By Denise Dick
About halfway through the fiscal year, Youngstown State University officials are “cautiously optimistic” that budget cuts made earlier this year will be effective in slicing a projected $6.6 million deficit.
The plan announced earlier this year includes a freeze in discretionary spending, laying off five full-time and four part-time nonfaculty employees, asking for voluntary furlough or vacation-day givebacks, campuswide operating budget cuts, technology-expenditure reductions and energy savings.
The deficit was caused by three years of declining enrollment and lower state support.
“The budget plan is on schedule; it’s been put into action and is largely successful,” Gene Grilli, vice president of finance and administration, told university trustees at committee meetings Thursday.
The state share of instruction YSU expects to receive for fiscal year 2014 is expected to be less than last year.
“What we have worried about and based our budget plan around has been confirmed,” YSU President Randy J. Dunn said.
Grilli said energy savings, which were projected at $150,000, may garner additional savings.
The budget also plans for less of an enrollment change between fall and spring semester than what’s generally realized. There’s usually a drop from fall to spring semester, but there may be more savings than anticipated on that front, too, the president said.
“The early signs are good on spring enrollment,” he said.
Grilli said the reductions in operational expenses have been successful so far.
“I think we’re doing the very best we can,” he said.
Dunn said he’s “cautiously optimistic” about the budget plan.
In other business, the trustees’ finance and facilities committee approved a 3 percent rate increase for the University Courtyard Apartments for 2014-15. Trustee Harry Meshel voted against the increase.
“We’ve done a good job over the last three years of holding the rates,” said Jack Fahey, vice president for student affairs.
But the building has incurred expenses, including a 2012 lightning strike that knocked out the power, and it’s reaching an age where hot-water heaters, air-conditioning units and some appliances must be replaced, he said.
About 400 students live in the building, which has a 95 percent occupancy rate.
The increase takes the monthly rent for a one-bedroom/one-bath unit from $735 to $757.