Budget Reduction Plan 2001-02 & 2002-03
Livingston stated she would like to visit about a couple of things. She noted everyone should have gotten an e-mail from the Chancellor outlining the current year’s budget. Roggasch asked about the mention of the reduction of four faculty and one staff position. She asked if we know who that would be or if it is an unfilled position. Lakey stated he thought it was vacancies. He noted he was not aware of any layoffs this year. Ellingson noted that staff are concerned. She has had individuals asking her if she has heard anything. Lakey stated it is not an elimination of a person, but a vacancy that is not being refilled.
Livingston stated the reduction this year for UNK was $288,000, but the reduction next year will be $880,000 and those cuts will be permanent cuts in the budget. As to how that will be done – directors will be making their recommendations to the vice chancellors by January 7th and then they in turn will make their recommendations to the Chancellor by January 11th. The Chancellor’s recommendations go to President Smith by February 1st. However Livingston noted the process may vary by division. The question was asked if there are hopes the state’s economy will pick up. Livingston said this cut is set in stone. However there are other factors that could impact this. Livingston reminded members that there is still a 50 million dollar shortfall that the Legislature has to deal with in January. Another item on the horizon is a possibility of a 150 million dollar lawsuit against the State of Nebraska regarding low level nuclear waste. That happened during Nelson’s governorship. If it does develop, the state will have to come up with substantial funds for the lawsuit and there are no monies budgeted for that at this time. Danube asked if that lawsuit would be covered under some type of liability insurance umbrella. Lakey noted the state is self insured and he didn’t know if the state carried any liability insurance.
Livingston noted there have been some discussions within the University as to the merits of reducing everyone’s salary or at least not give the percentage increase that was planned for next year. That way we would not have to cut some positions. The University’s budget is 80-85% for personnel expenses. However that would be complicated at UNO and UNK since their faculty are unionized and have a contract for next year. These are some of the kinds of issues affecting the decision making. Livingston stated the Dr. Haack will be coming to Staff Senate in January and will talk further about the process. By that time, the recommendations will be in.
The other issue concerning the budget is a memo from Dr. Haack concerning the Policies and Procedures for management of unit budgets. Basically it says that UNK will not approve for payment in the current fiscal year any commitment of funds for non personal services that would cause the unit’s budget to be over spent for the year. Livingston noted that previously in the first year of a bienium, units were allowed to carry forward expenditures. That will not be allowed this year. If a unit runs out of money, the spending stops! Lakey stated expenditures will be tracked closer than they have in the past. Lakey stated that if a department is expending their funds too quickly, they will receive memos from Business and Finance. However some divisions may allow departments to use their vacancy savings to cover such overages.
Roggasch asked if there was any way Staff Senate could help staff feel good about UNK right now. She did note that the start of “Cause for Applause” recognition is perfect timing. She felt that this, plus things like “Let’s Have Lunch” are going to be extremely important next semester. Kucera stated that continuing information is also important. One of the reasons staff are concerned is because they don’t know what is happening or going to happen. She stated Staff Senate needs to encourage department heads to sit down and talk about issues with their employees. Lakey noted there are a lot of senarios about how to cut costs and when those ideas are heard, employees get excited. However nothing is decided yet. It will probably be close to March before those decisions are made.
Roggasch asked if we should sponsor a forum to get the real information out about budget cuts. Livingston suggested we could have Dr. Haack or the Chancellor available at a campus-wide forum to visit with people. Lakey stated it might be better to have all the vice chancellors present. Hines suggested that at the forum there should be a suggestion box. Employees might express their ideas concerning budget cuts, but don’t want to do it in front of others.
Senate Space Proposal
Livingston passed out a proposal concerning Faculty Senate Support. Included in the proposal, made by Faculty Senate President Wozniak, it suggests that similar support be extended to include Staff Senate. Livingston stated the proposal is to have office space for both Faculty and Staff Senate to share. There would be possibly storage for files, etc., and possibly room for sub-committees to meet. Livingston asked members to read the proposal from Wozniak and tell her what they think of the idea. She asked if members felt we need to have an office set aside on campus.
Ellingson stated it would be nice to have a central visible place where staff could go if they have concerns. She knows we tell employees to call us, but since our membership does change from time to time, it would be nice if they always knew where to go and voice a concern. It could even be to drop off a written concern or question or visit with whomever is there.
In the proposal, Wozniak states that since the Faculty Senate President does get one course per semester release time, it seems appropriate that the expectation for office hours becomes a formal one. He also suggests that similar compensation be made for the President of the Staff Senate.
Some discussion followed between members and the current president and the past president (Mumm) as to the merits of an office. They felt the only way it would be beneficial was if the president had release time and was free to utilize the office. Livingston noted it would be nice to have space for the sub-committees to meet. Having a place for the files would also be nice, since currently several individuals have boxes of files in their respective offices. She also felt it would provide some exposure. She was very appreciative of the fact that Faculty Senate has included Staff Senate in the proposal. Livingston stated she felt it would be helpful if it was staffed by a workstudy or someone else. Lakey felt that for this to work, it needs to be an existing office with secretarial support who could devote part of her/his time to work on Faculty or Staff Senate issues. That way if someone comes to the office, there would always be someone there. Lakey felt if it was just an office equipped with a typewriter or computer and only used a few hours a week, it might not be helpful. However if there was an extra room in an existing office with a secretary it could be very beneficial. Lakey noted it would be beneficial if there was someone in the office at all times – even if they were not doing Senate business. The question was asked as to who makes the decision concerning office space in Founders. Lakey stated he thought the vice chancellor. A discussion was held and suggestions were made of an office where this might be feasible.
Ellingson also noted if it reached the point where there is a secretary, there might also be a budget whereby you could make copies. It would be helpful when we need mentoring materials, award ceremony programs, Cause for Applause brochures, etc. to have some funding for those items. Currently with no budget, any special promotions/recognitions are often just paid for by the individuals on the committee out of their own pockets. Since Staff Senate is trying to make UNK a better place to work, it would be nice if there was some financial support.
Kucera stated with a new chancellor coming on board, we need to get on the bandwagon for a budget for Staff Senate. She felt we need a budget more than we need space. Then we could do some of the things that make us what we are without having to beg every time we need funds for a program/event. Kucera stated we need to establish some credibility quite quickly. Lakey noted as candidates come on campus Staff Senate needs to be visible and have a session with each candidate. Roggasch stated if we are not able to get a session just for Staff Senate, then we need to be sure all Staff Senate members attend a specific session and ask questions. Mumm asked if Staff Senate members would be more likely to come to a session that was specifically just for them. Members said yes. Mumm noted if it can be arranged, she suggested members come with prepared questions and everyone attend. Livingston stated attendance should be mandatory.
Mumm mentioned that if Staff Senate shared an office with Faculty Senate, it would give staff a place they could go to drop off concerns or suggestions. They could do so by just putting those concerns/suggestions in a box if they were more comfortable doing that. She noted it would also give Staff Senate more exposure. Livingston noted it would also give us more credibility with Faculty Senate if we shared an office. Mitchell noted her only concern was how staff would feel about Faculty Senate and Staff Senate setting up an office with all the budget cuts. Lakey noted that is why it would be best if it was shared with an existing office and secretary. Roggasch stated that since Bill Wozniak, president of Faculty Senate, is willing to make the proposal and include us and will do the campaigning for space, we should support the proposal. Then when a new chancellor comes on board, we can campaign for a budget.
Roggasch/Lange moved to support the concept of the Senate Space Proposal. A show of hands for the motion was unanimous.