Budget update: Nov. 27

November 27, 2019

Tori Tragis

Thank you to all who attended last week’s budget forum, in person or online. We had over 200 participants. I appreciate the time you took to engage in this topic and the thoughtful questions you shared online and in person. I’d like to recap a few questions and answers this week.

Q: What is UAF doing to reduce administrative costs?

A: Between spring 2015-2019 UAF is down 151 faculty, including adjuncts, and 242 regular and temporary staff, including senior administrators. As part of our FY20 and FY21 budget planning, UAF is conducting an expedited administrative review led by governance. This review of administration will be a first of its kind for UAF and is being done to parallel our expedited academic review. We will also look to increase our use of shared services across UAF. Arriving at the right approach to shared services, however, will require feedback and collective buy-in. We will not rush into a new shared service model but build on the shared services organically grown and already in place at UAF.

Q: It has been several years since the staff at UAF received a COLA increase. Is there any hope that this will happen in FY21?

A: The system’s FY21 budget guidance includes a 1 percent general compensation adjustment in addition to the market adjustments underway to bring all regular employees to 90 percent of the market median.

Q: The salary survey has concluded and UA is working to get employees towards a more competitive wage. The Board of Regents approved $3+ million for FY20 towards this effort. Correct? Will I see any of the allocation in my budget to help offset that unexpected expense? Or should I be cutting costs elsewhere?

A: The Board of Regents approved $3.4 million in reallocations in FY20 for market adjustments. Unfortunately, this is not an addition to the University’s budget- it is direction from the Regents to reallocate $3.4 million from other parts of our budget to spend on this effort. This reallocation is occurring at the same time that the University is adjusting to an overall cut of $25M this year to the UA system. At UAF, units were advised in July 2019 to budget for a 1 percent compensation increase for all employees in FY20. At that time it was not clear what form of increase might be approved by the Regents. That 1 percent increase was not included in the FY20 budget in favor of making progress towards 90% of market for employees off this mark. For most units, the funding needed for the market adjustments was within the funding they budgeted for a 1% across the board. For the few units that were disproportionately impacted by the market adjustments, we will be working to address the gap. Additional information about the compensation review process is available from UA Human Resources at https://www.alaska.edu/classification/compensation-review/, updated with new FAQs in November 2019.

Our next forum is this coming Tuesday, December 3, at 1 pm in the Wood Center. It will be focused on tuition — how rates are developed, how that process might be improved, where tuition goes and what it funds, as well as discussion about the latest tuition proposal. I hope you’ll join us.

Thank you for choosing UAF.