By LAURA GURFEIN
COLLEGE PARK (Sept. 20, 2009)—The University System of Maryland Board of Regents passed a resolution today outlining recommendations for furloughs and temporary salary reductions for its universities, measures that could begin as soon as early October.
The recommendation is derived from a Maryland-wide effort requiring state employees to take furloughs and temporary salary reductions to accommodate the state fiscal year 2010 budget. USM's actions will represent $26 million in savings for the budget.
"This is always considered a temporary stop-get measure," said USM Chancellor William E. Kirwan after the meeting. "I do not believe we will be needing to implement furloughs" past this fiscal year.
Each university will create a proposal specific to its needs and submit it to Kirwan for review. The chancellor expects to begin receiving proposals next week, as many universities have already prepared plans.
One uniform plan would not be feasible for each campus, Kirwan said. He also encouraged university presidents to do "an extensive amount of consultation" on their campuses in order to devise a comprehensive plan.
The resolution stressed that temporary salary reductions will only be within the fiscal year and that "paid administrative leave days commensurate with the amount of the salary reduction" will be provided.
However, personal leave would not qualify as a substitute for a furlough day and "no overtime or compensatory time may be granted" to make up salary lost through furlough.
Kirwan expects that a number of campuses will choose to shut down on certain days as an "effective and efficient" way of enforcing a furlough for all faculty, staff, and administration on those days. He urged universities to look for days in January, spring break, or the end of May if they choose to shut down campus in order to have little to no disruption to students and class schedules.
Alternatively, universities may try to spread out furloughs to lessen the impact on employees within a certain pay period.
Kirwan referred to a similar, December 2008 resolution dealing with furloughs and temporary salary reductions that suggested salary tiers be used for furlough days to mitigate the effect on lower-paid workers. Universities that responded to inquiries about their furlough and salary plans declined to release details.
Salisbury University's Media Relations Director Richard Culver said in a statement that a furlough plan cannot be discussed publicly until it is approved by the chancellor and "shared with the campus community."
University of Baltimore spokesman Chris Hart said that the university is working on a plan that is not yet finalized, and that "we will minimize the impact on lower-paid employees."
Other universities did not return calls.
USM was originally expected to cut $40 million from its budget using furloughs and temporary salary reductions, Kirwan said.
Capital News Service contributed to this report.