YSU announces budget reduction plan

Fifteen staff employees will be laid off and 43 vacant positions will be eliminated under a $3.8 million budget reduction plan announced today by Youngstown State University.

“Three years of enrollment decline and the continued loss of state funding support represent permanent challenges that have resulted in a structural deficit in the university’s operating budget,” said Ikram Khawaja, interim president.

“While these actions alone do not resolve our fiscal problems, we believe that they are yet another crucial step toward helping balance our budget while at the same time protecting as much as possible the academic and other services that are important to our students’ continued success.”

YSU’s state allocations and tuition revenue have decreased by a combined $19.5 million over the last three years, and those losses could increase to $22 million next year.

The personnel measures were included in the university’s $173 million fiscal year 2015 operating budget approved earlier this week by the YSU Board of Trustees’ Finance and Facilities Committee.

Forty-three budgeted positions, which are currently vacant, will be removed entirely from the budget. In addition, 15 non-teaching staff employees will be laid off. Affected employees are being notified this week.

Khawaja said the layoffs are very unfortunate and difficult, but he noted that personnel costs make up more than 70 percent of the university’s general fund operating expenses.

Neal McNally, interim vice president of Finance and Administration, said the university still faces a structural budget deficit of about $7 million and will continue to explore additional budget savings, including possible further reductions in personnel.

“The university cannot continue to operate in an environment of deficit-spending where expenses are significantly greater than revenue,” he said.

The position eliminations and layoffs are the latest in a series of actions to help reduce spending. Since 2012, the university’s operating budget has been reduced by $8 million. Last year, 19 vacant staff positions were removed from the budget, and earlier this fiscal year four non-teaching staff employees were laid off. Also last year, actions were implemented to save nearly $5 million in operating expenses, discretionary spending and overhead costs, including voluntary furlough and vacation givebacks by employees.

“Through a combination of already implemented budget reductions and other reductions that will be implemented during the course of fiscal year 2015, university management has made notable strides to mitigate the operating deficit,” McNally said. “However, much work still lies ahead.”

The reduction plan was developed over several weeks by the YSU Budget Development Council, consisting of employees from across every division of the university and chaired by Charles Howell, dean of the Beeghly College of Education, in conjunction with Khawaja, McNally and other university vice presidents.