- Associated Press - Saturday, November 21, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - University of New Mexico officials are looking at ways to bridge a multimillion-dollar gap in the budget.

The university’s associate vice president of planning, budget and analysis Andrew Cullen told members of the board of regents Friday that no new revenue is anticipated as fixed costs increase by an expected $3.5 million, the Albuquerque Journal reported (https://bit.ly/1lBleU3 ).

Utility costs alone are expected to increase by $600,000.

Budget issues are expected to be impacted by falling oil and gas tax revenue as well. The state draws on those funds for the university’s budget.

Regent Jaime Koch and others say the university should operate under the assumption that oil and gas revenue funds will not increase. They say a tuition increase should not be considered.

Falling enrollment is also impacting the budget. Each 1-percent drop in tuition takes about $2 million out of the university’s revenue.

A program that encourages students to graduate faster caused revenue to fall by $1.5 million.

“It is the right thing to do for the students, but not so good for our budget,” said University President Bob Frank.

Health benefits are expected to cost the university about $4 million more next year.

The university is evaluating about 100 vacant positions. Regents may cut those unfilled roles.

University staff council president Crystal Davis told regents that many staff members are taking up the slack of those vacant roles, doing sometimes three times the work and putting in extra hours.

“This year, the budget will be supplemented by staff positions,” she said.

She said morale has been hurt by a proposal to give some professors merit raises, but not staff members.

The university has promised to spend about $1 million on raises and academic affairs expenses.

“We are unsure of the value of the staff as seen through the eyes of . regents,” she said.

Regents will likely discuss budget options in December.


Information from: Albuquerque Journal, https://www.abqjournal.com

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