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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Furlough plan will affect 6K at UA

In reaction to the Arizona Board of Regents’ directive to cut 2.75 percent, or $5 million, from the UA’s general fund salary budget, a furlough plan was announced earlier this month.

Next year’s furloughs — mandatory time off without pay — will affect about 6,140 UA workers, specifically those who make more than $40,000 a year. The more than 3,500 workers whose salaries fall under $40,000 would not be subjected to furlough days.

The plan is one of many ways the UA is trying to cope with a dwindling budget, cut by more than $100 million over the last couple of years.

Even those who receive funding from grants will face mandatory furloughs in order to maintain consistency.

President Robert Shelton, in an official memorandum sent out April 14, stressed the plan was temporary. The ABOR budget directive is only for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins in July.

“”No one likes the idea of furloughs,”” Shelton said in the memorandum. “”Through sound fiscal policies, the University has been able to avoid them the past two years, and it would certainly be our preference to avoid them for the coming fiscal year. But given the ABOR directive, we are left with no other option.””

In order to prevent canceling classes or disrupting university operations, furlough days would be applied during non-peak operational times, over breaks and vacations. Robert Mitchell, presiding officer of the faculty senate and interim associate dean of libraries, is not thrilled with the plan, but sees it as a better alternative to layoffs.

“”Nobody’s happy about this, but people understand there is a budget deficit that must be made up,”” Mitchell said. “”I am confident that faculty support the notion of a graduated furlough process whereby the people that make less money are either spared furloughs entirely or take off less time and that the people that make the most money should have to make the most time without pay.””

Mitchell also said he thought this was an improvement over the last plan drafted, but never enacted. The previous plan required top university employees to take more furlough days regardless of their salary.

Shelton also made mention of possible plans for additional cuts.

Without money from Proposition 100, the one-cent temporary tax increase that would provide funds to education, the UA would need to make an additional $42 million cut. Shelton noted that this would “”necessitate a substantial increase to the furloughs, along with a significant reduction in jobs and major cuts in other areas, including student financial aid.””

Financial Aid Director John Nametz said he had “”no idea”” what Shelton was referencing about financial aid.

If Proposition 100 does not pass and Arizona loses federal matching funds of $42 million, the amount of total government funding for the UA would be half of what it was only two years ago. It would be one of the steepest declines in funding in the country and in UA history.

Additional financial aid cuts are likely if Proposition 100 doesn’t pass, so a contingency plan is being developed and will be reviewed by the Board later this week, according to Jennifer Fitzenberger, director of external communications.

Specific dollar figures are not yet available.

“”If the object of the game is to save money, you ought to go where the money is,”” Mitchell said in support of the new plan.

Furlough days will begin in July 1, 2010, and can be taken through June 30, 2011.

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