SEMO regents take on budget at meeting Friday

Thursday, June 18, 2009
Southeast Missourian/Fred Lynch Academic Hall.

Southeast Missouri State University had to fill a $1.1 million hole in its budget for next year, but the shortfall was less than expected, said Southeast president Dr. Ken Dobbins.

Faculty and staff did not receive raises and divisions within the university trimmed expenses to balance the budget. The university's board of regents will meet Friday to consider the university and auxiliary operating budgets.

In December, university officials were bracing for up to $11.1 million in budget cuts based on state budget shortfalls. The state maintained its level of funding, $47.2 million, by using stimulus money.

Southeast's budget includes $5.4 million in stimulus funds, which made it easier to balance, Dobbins said.

"It did what it was designed to do," he said.

State legislators will have stimulus money at its disposal to appropriate next year. Dobbins said university budgets could face bigger cuts in 2012 when the funds are no longer available.

"We're concerned about 2011 but we're really concerned about 2012," he said.

The university did not raise fees as part of an agreement with Gov. Jay Nixon to keep state funding at the same level as last year. Despite consistent state funds, Southeast had to make up for a $1.1 million budget shortfall in its $96.9 million budget because of increased operational costs.

Each division within the university cut its budget by reducing noninstructional costs by 3 percent and instructional costs by 2 percent. Dobbins said many open positions were not filled and the university started putting more of its publications online to cut printing expenses.

Part-time workers will also have to help pay for health insurance. Dobbins said half-time employees previously received full health coverage. They will now have to pay for half of their coverage, saving the university $82,700, he said.

Faculty and staff received a 3.25 percent raise last year. There are no increases in the budget aside from merit-based promotions. The budget includes one addition, a $25,000 allocation for international student recruitment and retention.

The regents will also consider a new animal policy at the meeting. Dobbins said the university has been receiving complaints for more than a year. The university did not have an established rule, and policies varied throughout campus buildings, he said.

"We wanted to make it a consistent policy that's fair," Dobbins said.

Under the new policy animals will not be allowed in university buildings or athletic fields except for service animals and others used for research.

The regents will meet at 1 p.m. at Kent Library.

abusch@semissourian.com

388-3627

Editor's note: As a matter of clarification, it should be noted that the insurance changes to part-time employees laid out in this story would not affect current part-time employees until January of 2012. It will affect new part-time employees beginning July 1, according to a spokeswoman at the university.

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