Campus News

Slowdown in tax collections leads to budget cuts at UGA

Tim Burgess
Tim Burgess

Another round of budget cuts, called for by Gov. Nathan Deal this summer amid continually disappointing tax revenue collections, led to a 3 percent reduction plan for the 2013 and 2014 fiscal-year budgets. At UGA, that reduction from the state funds currently appropriated for the FY 2013 budget was approximately $11 million. UGA is planning for this cut to continue into next year with this same amount being reduced from its FY 2014 base budget.

The University System of Georgia Board of Regents set a priority to protect against impact on students and the instructional mission. 

Based on previous reduction plans submitted by vice presidents and deans, a budget reduction plan was developed covering  the university’s resident instruction operations. Separate plans were developed by colleges that operate “B”-unit functions like the Cooperative Extension, Agricultural Experiment Stations and Marine Institute that help extend UGA’s reach throughout the state.

As a result, university administrators estimate that as many as 130 current positions may need to be cut as they become vacant through attrition. In addition, 40 newly funded positions associated with various strategic initiatives will not be filled this academic year. Of the remainder of the reductions, the majority was absorbed centrally rather than being passed along to individual academic units.

The regents approved UGA’s revised budget plan in September.

UGA President Michael F. Adams has said the economic environment leading to continued state cuts “calls for and will continue to call for teamwork and cooperation.” He thanked faculty and staff for the commitment already displayed in recent years.

“It has been said that difficulty doesn’t build character but it reveals it,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of people step up. The character of the faculty and staff has been revealed. It’s a character of commitment to the ideals we all share.”

Previous budget cuts have had a significant effect on services in the facilities management and environmental safety divisions, according to Tim Burgess, senior vice president for finance and administration.

Over time, the cuts have resulted in slower response times to campus repair and maintenance projects and  longer processing time to purchase supplies and equipment for university functions.

Despite the budget restraints, the university is moving forward with some priorities, including the third phase of the President’s Faculty Hiring Initiative, several research initiatives and a capital campaign—but at a reduced level during the current fiscal year.

Planning for the continuation of budget cuts in fiscal year 2014, including an estimated $1.3 million reduction to UGA schools and colleges that would reduce operating budgets by a little more than one half of 1 percent, is taking place now. More formal discussions will be held during budget development sessions in the winter of 2013.

As for whether the university is likely to see continued state budget cuts, Burgess said, “there is no guarantee that this is it.”