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College of Eastern Utah state budget woes continue to grow

Sun Advocate publisher

Budget problems for the College of Eastern Utah could become worse than first reported in December.

According to an email sent out by interim CEU president Mike King on Tuesday, the state may be looking at more to cut than was projected for next fiscal year.

"We have learned that the legislature will start their session with a baseline budget for fiscal year 2010 that is 85 percent of this year's budget," stated King in the email. "Including the 4 percent already reduced from next year's budget (based on cuts from this years budget), we will likely receive a 19 percent cut for next year. Our total reduction for next year could exceed $3.5 million."

Because of that and the fact the budget crisis in state revenues seems to continue sliding down the scale, King said the college's budget committee will be taking some strong stands to plan for those reductions now.

"Given the severity of the projected cuts, our budget committee recommended that we make plans to reduce next year's budget by 20 percent," he wrote. "This proposal was presented to the college senate and our board of trustees in December. Our budget planning will be discussed further at our next board of trustees meeting on Jan. 13."

For this fiscal year the state is already requiring all state agencies to cut their budgets. Even those cuts may be higher than was expected initially.

"We have received word that the legislature will start their session later this month and will in all probability reduce higher education budgets this year by an additional 7.5 percent (approximately $1.3 million on top of the $763,000 already cut)," King stated in his email. "Because this year's cut is more than the 5 percent proposed initially, to make sure we can maintain a positive fund balance at the end of this fiscal year, it is necessary for us to announce a spending freeze on all operating expenses. This means for the remainder of this academic year, any new spending from current expense, hourly wages, travel, and capital equipment is suspended except for emergency spending to ensure continuance of critical programs."

Last fall, state officials said they would be asking colleges to make a 4 percent reduction in budgets for the present fiscal year as well as the next. But in late November, the state analysts suggested that the schools would have to look at about $915,000 or an additional cut of approximately 5 percent. The cuts will come out of CEU's current budget of slightly more than $19 million.

Then later it was announced that next year, the state may require an additional 15 percent, which would mean another $2.75 million on top of the original $763,000.

Now, with the percentage seemingly being projected for 19 percent, the college will be looking at one fifth of its budget being cut.

Early last month, King met with about 40 faculty members to discuss a letter that the college had sent out to all non-tenured personnel concerning the non-renewal of contracts.

In a later interview, King indicated that the non-renewal of contract letters delivered to some faculty members was a matter of policy. He said CEU had to tell faculty members about the uncertain situation before mid-December to stay within the policy.

King told the Sun Advocate that the letters did not mean the people receiving the notices would be losing their jobs. But the budget cuts could mean that some of the employees could.

At the time, King explained that the contact concerning employment policy only applied to faculty members.

When the time came for the budget cuts and possible reduction in staff, he said all employment areas on campus would be considered.

The groups in question included faculty, professional staff, classified staff and the administration.

Tuesday's email backed up King's earlier statement.

"Though some faculty positions will be cut, personnel reductions will have to occur in all campus areas," noted the correspondence. We are working now to identify reductions that can be made that won't prevent the college from fulfilling its mission and meeting the needs of our students. We recognize that these cuts will result in a reduction in what we are able to provide, but also look at this as an opportunity to focus our efforts in areas where we can meet recognized needs and be the most productive," concluded the correspondence.

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