YSU faces $6.6 million deficit

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Youngstown State University is trying to dig itself out of a $6.6 million deficit for its 2013-14 fiscal year budget.

YSU President Dr. Randy Dunn said a decrease in enrollment is the biggest factor for the deficit.  Enrollment is down more than 3 percent, which accounts for about half of the projected deficit.

YSU has lost $16 million in revenue from decreased enrollment over the past two years. Tuition and enrollment are down this year by an additional $4.2 million.

Dunn said there are plans to hire an enrollment manager, who will develop plans to attract more students.

The school also is losing money from the state. This year, YSU received nearly $1.5 million less than normal.

The school is implementing a plan to get back in the black.

“We’re looking to determine the best way to deal with that bogey in the budget and get it fixed for this year,” Dunn said.

Employees across campus will be asked to voluntarily take non-paid furlough days or to voluntarily give up vacation days for a projected savings of $230,000. Personnel reductions will include the layoff of five full-time and four part-time non-faculty employees, amounting to savings of $663,000, a news release from the university stated.

“And it’s also the case that we have had to do some hiring to cover vacancies that initially we thought we could keep open for the year,” Dunn said.

Operating expenses also are on chopping block, including everything related to supplies, equipment and travel, which would save a projected $2.9 million.

“We won’t necessarily see the effect of that in one year. These things can take time to get some traction, but I think as we look at the pieces  to go in place to build our numbers, we’ll see some success over the next couple of years,” Dunn said.

Other cost cutting measures include the delaying of infrastructure projects, and a reduction in technology expenditures, maintenance, office supplies and energy usage.

News of the school’s budget woes spread quickly around campus, with students sharing how they believe things got to this point.

“They’re too lenient with their money. They just pass it out like it’s candy and then worry about the consequences later,” said student Travis Donaldson.

“There’s a combination of things as far as the decrease in enrollment. You have more community colleges around here, which are giving people more options for their career choice,” said student Aaron Poindexter.

Dunn said the university plans to end the fiscal year with a zero deficit.

Union members at YSU responded to the cuts with a news release of their own. They said they were disappointed that trustees decided to “implement decisions regarding reduction in personnel rather than explore more innovative solutions as they attempt to deal with the university’s budget deficit.”

However, they also said they were pleased that Dunn agreed with the unions’ request to create a joint task force to come up with solutions for the university’s budget woes. The task force will consist of Dunn, a member of the Board of the Trustees, and two representatives from each of the four unions: YSU-OEA representing faculty, YSU-ACE representing classified civil service employees, YSU-APAS representing professional and administrative employees and YSU-FOP representing the police department.

“It is unfortunate that these budget cuts were formulated without input from the dedicated men and women who know the most about the day-to-day and year-to-year operation of YSU: the faculty members who teach the students, the employees who literally keep the lights on, and the professionals who provide essential services to the students, faculty, and administration on a daily basis,” the union’s release said.

The unions said they have offered to work with the trustees in the past to craft a long-term strategy that would place YSU on firm financial ground.

“We asked President Dunn to approve the formation of a joint task force that will study the university’s fiscal condition and explore creative alternatives to avert the layoffs that were announced today.  President Dunn agreed with our request without reservation.  We are confident that this task force can complete this critically important task if every member shares our commitment to the long-term sustainability and viability of YSU,” the union’s release states.

To read the full YSU release, click here.

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