The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday January 20th

No furloughs included in this year's budget cuts

Despite having the authority to use them for the first time, UNC officials said furloughs will not be used this year to address budget cuts.

During a Tuesday meeting of the Employee Forum executive committee, officials debated the use of furloughs — a temporary, unpaid leave period — as a potential method to balance the University’s budget.

Due to the nature of this year’s 5 percent budget cut, several officials said a furlough would not be an effective means to tighten University spending.

“It’s used when you want to find a one-time savings,” said Richard Mann, vice chancellor for finance and administration, in an interview Wednesday. “It wouldn’t be a permanent budget cut.”

That sentiment was echoed in the UNC-system Board of Governors’ guidelines for implementing furlough authorization adopted July 29.

“Furloughs may be used only to meet one-time budget reductions … Furloughs are not a viable solution for long-term or recurring budget challenges,” the guidelines read.

The guidelines stipulate that a maximum of five furlough days may be taken. Much like the state budget provision allowing system schools to raise tuition by as much as $750, the decision to implement the furlough could possibly be delegated to the chancellor.

On Sept. 2, Gov. Bev Perdue asked all state agencies to prepare scenarios of 5, 10 and 15 percent budget cuts to help close a $3.3 billion shortfall in the state budget.

Jackie Overton, employee forum chairwoman, said the University was only asked to prepare for the first two scenarios.

She added that furloughs would be a much better option than laying off employees to save money.

“This is the first year the University has been given furlough authority, so it’s a historical moment,” Overton said.

Matt Brody, associate vice chancellor for human resources, said the financial implications of a furlough are not in line with the University’s budget reduction plan.

“Because furloughs provide only one-time savings as opposed to permanent, recurring savings, their uses can be limited as an expense-cutting option,” he said in an e-mail.

While the issue may arise again, furloughs cannot currently be imposed on any employee whose prorated full-time annual base salary is lower than $32,000.

Overton said the University may lobby the state legislature for furlough authorization beyond this year if budget woes persist.

But Mann said there is no indication that such authorization will be necessary.

“I don’t see anything on the horizon now that would have us consider the need for furloughs,” he said.

Contact the University Editor at udesk@unc.edu.

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