Budget council makes recommendations

Shawntaye Hopkins

Western administrators were faced with cutting the university budget by $5.6 million in February, but President Gary Ransdell still intended to make faculty and staff salaries at Western more comparable to other universities.

That just might happen.

Western’s budget council proposed a university budget to Ransdell on Tuesday that if approved would increase faculty and staff salaries, the university’s utility budget and student financial aid.

The total budget appropriates $212 million.

Ransdell said he will present the proposal to the Board of Regents in a special meeting in June.

Full-time faculty and staff who have satisfactory evaluations would get a 3 percent salary increase, Chief Financial Officer Ann Mead said.

Western would increase the contribution to its health insurance plan by $9 if the proposal passes. The contribution change would go into effect on Jan. 1.

The council proposed an increase of Western’s utility budget because of projected cost increases, Mead said.

Ransdell said several buildings, including the science building, will be finished soon.

The council proposed to increase financial aid money, because they wanted to ensure that more scholarship money became available as tuition increased, Mead said.

Several faculty positions were also funded in the budget, Mead said.

Campus police might get some extra help recruiting and retaining officers.

The council proposed substantial market salary adjustments to recruit and retain officers, Mead said.

“The main thing that I insisted upon was at least a 3 percent faculty and staff salary increase,” Ransdell said. “And they were able to achieve that, although I would have like to have seen more.”

Ransdell said he is also pleased that the council addressed employee benefits.

“We were able to address most of our priorities,” Ransdell said. “I’m really quite pleased with the budget council’s work.”

He said he would not make any changes to the proposal.

The budget would go into effect on July 1.

Mead said there were some concerns about not having enough funding for next fiscal year’s budget, but she is pleased with the recommendation.

“I think it addresses a diverse list of funding needs across the campus and is a reasonable budget, especially when we will not have increases in state funding next year,” she said.

Mead said the budget proposal was created under several assumptions – tuition would be increased 10 percent,the General Assembly would provide no additional funding and Western’s enrollment would remain the same as it was in the 2002-03 academic year.

The Board of Regents will vote on the 10 percent tuition proposal at its April 30 meeting.

Nick Todd, president-elect of the Student Government Association and a council member, said it was not easy for the council to create the recommendation without increased state funding.

“I think the budget council did an excellent job,” he said.

Provost Barbara Burch, who is also on the budget council, agreed.

“Given the many needs, I truthfully think what came forward was done as good as it could have been,” she said.

Burch said she was especially pleased with the faculty and staff increases and the funding of some faculty positions.

Reach Shawntaye Hopkins at [email protected]