Western’s budget cut by $5.6 million

Shawntaye Hopkins

Western administrators know how much to cut, but they aren’t exactly sure about how to start trimming.

The university will have to cut $5.6 million from its budget by June 30, the end of this fiscal year, to meet two cuts ordered by Gov. Ernie Fletcher.

President Gary Ransdell said the cut will not only mean a loss of programs and jobs, but also policy changes. There are currently no further details about how the cuts will be made, he said.

Ransdell said he has been meeting with Western vice presidents and deans to evaluate spending.

There should be more information available about possible policy changes in the next couple of weeks, he said.

“I’m not at all pleased with the volume of the cut, but those are the cards we’ve been dealt and we’ll deal with it,” he said.

Even as some uncertainty looms on the Hill, Ransdell has clearly defined some things he will and won’t do.

Future tuition increases will not be used to fund the budget cut, he said. An increase will instead be used to fund existing campus services and new programs.

The Board of Regents vowed not to increase tuition by more than 10 percent this upcoming fall after passing in November a $200 increase for this semester.

Tuition will most likely be increased to that 10 percent maximum, Ransdell said.

Job cuts will also not be made to increase faculty and staff salaries, he said.

But salary increases are a priority that Ransdell still plans to achieve, he said.

Majors and minors will also be protected, Ransdell said in a faculty-wide e-mail he sent on Tuesday.

Ransdell said he believes it’s possible to make cuts without sending faculty or students to different areas of study.

University presidents met with state Budget Director Brad Cowgill and staff from the Council on Post-Secondary Education on Friday to divide a $41 million cut among the institutions.

Cowgill could not be reached for comment.

The cut will take a one-time $2.3 million from Western, an amount slightly greater than the $2.1 million that was expected, Ransdell said.

Every state university except the University of Kentucky received a larger cut than expected, Ransdell said.

Formulas, as opposed to across the board cuts, were used to divide the reductions, he said.

“All things considered, I think it was an equitable distribution,” Ransdell said.

The cut to higher education was originally $45 million. Fletcher announced the $4 million reduction on Saturday.

An increase in Kentucky lottery proceeds made it possible for Fletcher to make the $4 million reduction, Cowgill said in a press release.

The money is being used to help generate $100 million to carry over into the 2004-05 fiscal year and ease predicted revenue shortfalls.

Fletcher also called for a $23 million cut last month, which meant a $3.2 million cut for Western.

The $3.2 million cut is final, but the $2.3 million cut can still be debated by the General Assembly, Ransdell said.

Sandy Woodley, vice president of finance for the CPE, said 65 percent of the institutions’ revenue is restricted money and 35 percent is unrestricted money.

Restricted money is self-generated by the university. Unrestricted money is mostly state funding.

The cuts were decided based on each universities share of 65 percent of the total cut, Woodley said. Then the CPE’s funding distribution method was used with other factors to create a second figure.

The funding distribution method was approved by CPE in November, Woodley said. But the model was discussed with university presidents for about six months before the approval.

Still, the cut could change again, she said.

The cuts are not official until the legislature approves the budget in April, she said. Fletcher will present his budget on Jan. 27.

Reach Shawntaye Hopkins at [email protected]