The University of Wyoming is going into fiscal year 2017 with $19 million in reduced spending after the UW Board of Trustees approved the year’s budget, taking effect July 1.
UW President Laurie Nichols explained her budgeting plan for this year and outlined possibilities for FY 2018 and beyond.
The Legislature’s penny plan required UW to implement about $3 million in cuts for this year’s budget, which was already completed before the $35 million reduction, though the next two years mandated by Gov. Matt Mead was in place. However, because of other internal UW monetary needs, such as increased utility costs and the fiscal system, the total required is about $44.2 million, Nichols said.
Her plan reduces ongoing, repeated university expenditures by $19 million this year and about $10 million in FY 2018.
One-time funding and internal reallocations of about $6.5 million will also play a part in the cuts, coming from various reserves and voluntary reduction of summer hours to 32 instead of 40. These temporary monies will need to be replaced with permanent ongoing cuts in the FY 2018 budget.
Personnel expenses are the highest line item on the budget, and finding ways to cut these expenditures is necessary to achieve the required reductions.
Seventy vacant positions were eliminated in the FY 2017 budget, saving about $5.2 million. However, the eliminations were not done very strategically, and Nichols said they can now redistribute positions where they are most needed.
“The best way to (find money reductions) is to eliminate the positions that were vacant, where we could immediately realize savings and not impact people’s lives,” she said. “There’s a lot of that that’s not fair. But what we now can do is, as we get more vacancies, we can now take those vacancies and be more strategic with those.”
Eliminating almost all temporary academic appointments could save another $2.5 million. However, a standardized workload will be instated on many full-time faculty members to teach courses previously done by part-time faculty.
Early retirement incentives for long-time employees or people close to retirement will also be offered to anyone working at UW, Nichols explained. It is expected to bring $3 million to the university, although $5.6 million is being taken from the employer paid benefits line.
“We don’t even know who those people are yet,” she said. “We need to give people time to think about it. We took money out of the benefits pool and we cut the budget there, but we did it with the fact that, as these retirements come forward, we will pay back the pool. We know it’s not a permanent budget reduction — it’s a temporary placeholder until we can get these retirements.”
This year, money will be used to pay out the incentives, but any more early retirements through FY 2018 is planned to make up and exceed the initial costs, Nichols said.
By the numbers: University of Wyoming plans for budget reduction
$5.2 million: Eliminate 70 positions
$2.5 million: Standardize faculty workload and eliminate most temporary academic appointments
$1.5 million: Change requirements of part-time positions to eliminate full-time paid benefits
$100,000: No overtime, faculty overload or additional compensation
Estimated $3 million: Early retirement incentives to qualified employees