This archived article was written by: Kris Kohler
The state of Utah has found itself in the position of lagging revenue collection, stemming from the recent downward spiral in the economy, inducing a mixture of fast thinking and hard-to-swallow cutbacks for all state agencies including the College of Eastern Utah.
According to Mike King, CEU’s interim president, the state of Utah, along with the rest of the country, has found itself in unfavorable economic circumstances. Revenue collections for Utah continue to lag behind revenue projections. CEU, and the rest of the eight public colleges and universities in the Utah System of Higher Education plus other state agencies have already received budget cuts this year and next. Because revenue collections continue to lag, there will be additional budget reductions for this fiscal year and for next year as well.
CEU was allocated a budget of $19,080,000 for the operation of the museum, the Price and San Juan campuses, which, according to King, is the figure that is needed to continue operations at full capacity.
“We don’t know the exact amounts of the cuts yet, but we recently received recommendations from the Legislative Fiscal Analyst’s (LFA) office and will know the governor’s plan later this week,” King said.
“We already received a $763,000 cut to this year’s budget as well as an ongoing cut of $763,000 from our base budget for the future. The LFA plan calls for an additional five percent ($915,000) reduction this year, which means our budget would be reduced by a total of $1.67 million for the current year. The LFA is recommending an additional 10 percent reduction to next year’s budget, which would reduce our budget by over $1.8 million.”
Regardless of the level of the cuts, this challenge will be the greatest CEU has faced as an institution in recent memory, he said.
“Because of the magnitude of these cuts, we are forced to examine every college budget to determine how we can make the reductions while maintaining our educational programs central to the mission of the college,” King said. The administration is conferring with campus departments, the budget committee, college senate, and the board of trustees to work through this process.
According to King, the collaboration anticipates having a preliminary budget reduction plan formulated within the next two weeks.
There have been a few questions raised about whether or not the college will be offering a special retirement incentive as part of this process. According to King, the current special retirement process will remain intact for those eligible and will add a severance incentive for others who may not qualify for special retirement. The severance incentive will be tailored to the individual and incentives may include an agreement to extend health insurance coverage, a one-time payment or other arrangement that is mutually beneficial to the college and the individual.
According to CEU’s president, any special retirement or severance incentive must allow for savings in the college’s ongoing, state-funded budget. In accordance with accounting standards, each request will be considered on a case-by-case basis and approval is not guaranteed.
“Because of the need to expedite these agreements, I would request interested parties contact us within the next week, or no later than the close of business Monday, Dec. 8, 2009,” King concluded.
With the current economic conditions, it is sure that all agencies of the state are in trouble. Everything must be re-evaluated and creative thinking by all administrations and teamwork will be a necessity in the state’s economic recovery.