University sees $2.5 million deficit in 2008-09

Ben Wolford

The university anticipates a $2.5 million budget deficit for the 2009 fiscal year if state funding doesn’t increase.

President Lester Lefton said the administration is still working out how to make up for the losses.

“I’m hoping we’re going to see increases in retention,” he said. “We’re recruiting very vigorously for a larger freshman class that will help. Some of this is tied up in what happens with (faculty contract) negotiations.”

The rising costs of food and gas have contributed to the greater expenses.

Robert Heisler, interim senior vice president for administration, also cited the state’s two year tuition freeze on public institutions.

“If the state’s going to put a cap on some of our bigger revenue opportunities, which of course is tuition,” he said, “then we’ve got to figure out how to manage expenses a little more smartly.”

Heisler said he hopes the new Responsibility Center Management budget model will help achieve his goal of better expense management.

The university expects a deficit of $4 million for the concluding 2008 fiscal year that ends June 30.

Meanwhile, the Board of Trustees has authorized a one-time, $13 million dip into investment returns to cover the anticipated losses over 2008 and 2009, Lefton said in an earlier interview.

“This one-time money, you can do for a year or two,” Lefton said, “but you just can’t do it on a go forward basis.”

Heisler said balancing the budget would be an ongoing project for him.

Contact principal reporter Ben Wolford at [email protected].