When University administrators said they wanted to keep the effects of budget cuts outside the classroom, they didn’t mean it quite as literally.
Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Dick Mann said at a committee meeting of the Board of Trustees last week that budget cuts have already begun to take a toll on UNC’s landscape.
The number of staff positions in support areas that do not affect students directly, such as grounds services and housekeeping, has been reduced as a result of the cuts, Mann said.
UNC’s Facilities Services Division has taken one of the biggest hits. Almost one-third of its state funding has been cut in the last three years.
About 15 percent of the grounds staff has already been eliminated because of the budget cuts, said Carolyn Elfland, associate vice chancellor for campus services.
These cuts have caused a major reduction in seasonal planting and mowing, she said.
Elfland said the University used to plant seasonal flowers, but now this won’t be possible.
Chief Facilities Officer Van Dobson said the University will not install any new landscaping enhancements. Instead, they will maintain the greenery that has already been planted.
It will become more difficult to sustain the current plants as they reach the end of their lifespans, Dobson said.
He said the grounds department has also stopped spraying weed control in several lawn areas, but it should not have noticeable effects.
“We are focusing the money we have on the greater problems because we want to prevent as much permanent damage as possible,” Elfland said.
Mann said students and faculty will not see the effects of the landscaping cuts immediately, but they might become more apparent down the road.
“We are committed to keeping the campus looking as nice as possible, given the resources,” Mann said.
He added that decreased maintenance staff will also hinder the University’s ability to respond to natural disasters.
But Mann said his main concern is a long-term degradation of UNC’s appearance.
“If there are any more budget cuts down the road, we may not be able to keep up with the beauty of the campus,” he said.
Dobson said campus beauty is still a priority, and the staff is working well on a budget.
“One of the biggest drawing points of UNC is the appearance of the campus,” he said.
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