After months of poring over budget books, the University of Wyoming identified its budget reduction goal of $19.3 million.

“The good news is, I think we can put the (fiscal year 2017) budget to rest,” UW President Laurie Nichols said.

Most of the funding came from vacant positions either frozen or eliminated. As of Aug. 19, about 150 faculty and staff positions in the section I budget were empty. All of the state’s funding goes into the section I part of the budget. Section II is funded through outside sources, so there is more flexibility with rehiring. Nichols eliminated 97 positions and is holding most of the remaining vacancies.

“These numbers shift every day,” she said.

“These numbers are never set in stone. These are management decisions I’m making all the time.”

While the $19.3 million has been found, it might not all be available this fiscal year.

“We have really fully met our $19 million budget cut with one exception, and that one exception is the retirement incentive,” Nichols said. “The reason we’re not going to get that (in FY 2017) because we had to do the incentive payout, and that ate up our dollars. But we will get $4 million in FY 2018, so we actually hit our goal and went beyond it.”

Administration originally expected to save $3 million from retirement and separation incentives.

Nichols presented three options to the University of Wyoming Board of Trustees.

“One would be to just not worry about it, kick it down the road and deal with it in FY 2018,” she said. “The second is to look for cash balances where we can pull one-time funding into this.”

The third would be withholding some more vacancies until the necessary money is found.

“If we need to sit on those vacancies for a little while and realize savings from them and then open them up a little later, we can do that.”

While there are many positions being held vacant, the vice presidents have begun identifying important positions that need to be filled, and Nichols said she has begun allocating important positions.

“This retirement incentive was very heavy on the staff side, and there are a few of those positions that desperately need to be filled,” she said. “This would be a time I could look for vacancies and say, ‘Go for your highest need.’ This is where we now start realizing our strategic priorities in terms of what we’re going to refill and what we’re never going to refill because it’s not a strategic priority.

Keeping options open for distributing open positions in the future is very important, Trustee Mike Massie said.

“It’s really critical to have that flexibility to be able to deal with specific situations,” he said.

While the FY 2017 goal has been met, the Financial Crisis Advisory Committee is still searching for $15 million in reductions for the FY 2018 budget. This cut will be in addition to the $19.3 million.

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