Bus fee, communication restructuring withdrawn from budget proposal

Bus fee, communication restructuring withdrawn from budget proposal

Nebraska's Neihardt Residence Hall complex
Troy Fedderson | University Communication

Students, faculty and staff won’t have to pay higher fees in 2018 to support bus service to and from Nebraska Innovation Campus, University of Nebraska-Lincoln officials announced Dec. 14.

In addition, a proposed restructuring of communication and marketing functions will be placed on hold.

Because of some improvement to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s budget picture, Chancellor Ronnie Green withdrew two budget reduction proposals from consideration by the Academic Planning Committee. The total amount of budget reallocations remaining has been reduced from nearly $3.8 million to about $3.4 million.

Original proposals had called for a $106,333 reduction in state-funded support for NIC bus service, to be replaced by a $1 increase in the monthly cost of faculty and staff parking permits and a $3.03 increase in transit fees charged students each semester.

“Due to the improved budget situation, the proposal to shift funding sources for NIC bus service was withdrawn to prevent parking fee increases to the university community and to avoid an increase in student fees,” Green said.

In addition, communications and marketing spending was proposed to be reduced by $250,000 through more efficient use of resources and capturing savings from vacant positions.

“While it remains our goal to realign and consolidate communications and marketing functions across campus, this item has been withdrawn because of a transition in communications leadership at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln,” Green said. “We will resume working toward this objective once permanent leadership is in place.”

Chancellor Ronnie Green delivers the State of the 2016 State of the University address in the Lied Center for Performing Arts.
Chancellor Ronnie Green

At one point, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was facing as much as $8.5 million in budget reductions during the budget period ending June 30, 2019. However, on Dec. 5, Green announced he would not move forward with an estimated $4.3 million in proposed program cuts because the University of Nebraska’s budget situation does not yet require it. Health insurance rates had grown at a slower rate than originally projected and cost-savings strategies developed by the university system’s Budget Reduction Teams had resulted in more first-year savings than originally predicted.

The changes reduced the flagship institution’s projected budget gap to $3.3 million, which allowed the proposed spending reductions to be withdrawn. Learn more about the remaining proposals. The proposals will be considered at an Academic Planning Committee hearing on Jan. 17.

The announcement does not necessarily mean the university has escaped budget cuts. Green has warned that the university may face additional reductions in 2018-19 if declining tax receipts result in the Legislature further reducing state aid to the University of Nebraska system.