Budget Woes Persist
By Brittany DeVries
Awaiting Gov. Kaine’s final approval on April 23, the University of Mary Washington’s tentative 2008-10 budget, released March 13 and e-mailed 10 days later to faculty and staff, has stable recommendations despite the country’s unstable economy.
The operating portion of the budget, which covers all academic-based operations, includes a 2 percent salary increase for all employees and a continued $1,463,234 budget reduction in all general funds, to a base adequacy of $299,714. It incorporates an additional annual $92,624 in student aid, $631,660 for the Higher Education Equipment Trust Fund (HEETF) each year of the biennium, a $251,102 reduction for the Eminent Scholars program, and a statewide $1.6 million for interest earnings and rebates.
Acting President Richard Hurley said that over the past year UMW has had to freeze salary adjustments, equipment, and other operations to try and balance the budget while preparing for a possibly permanent financial reduction.
“Now that it is permanent, two major adjustments will be an increase in tuition rates and a reduction in school budgets,” Hurley said. “We are waiting for the actual budget so we can know by exactly how much to reduce our own budgets, and to see if the governor will give us any flexibility.”
The capital outlay, the second portion of the Virginia budget that covers all facilities, maintenance, and construction projects, proposes $606,000 for 2008-09 and $640,000 for 2009-10 for maintenance reserve projects. This is a capital provision for UMW within the $50 million being provided from state revenue.
“UMW is waiting for Richmond to resolve its differences about the capital [outlay],” Hurley said.
Recommendations of $4.25 million in capital projects renovations for Monroe Hall, Lee Hall, and convocation center equipment, $1 million for academic buildings renovations, and an additional $3.6 million for Monroe Hall restorations was also outlined in the state budget, funded by state proceeds.
The $800,000 for a new welding studio in Melchers Hall was recognized and approved by the state, but recognized as a project funded only by University funds.
“Another great example of this is the bell tower,” Hurley said. “As a public institution, we must have permission from the state to build, even if it is our own funds or from a private source.”
Hurley said that in the circumstance of having to make cuts in the budget, no specific department would be more impeded upon than any other department. However, the Campus Police and Admissions departments would not be altered.
“I have already informed the administration, we need to maintain our security levels, and keep that fully functioning,” he said.
UMW received $440,000 from the Tuition Moderation Incentive Fund, which allows only a 1 percent increase in tuition rates to current undergraduate residential students, permitting that the money allocated from the 1 percent increase is spent solely for student aid for these students.
According to Hurley, the tentative 4 percent tuition rate increase is the budget’s only discerning suggestion that students will notice, and most changes will be felt by University employees.
A governmental bond bill of $23 million is provided in the budget to cover the obligatory campus construction in Dahlgren. Upon completion, the site, presided over by the University, will provide other Virginia engineering schools a location to teach courses.
If necessary, demands for certain UMW courses or programs could also be held at the Dahlgren campus in the future.
Within the $50 million recommended statewide for projects like the funding for a campus in Dahlgren, Jepson Hall will receive funding for a $7.1 million addition.
Lowered from the last couple of years, the salary for all state employees will increase 2 percent, effective Nov. 25.
Hurley said that although some areas of the University’s operational and capital budgets have been financially reduced, overall the budget is a good one considering the current state of the economy.
“Our revenues as a state are down, in keeping with the rest of the country,” Hurley said.
The University budget also incorporated a six-year capital improvement plan for UMW. Though no funding is provided, the plan offers the blueprint stages of projects like the Dahlgren campus, the Technology Convergence Center, a chilled water plant, and a network upgrade.