Wednesday public meeting will shed light on NMSU budget situation

Hadley Hall

Rachel Valerio / University Communications

Hadley Hall, NMSU’s administration building on the main campus in Las Cruces.

Employees and others anxious to learn what additional measures New Mexico State University may take to address its budget shortfall will get some answers on Wednesday.

Members of the NMSU Board of Regents are scheduled to hold a public meeting Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. in Yates Auditorium, located in Domenici Hall on the main campus in Las Cruces. While the agenda for the meeting hasn’t yet been released, university spokesman Justin Bannister confirmed that the meeting is “meant to let everybody know where we stand on the budget” and what additional cuts or other measures might be taken.

The agenda will be posted at least 72 hours before the meeting here.

Yates Auditorium can hold 240 people, Bannister said. For those who can’t attend in person, the meeting will be webcast, according to the meeting notice. You’ll be able to watch online here.

Officials aren’t currently answering questions about what additional cuts the university may take to balance its budget. The meeting agenda, when it’s released, may include details about what’s in store. The Regents will be able to give final approval on Wednesday to items that appear on the agenda.

The university has been developing a plan to address a budget deficit in the current fiscal year caused by decreased state funding and falling enrollment that was recently revised up from $10.7 million to $12.1 million. Bannister said the new estimate “provides us with some cushion should we need it over the course of the year” and could change depending on enrollment at NMSU for the Fall and Spring semesters.

The Regents have already approved cuts to some employee benefits, including reductions in annual and sick leave and health and other insurance. Chancellor Garrey Carruthers and many other high-ranking university employees have taken pay cuts that are expected to save $190,000 a year.

The Regents rejected a proposed tuition increase to help cover the shortfall in April. So, clearly, additional measures are needed. Eliminating the Employee Health Center is among the possibilities that has been discussed.

Before the current budget shortfall became clear, the university was already in the process of reorganizing to cut costs in response to decreased state funding, increased costs of education, declining enrollment, and less federal funding for research. A study released in September found that NMSU’s staff was poorly organized — with too many mid-level managers who were supervising too few employees.

So NMSU was already headed toward employee changes before the Legislature cut higher-education funding by an additional 2 percent earlier this year. NMSU has been in some form of a hiring moratorium and considered filling jobs on a case-by-case basis since March 2015. Some vacated jobs have already been fit into the university’s reorganization plan, Bannister confirmed.

Will the university speed up the reorganization process to help with the immediate budget shortfall? University officials currently aren’t answering that question or others about whether there could be layoffs, reclassifications that result in lower salaries, or other major changes for staff.

But those answers might come on Wednesday.

In the meantime, the university has been posting information about the budget online here.

This BBSNews article was syndicated from NMPolitics.net, and written by Heath Haussamen, NMPolitics.net. Read the original article here.