Regents call Jan. 7 budget meeting | NevadaAppeal.com

Regents call Jan. 7 budget meeting

The Board of Regents has called a special meeting Jan. 7 to discuss how to meet budget reductions ordered by Gov. Jim Gibbons. And the agenda makes it clear the board will put some of the weight of the cuts on the students and the faculty.

“One thing the board has made clear through the chair is nothing’s off the table,” said Executive Vice Chancellor Dan Klaich.

The back-up materials provided for the meeting show that the university system still is looking at across the board cuts of 4.5 percent. Using that percentage, Western Nevada College would lose $1.89 million and the University of Nevada, Reno $18.6 million over the biennium.

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas would have to cut budgets more than $18 million, Great Basin College $1.4 million and Truckee Meadows Community College $3.65 million.

Altogether, the total the system must cut is $57.6 million.

Klaich said the issue of whether the smaller campuses – Western Nevada College and Great Basin College – are less able to absorb cuts than the big campuses has been raised and will probably be part of the discussion Jan. 7 as well.

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“But I’m not really prepared to say at this point that one institution’s pain is greater or less than another,” he said.

The meeting will take place at UNLV but university officials are hoping they can televise it through the Internet.

The options include what was described as “a temporary suspension of the board’s policy on the use of Capital Improvement Fee funds generated by student fees.” Those fees were supported by students to help pay for specific projects such as the student union building at UNR. They are levied as a per-credit charge on the student body.

Under the proposal before regents, the rules would be changed to allow the money to be used to cover reductions in operating budgets.

But Klaich said the portion encumbered to help pay off the student union and the amount going to the fire service academy in Carlin cannot be touched.

In addition, the board will consider a “campus-specific student surcharge.” That, however, would probably require approval from the Interim Finance Committee.

Faculty can expect to bear some of the weight as well. The agenda says merit funding may be surrendered as part of the plan. The merit pool is provided by the Legislature at an overall rate of 2.5 percent of salary funding. It is used to provide raises to teaching faculty for exceptional performance.

“I know at a number of campuses they’ve done the right thing, which is to go first to their faculty and see to what extent they can get faculty support,” he said.

Other items on the table include money appropriated for one-shot projects and capital improvement funding.

Klaich said Regents Chairman Michael Wixom “has indicated to me the board wants to have a say in this.”

“The board wants to fully understand what is being recommended and there may be some systemwide decisions only the board can make.”

The details, however, he said will be up to campus presidents in consultation with the chancellor’s office.

He made it clear system officials agree that, if there are going to be cuts, it’s appropriate to spread them across all areas of government.

“There’s a lot of pain and I think sharing it among all the affected constituencies is the right thing to do,” he said.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.