- Associated Press - Friday, May 13, 2016

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) - Facing budget cuts that will likely mean cutting jobs, University of Wyoming trustees approved reductions in their own expenses although some trustees said they could do more.

The trustees this week approved spending $229,000 in fiscal year 2017 for travel, catering and lodging and other board meeting and activity expenses. That is down from about $302,000 that they spent in fiscal year 2015.

“As a board of trustees, we have to make these cuts wherever possible,” trustee Larry Gubbels said, noting the board will be cutting the spending of other UW departments. “We have to be willing to do it also.”

Airfare costs have been the largest board expense. The proposed FY 2017 budget provides $90,000 for trustee usage of the UW aircraft, down from nearly $132,000 in FY 2015, the Laramie Boomerang reported (http://bit.ly/1TKpoCf).

Trustee John McKinley said it costs about $1,200 per flight hour to fly trustees in for meetings.

“Because of the large geographic area, it’s important that’s available to encourage full involvement by trustees,” McKinley said.

The 12-member board, along with five ex-officio members, oversees operations and sets tuition at the state’s only public, four-year university. Gov. Matt Mead on Wednesday said the university will have to cut $35 million from its new two-year budget, which was already trimmed by the Legislature earlier this year, because of falling state revenues.

UW President Dick McGinity said the university will have to cut personnel although how many has not been determined.

Catering expenses have also been a large budget item, costing more than $61,000 in 2015. McKinley plans on cutting the cost nearly in half to $32,000.

Some of the savings have already begun. Trustees are now on their own for a morning meal instead of starting the day with a working breakfast and are eating packed lunches rather than a buffet.

“We save $2,000 a meeting if we eat beforehand and then come to the meeting,” McKinley said.

However, some trustees believed they could do more.

Trustee Mike Massie noted that the reduction to $229,000 wasn’t all that much because the $302,000 spent in FY 2015 exceeded the projected budget of $240,000 for that year.

He said more savings could be found, such as holding fewer large dinner events with constituents and others.

In the end, Massie, Gubbels and two other trustees voted against the spending plan.

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Information from: Laramie Boomerang, http://www.laramieboomerang.com

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