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May 15, 2008

BPC wants FY09 budget details

The University Senate budget policies committee wants a detailed explanation of the proposed fiscal year 2009 budget before making its annual recommendation on the distribution of the salary pool increase.

The committee has asked Vice Chancellor for Budget and Controller Art Ramicone to walk members through Pitt’s proposed budget in a closed session at its May 23 meeting as BPC ponders its salary pool recommendation.

The University planning and budgeting committee (UPBC) April 30 approved its FY09 budget recommendation, including its own salary pool recommendation, to the chancellor, said BPC chair Stephen Carr, who sits on UPBC.

That proposal has not been made public. The chancellor submits a final budget proposal to the Board of Trustees for action, but Pitt’s budget typically is not approved until the state legislature decides the amount of the University’s appropriation.

If recent history holds, the state legislature’s budget decision isn’t likely to be made prior to the June 30 end of the fiscal year.

The last time the legislature approved a budget prior to June 30 was in 2002, when a deal was signed June 28. Last year, some state workers were furloughed in the absence of a budget, which finally was approved July 16. The delay prevented Pitt’s trustees from voting on the University’s budget at their June meeting and postponed until July 25 the chancellor’s announcement of tuition and salary pool increases.

This year UPBC was faced with a number of serious issues that impact Pitt’s bottom line, Carr told BPC members at the committee’s May 2 meeting. Among them is the governor’s proposal for a 1.3 percent increase in state support for Pitt, rising Port Authority transit contract costs, Pitt’s participation in the Pittsburgh Public Service Fund (the consortium of property tax exempted non-profits that make a contribution to the city) and tight federal grants.

While small increases in health insurance costs and record student enrollment are pluses for the budget, question marks remain about the cost of utilities, which are market-based and have yet to be set, Ramicone told BPC.

In other business:

•BPC requested the University’s annual report comparing faculty salaries at the Pittsburgh campus with its peer group of 33 fellow public Association of American Universities (AAU) institutions. Ramicone said some data from peer schools in California had not been available, but he would have the report once all the data were received.

•Carr asked co-secretaries Balwant Dixit and Philip Wion to serve as a nominating committee, soliciting nominees for BPC offices. Reorganization of the committee may take place at the June 13 meeting.

•A presentation on the University’s attribution study was given in executive session. The study attributes revenues and expenses to the University’s academic units and other responsibility centers, including athletics. The document, now in draft form, will not be made public until it is final. It was anticipated the final document would be available by BPC’s June 13 meeting.

—Kimberly K. Barlow

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