Problems With State Budget Affect Western

The poor condition of the state’s budget have driven Gov. Mike Easley to implement a plan that calls for budget reductions and reallocations totaling $1 billion.

“The University system was asked to revert $32 million,” said Chuck Wooten, the vice chancellor for administration and finance. “For Western, our share totals $1,019,637.”

Wooten reports that certain measures are being taken at Western to complete the balance of the fiscal year without disruption of services.

“Chancellor Bardo has asked that we identify funds from lapsed salaries and fringe benefits, and other unspent operating funds that may be utilized to offset our reversion target,” said Wooten.

The reallocation of unspent resources occurs with consequences.

Western will not be able to address unexpected or pressing needs for equipment and other operating funds for the current fiscal year.

Funds for computers, education and scientific equipment, along with other one-time, non-recurring needs will be scarce during next fiscal year.

Current funding for improvements to the language lab in McKee ($125,000), the construction of a multimedia classroom in Hunter Library ($187,500), and other smaller projects has been delayed or frozen. The projects will be reconsidered in future years as funds become available.

Depending on the amount of projected lapsed salaries and benefits, Western may manage vacancies by delaying the hiring of faculty. Faculty searches that are currently underway or planned for this semester will continue without disruption.

Since July 1, the cost for fuel has increased by 29.8%. If Western’s consumption is consistent with last year, then the cost will be $462,740 greater for the current year.

Every individual on campus can assist in the conservation of energy by reducing office thermostat settings, turning off lights in offices that are not occupied, and limiting the use of hot water.

Each division at Western has been given a budget reversion target to reach between now and June 30, so that sufficient funds are available to meet existing university’s obligations.

Aside from instructional activities and student financial aid, vice chancellors are free to implement measures within their division to reach their target.