While officials do not know what departments or programs may be affected by the newest round of budget decreases at College of Eastern Utah, it is certain that the cuts the state is requiring of all agencies and higher education will change things on the campus.
In an email to staff and faculty on Monday afternoon, interim president Mike King related what the administration knows about the states actions and suggested that the cuts may be one of the biggest challenges the college has faced.
"The LFA (legislative fiscal analyst) is recommending an additional 10 percent reduction (over a $763,000 cut and another $915,000 that are being cut from the budget this year) to next year's budget which would reduce our budget by over $1,800,000," stated King in the email. "Regardless of the level of cuts, this challenge will be as great as any we have faced as an institution in recent memory."
After the first round of cuts earlier in the year, few people saw any type of silver lining for next years budget as the economy in the state and nation slowed down and went into what was, on Monday, officially called a recession by experts in the federal government.
In years past, when the economy was slow, cuts were expected. But after the Utah Department of Transportation put off new road projects for next year due to the report from the LFA, all state agencies braced for some dark news.
"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," stated King's email. "The administration is conferring with campus departments, the budget committee, college and board of trustees to work through this process. We anticipate having a preliminary budget reduction plan formulated within the next two weeks."
By far the biggest cost the college has is the labor that it employs to run the campus and educate students. With this cut many on campus are nervous about what might happen to staffing and programs.
With the cuts in the wings for a few weeks, but unconfirmed until now, there have been some questions about whether the college would be offering special incentive programs to people who might want to retire.
"Our current special retirement process will remain intact for those eligible and we will add a severance incentive for others who may not qualify for special retirement," stated the presidents release. "The severance incentive will be tailored to the individual."
King went on to explain that process may include agreements to extend health insurance, a one-time payment or other arrangements that are mutually beneficial to the college and the individual.
However, the email also said that any such arrangements would have to fit in with the funding the college has and will have in the future.
"In accordance with accounting standards, each request will be considered on a case-by-case basis and approval is not guaranteed," stated the college's interim president.
The Utah Legislature determines how much money various departments in the state will receive. The state's governing body will not convene until Jan. 26, 2009.
There were some hints on Monday that legislative leaders are talking with the governor about a special session to deal with budget shortfalls for the remainder of 2008 and for next year in a special session.