of 1.7 mills and was projected to generate approximately $9.5 million in FY 2023.”

The problem with the statement is that it is NOT CORRECT!

Here is a copy of page 9 from the performance audit:

Here is the abstract from the Lake County Auditor’s office that provides the details on the THREE property tax levies for the college:

Here is the Schedule A from the Lake County Auditor’s office. I clearly shows that Lakeland Community College has THREE property tax levies, and at a 94%collection Lakeland receives $20,043,151 per year from over-taxed Lake County taxpayers.

We will be following up with the State Auditor, and all of our elected County and State officials about this discrepancy. It probably will not change the assessment of the College’s rating (they cannot go much lower), but we expect accuracy from the State Auditor.

Stay tuned, we will let our readers know the responses we get from our elected officials. Based on our prior experience, the State officials will ignore the taxpayers; they only want to hear from us on election day.

Categories: Community Activism, Lake, Lakeland Community College, Uncategorized

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