- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 31, 2016

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - The state agency that compiles geologic data faces a financial crunch and potential job cuts after state officials made it part of the University of Arizona without providing any funding.

State Geologist Lee Allison has warned staffers at the Arizona Geological Survey that they could face layoffs after the change becomes official on July 1, reported The Arizona Daily Star (https://bit.ly/1XMMJJd).

Gov. Doug Ducey pushed for the consolidation bill, which calls for the Geological Survey’s state duties to continue but doesn’t give the University of Arizona money to support the agency’s employees. The Geological Survey and the University of Arizona both said they didn’t request the consolidation and were surprised when the governor announced it during a budget message in January.

Ducey’s policy adviser for natural resources, Hunter Moore, said the survey was moved to the University of Arizona because the research institutions have “a lot of crossover and synergy.”

The Geological Survey’s duties include monitoring earthquakes, mapping mineral deposits and investigating geological disturbances, according to the Daily Star.

Allison said the university told him it will provide the $941,000 in funding the state provided last year, but only for one year. Allison said the school also will claim 85 percent of the overhead money provided to the Geological Survey in federal grants. In previous years, Allison used those funds to double his operating revenue.

Caroline Garcia, the university’s associate vice president for research, said the financial arrangements are still being negotiated and the school is not ready to comment.

Allison said the school is being generous in its approach to the consolidation.

“They are getting an added burden with no direct appropriations,” he said. “They are doing more than required.”

University of Arizona spokesman Chris Sigurdson said that although the school didn’t initiate the consolidation, it makes scientific sense and is in line with the university’s mission.

“The details under discussion include making sure we don’t have to support the operation with tuition dollars,” Sigurdson said. “That’s been one of the criteria we’ve put in place for several non-academic programs.”

Some people who rely on the survey’s information are opposed to the consolidation.

“In concept, it isn’t a bad idea; in reality, it’s a nightmare,” said Rick Grinnell, vice president of the Southern Arizona Business Coalition, which supports the mining industry. He said he’s concerned about the survey’s future funding.

Grinnell said Allison “has just done an amazing job over there.”

“It’s not broken,” he said. “It doesn’t need to be fixed.”


Information from: Arizona Daily Star, https://www.tucson.com

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