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UI opens voluntary furlough option

Lewiston Tribune

Employees at the University of Idaho will have the option to take as many as five days of voluntary furlough as the university works to reduce its current budget by $1 million, following a request from Gov. Brad Little.

In late October, Little asked all state agencies to trim their budgets for the current fiscal year by 1 percent, and instructed them to identify another 2 percent base reduction for the coming year.

The reduction to UI’s budget follows $14 million in cuts already in place, with more on the way, as the university’s deficit is projected to grow to $22 million by fiscal year 2022.

In a memo sent out to UI faculty and staff Wednesday, President Scott Green said the idea for offering voluntary furloughs surfaced from feedback the university received after a Nov. 7 budget forum.

“One suggestion we have heard repeatedly, and one that brings me great pride in our shared commitment to our university, is voluntary employee furlough,” Green said. “While volunteering for furlough is no small thing, it is an expedient and immediate way for employees to help the university reduce costs, and there appears to be strong interest from our employees to contribute.”

While the voluntary furlough is expected to cover the $1 million reduction, UI has yet to decide how to address the $2 million cut imposed by the state in fiscal year 2021.

Eligible employees can take furlough for as many as five days through late spring.

“There is no requirement to participate, nor are there repercussions for those who decide not to participate,” Green said. “This is a very personal decision, and we respect whatever choice you make.”

Green stated he plans to take five days of furlough, as will 95 percent of the cabinet.

UI will also offer voluntary separation incentive and optional retirement incentive programs, although details in regards to those two options are not yet available.

In a memo sent Oct. 30, Green outlined other possible budget cuts the university will consider as tuition revenue is expected to decline over the next two years, resulting in the need for $8 million of additional cuts.

Those include the elimination of academic programs, centralizing services across the university, organizational restructuring and outsourcing or contracting out some services, as well as possible layoffs, not renewing contracts, salary reductions and not filling vacant positions.

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