Budget consultations begin in earnest at Memorial University
Monday, April 18, 2016
Since Thursday’s provincial budget, senior administration has been analyzing the various elements of Memorial University’s budget allocations from government and preparing for extensive consultations with the university community.
“Our goal in the coming days is to ensure that the university community understands the nature and scope of the implications of the provincial budget on our operations,” said Dr. Gary Kachanoski. “Through consultations, we will share the budget numbers as well as discuss the possible scenarios and approaches required to bring forward a balanced budget to the May Board of Regents meeting. Above all, our overriding focus will be to minimize the impact on students and academic programming.”
The 2016-17 budget included an additional $4 million grant in lieu of tuition, money to fund current collective agreement salary obligations, and support for the ongoing expansion within the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.
What was not included in the 2016-17 budget was a restoration of funding for deferred maintenance. In last year’s budget, there was a $9.4 million cut in funding for classroom infrastructure renewal and deferred maintenance, and funding in this category remains at zero in the current year.
Additionally, this budget included a reduction in Memorial’s salary budget of $3 million this year, which will be achieved through attrition. A total ongoing salary budget reduction of $6 million per year is expected to be achieved by additional attrition in the following two years.
The university’s base operating budget was further reduced by $8.3 million per year. And, the university was advised that there are additional planned budget cuts over the next three years totaling $10.6 million per year. By 2019-20, this will mean a base budget reduction of $18.9 million annually. Coupled with the salary attrition reduction, this totals $24.9 million less annual funding for the university by 2019-20.
Finally, there was a one-time reduction in operating funds of $2.6 million for this year, and once again government did not provide funds for the pension special payment. They indicated a second, but final, year of the deferral of this payment could be requested based on the understanding that Memorial and government would work on reaching an agreement on how to move forward.
The Faculty of Medicine’s budget is allocated separately from the Department of Health and Community Services, and the Faculty is working to analyze the scope of the impacts on their budget. Beyond direct allocation reductions from the Departments of Advanced Skills and Education and Health and Community Services, the university is also working to understand the impacts of broader budgetary measures like HST and other tax increases. This is in addition to some of last year’s budget impacts, which will have significant implications in the current year.
Consultations begin today with a meeting of the Senate Budget and Planning Committee as well as with students unions. Invitations have gone out for meetings with the various employee unions. On Tuesday, Senate will be briefed, as well as senior academic and administrative leaders. Meetings will also be held with the Finance Committee of the Board of Regents and the University Pensions Committee. From there a multi-year proposal will be developed to bring forward to the Board of Regents on May 19.