By Denise Dick
Although Youngs-town State University continues to grapple with tight finances, there’s been no discussion of administrative and nonunion employees taking voluntary pay cuts or unpaid furloughs like last year.
“While the budget is the subject of continuing, ongoing and daily discussion, the issue of again asking this group of employees for furlough days, vacation days, etc. has not come up for discussion as of yet,” Ron Cole, YSU spokesman, said in an email.
In October 2011, shortly after the university reached new and concessionary contracts with its two largest employee unions, President Cynthia E. Anderson announced that she and her cabinet had agreed to take six unpaid furlough days and she asked other supervisory employees to follow their lead.
The request came as the university faced a projected $7 million deficit because of a reduction in state funding and a decrease in enrollment.
This year, YSU again saw an enrollment drop, from 14,541 to 13,813.
“But, I’m sure you’re aware that this group of nonunion employees falls under the same wage (actually, a two-year pay freeze) and health care contributions as all other employees,” Cole said. “The furlough/vacation givebacks last year were in addition to that.”
Last spring, the university was facing a $7 million revenue shortfall in fiscal year 2013.
“When the board [of trustees] passed the budget in July, we were able to fill that gap with savings from positions not being filled, we raised tuition and also some other savings and some cutbacks in operations,” Cole said.
The furloughs were voluntary last year, but the president said in a memo at that time that they could become mandatory this year.
Last November, more than 160 of the 211 nonunion administrative employees volunteered about $350,000 in concessions through furloughs, forfeited vacations, monetary contribution or some combination.
“I don’t think that anything’s been ruled out,” Cole said. “The budget is always a topic of ongoing discussion and dissection, but at this point there’s been no formal discussion about doing that again this year.”
He said YSU passed a balanced budget of $179 million and believes it will get through this fiscal year with that balanced budget.
It’s too early to make a determination about next year, though.
“Next year there are three unknowns: the tuition cap, which will be set by the state; what our enrollment will be, and what the state will do in terms of state subsidies,” the spokesman said. “Those are three major components to our budget. Not knowing what those will be, it’s hard to say what we’re facing for fiscal year 2014.”
Paul Trimacco Sr., president of the Association of Classified Employees, said the furlough issue hasn’t really come up but could be discussed at a labor-management meeting planned in the next couple of weeks.