Florida Keys Community College became the latest local institution to bow to the inevitable and provide its employees some relief from the shrinking wages and increasing inflation that have burdened working people since the onset of the Great Recession in 2008.
The college's five-member board of trustees on Tuesday unanimously approved a "one-time salary increase" equivalent to 4 percent of a full-time employee's gross salary.
"It's been five years since our employees had a raise," FKCC President Jonathan Gueverra said before the approval. "With inflation, that's hard to maintain."
The one-time-only measure will only cost the college about $142,000, and is long overdue, Gueverra said, while board member Anne O'Bannon pointed out that 2008 was the last time such a one-time payment was attempted.
Although the pay increases are "funded by current year savings," the college will still finish fiscal year 2014 with a comfortable 10.13 percent fund balance in its reserves, which is well above the level required by state auditors and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, said Jean Mauk, FKCC's vice president of business and administrative services.
"We've lowered our overhead costs substantially," Mauk said.
Also at Tuesday's meeting, the board approved a change in its lease with the Key West Collegiate Academy charter high school, which currently rents classroom space on the FKCC campus for $5,500. In anticipation of increasing enrollment, the charter academy will move across campus in August to the former Public Safety Building.
The move will bring KWCA's rent up to $8,500, representing additional income for the college, which is still struggling to come up with a long-term financing plan for its Lagoon Landing student dormitory.
Asked by board members if the lease was at least a break-even proposition, Gueverra replied that the college would be making a profit from the arrangement.
"We do this to make money," Gueverra said. He added, however, that money is not the only consideration in handing the keys to the building over to KWCA.
"We want them to feel like part of the campus," Gueverra said.
The board also discussed the two openings on its board that have yet to be filled.
Earlier this year the board agreed to expand its ranks by two, but have yet to receive any applicants they could recommend to the governor of Florida.
"Getting people to apply has not always been easy for us," Chairman Robert Stoky said.