University of Idaho vice president of finance and administration Brian Foisy said before the Faculty Senate on Tuesday the university could be moving toward a “strategic hiring plan,” involving not replacing some vacant positions to deal with budget shortfalls. He said that means if a position is vacant, it will be scrutinized by the Provost’s Office and will determine if that position needs to be refilled or if other faculty or staff can fill that position. He predicts this method will result in approximately $4 million recovered over the next two fiscal years.
Foisy said enrollment and budget revenue has fallen short of what was projected for the past nine years. Foisy said the university must change its spending practices because of this. He added previous budget shortfalls made is so there wasn’t enough money left over to deal with this year’s shortfall.
This fiscal year, the university operated at a $1.1 million deficit in the general education fund, which is nearly $280 million. The general fund’s main revenue source is tuition and it pays for most of the institutions, faculty members and staff at the university.
If no changes are made, Foisy said he predicts a $5 million deficit in 2019 and 2020. That number is a result of low enrollment numbers and $2.9 million in one-time payments delegated to the University Budget and Finance Committee.
Foisy announced a plan he hopes will begin to alleviate the problem. Starting with the 2020 fiscal year, he said he hopes to put aside an undetermined amount of money for three funds.
He wants to designate a fund for the University Budget and Finance Committee. This budget would be used to address the one-time payments for renovations and replacements that the university has to deal with every year. Also, that money would not need to be taken from other institutions on campus, as it will be in a fund specifically designated for this purpose.
Additionally, he said he hopes to implement an “enrollment contingency” fund. Foisy said if enrollment continues to decrease, the university will have a backup fund that can be used to pay the difference any loss in enrollment might cause. Foisy said this will stop the university from operating “on the bleeding edge” where differences between one or two students enrolling can cause financial trouble.
The final fund Foisy wants to create is a fund for presidential initiatives. He said the president’s office has taken the hits for decreasing enrollment with limited funds available to the president.
“No president is going to want to come to this university because when they get here we will have to tell them ‘I hope you didn’t bring any dreams or aspirations’ because they won’t have any money to get things done,” Foisy said.
Gavin Green can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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