Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

May 14, 1998

Employees won't see raises until September

Gov. Ridge and the General Assembly already have passed a state budget, and Pitt's fiscal year doesn't begin until July 1.

Even so, salary raises for faculty and staff won't show up in employees' paychecks until the end of September, retroactive to July.

"Why not?" demanded Tom Anderson, chairperson of the geology and planetary science department, at the May 1 meeting of the University Senate's budget policies committee (BPC).

"You know how this place operates," replied Art Ramicone, interim vice chancellor for Finance.

Pitt's FY 1998-99 budget must be approved first by the Board of Trustees budget committee (scheduled to meet June 18) and then by the full board (June 25), Ramicone and Vice Provost Robert Pack noted.

Under board bylaws, the Pitt administration must mail copies of the University's proposed operating and capital budgets to the trustees' budget committee two weeks before the committee meets.

After trustees approve the budget, University administrators must provide employee records to the payroll office, send raise-notification letters to departments, and notify banks where employees have direct deposit, among other procedures.

"We can't do all of that by the first week of July," Ramicone said.

In an interview this week, Ramicone said Pitt's senior administration is still working out details of the proposed operating and capital budgets — based partly on salary and tuition raise data from universities with which Pitt competes for students and faculty. Most of those universities haven't approved budgets for next year either, Ramicone said.

He added: "When we talked this over last year with the responsibility centers, with the people in the trenches who are responsible for processing budget data, they asked us not to change our time frame [for implementing raises] from Sept. 30 back to July 31. They said, 'It would be too much, we're trying to close our books, we're trying to submit our budget data for next year, we plan our vacation schedules around the Sept. 30 time frame. Please don't change it." Anderson and other professors serving on BPC didn't buy the admininistration's explanations.

In previous years when Pitt raises were held until the end of September, budget impasses in Harrisburg were to blame — but that isn't the case this year, BPC members said. They suggested that trustees move up their meeting dates.

"Why don't we go to Frank Cahouet and say, 'You wouldn't do business like this at Mellon Bank. Why do we do it at the University of Pittsburgh?'" asked Anderson, referring to trustees budget committee chairperson Frank Cahouet, who is chairman, president and CEO of Mellon Bank.

If Pitt trustees and administrators are "playing games" by intentionally withholding employee raise funds until Sept. 30, earning interest on the money in the meantime, they should come out and say so, Anderson said. If not, trustees should approve Pitt's budget in time for raises to appear in employees' end-of-July paychecks, he argued.

Ramicone estimated that Pitt will earn $30,000 in interest for each month it withholds salary increases, but denied that was the reason raises won't show up in paychecks until the end of September.

A two-month delay in receiving, say, a 3 percent salary raise would cost an employee earning $30,000-to-$40,000 only about $1 in potential interest earnings, Ramicone said.

Professors on eight-month contracts — who constitute most of Pitt's faculty, and most of the University's higher paid employees — won't be affected by the delay, he added.

Board of Trustees secretary Robert Dunkelman pointed out that board meetings are scheduled a year or more in advance. "It's pretty tough to get these people together on rather short notice," he said.

"If the chancellor and the board chairman and others felt there should be a special meeting to approve a budget earlier than June 25, I suppose it could be arranged," Dunkelman said. "But in all probability I doubt if that would happen." The full board meets only three times a year. But the trustees' executive committee (scheduled to meet tomorrow, May 15) is empowered to act on the board's behalf. In fact, last year marked only the third time in the last decade that a state budget was passed in time for the full Pitt board, rather than its executive committee, to approve the University's budget.

Ramicone and Dunkelman agreed there's no way the administration could have presented a budget proposal to the executive committee by tomorrow.

Budget delays in Harrisburg became the norm during the 1980s. In 1989, University administrators even considered, but decided against, changing the Pitt fiscal year's starting date from July 1 to Sept. 1.

— Bruce Steele

Leave a Reply