ENMU president expects funding cuts

By Argen Duncan: PNT Senior Writer

Eastern New Mexico University’s president predicts the school will
be able to weather legislative funding cuts this year, but will have
problems if decreases continue in subsequent years.

At Monday’s board of regents meeting, President Steven Gamble said
he anticipates a 5 percent funding cut all around in the 2009
Legislative session, but the school’s budget can handle the decreases.

“It will be with some pain, but we can withstand them,” Gamble said.

However, if the 2010 session brings more funding cuts, he continued,
reserves will be gone and balancing the budget will be painful.

Vice President for Business Affairs Scott Smart presented a list of
projects ENMU already has funded. These include the music building, a
new greenhouse, electrical distribution work, natatorium improvements
and KENW digital conversion.

However, Smart showed other needed projects have no funding. Gamble
hopes to receive $6 million to $8 million from a 2010 general
obligation bond for replacement of corroding hot water pipes across
campus, more electrical distribution work and Greyhound Arena heating,
ventilation and air conditioning.

Also, Smart said most money the university has on hand is already
allocated for specific uses. Only $463,000 would be available for
capital outlay projects.

On a positive note, Eastern has several possible one-time funding
opportunities, including an increase in funds from public land use and
Legislative appropriations for technology.

For recurring funds, the university could see financial benefits of $1.7 million, according to Smart and Gamble’s estimates.

Gamble said administration would probably recommend the elimination
of extra pay based on performance, and Eastern could save money by not
filling vacated positions.

The president also said the university is seeing a 3 percent
increase — about $600,000 — in tuition and fee revenues this academic
year because of increased enrollment, Gamble said.

“That’s probably going to save our bacon,” Gamble said of the tuition and fee money.

The president wants to push for another 3 percent increase in
semester credit hours in the next academic year to qualify for $800,000
in new money from the state.

As for potential negative financial impacts, Gamble showed
calculations indicating the university could lose up to $3.8 million
from funding cuts and increased operating costs.