UH plans for future budget cuts

The top nine priorities in UH’s 5 percent reduction plan submitted to the state’s Legislative Budget Board on Feb. 15 are still under assessment, and could be for a while.

“The plans we are submitting are subject to review by the LBB, and we will probably not get subsequent direction for some time,” Executive Vice President of Administration and Finance Carl Carlucci said. “As required by the LBB, this list represents a reduction in our state appropriation and includes only those items funded directly by state appropriations.”

UH has begun implementing certain efficiency items and equipment to save money for future reduction plans. These include single-source purchasing contracts, equipment consolidations, longer replacement cycles for computers, replacing paper processes with electronic processes and paper recycling, according to the UH Budget Office’s Web site.

The top nine priorities in the reduction plan include business process and equipment efficiencies, communication allowance reductions and public service.

“As an example, we estimate that we can recycle 1,000 tons of copy paper, for which we would be paid about $200,000,” Carlucci said.

UH also plans to save money by encouraging employees to turn off the 17,000 desktop computers on campus.

“Last year, we put in place a new contract for electricity that saved us $1 million per year. Making sure that our computers and monitors are powered down when not in use could save us an estimated $250,000.”

Travel and business expenses will be reduced by 10 percent University-wide, but teleconferencing will be used as a substitute in many situations.

UH pays for the tuition of graduate students who work as graduate assistants. The new plan, however, outlines a shift in support for research assistants.

In addition, a one-day furlough for all faculty and staff will be instituted this year.

Staff positions will be reduced with the layoff of approximately 83 employees, according to the Division of Administration and Finance of the University of Houston.

Carlucci stressed that layoffs are a last resort.

“Staff reductions would be the last step we would take, although we may immediately have to maintain a higher-than-normal position vacancy rate to accumulate savings,” Carlucci said. “Some of these plans would be painful, but the UH community has offered many suggestions that we can implement to help avoid the worst of these.”

UH administrators have been engaged in budget discussions this week and have yet to come up with a complete conclusion.

“Final decisions on specific cuts are still under review,” Director of Media Relations Richard Bonnin said.

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