Mar 032009
 
Authors: Madeline Novey

In order to absorb the $13.1 million budget shortfall CSU experienced in 2009, university administrators and finance experts said Tuesday that department and college heads will have to determine possible cuts in 2010 budget discussions next week.

On March 11, representatives of all university departments will present requests for funding in 2010 and all viable spending cuts. After review by the university, a final copy of the budget will be approved in May and sent to the CSU Board of Governors in June for final approval.

“In the past those (budget discussions) have been about investment,” Interim Provost Rick Miranda told about 80 CSU faculty who attended the “Budget 101” session, designed to increase transparency about university finances and increase knowledge of the budget planning process. “This year the budget retreat is going to be of a slightly different flavor . the focus will be on how the units will absorb the contractions.”

Discussions of potential budget cuts to administration and all academic areas comes after Interim CSU President Tony Frank announced the shortfall in an e-mail to the community Friday.

The shortfall, he said, is comprised of the $6.7 million CSU owes to the Colorado General Fund after state revenues fell short of expectations last year and $6.35 million in university shortfalls due to state deficits and a decrease in both in and out-of-state enrollment.

Even after Frank made $1.5 million in cuts to administrative positions at the end of last year and applied $2.6 million from institutional reserves and $500,000 from stock transfers to the shortfall, the university still comes up short.

Miranda said tuition increases have been considered as a way to boost university revenues, which have fallen in recent years because of severe reductions in the amount of money CSU received from what Vice President for Finance Allison Dineen called “little bitty state appropriations.”

“That’s certainly one discussion that’s in play,” Miranda said, explaining that a tuition hike may be necessary to generate money to balance finances and maintain access to the institution.

While the university budget is reviewed annually, it is completely “refreshed” every three years Miranda said, explaining that new university goals and strategies are drafted as part of the University Strategic Plan.

Miranda said future goals and strategies could be more difficult to achieve in the light of the shortfall but that Strategic Plan Area Review Committees are currently working to develop these accordingly.

Miranda and Dineen agreed that “people have wisely taken their feet off the gas” spending wise but warned that CSU could see increases in mandatory costs — like utilities fees and benefits costs — and further demands from the state for money.

CSU faculty said while the process of budget cuts are stressful, they can see how they are necessary to maintain university operations.

Michael Dennis, CSU IT Infrastructure manager for Business and Financial Services, who was laid-off in the past due to budget cuts, said he could “see how cuts are viable.”

After Frank met with the Colorado Commission on Higher Education CEO Council to discuss the impact of the stimulus package on higher education last Wednesday, Miranda said CSU is playing it safe and “planning as if (the money) is not coming this year.”

Assistant News Editor Madeline Novey can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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