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UNG employees may face furloughs as part of 14% budget cuts

An expected budget cut of 14% to all state agencies could cause University of North Georgia employees to be furloughed in the coming fiscal year.

On May 7, the University System of Georgia voted to “provide authority” for a systemwide furlough program that would cause the majority of the system’s employees — including those at UNG — to be furloughed for a certain number of days dependent on annual salary. 

Board of Regents 9th District representative Philip Wilheit said the furlough plan is not set in stone, as final budgeting decisions will still be dependent on actions taken in June by the Georgia legislature. 

The plan is designed to protect the most financially vulnerable, as those who make less than $33,475 will not be furloughed. Employees making more could be furloughed between three and 16 days, with higher-paid employees facing the most unpaid time off. 

UNG president Bonita Jacobs — along with the presidents of all USG schools — would be furloughed for 26 days, equating to a 10% reduction in salary.

The furlough program will be one aspect of UNG’s amended budget proposal, which will account for a 14% decrease in state funding and will be submitted to the Board of Regents per the request of USG chancellor Steve Wrigley. 

Wilheit said the Board of Regents is still in wait and see mode, as it waits on budget proposals from schools as well as the statewide budget decision. For the time being, schools are being asked to provide an answer to how they would reduce spending by 14%, with the furlough program working as a jumping-off point. 

“The furlough is really only one piece of the puzzle,” he said. “It’s a starting point.”

For UNG, furloughs will account for $2.24 million of an expected $12.1 million cutback, according to an email sent to UNG faculty and staff Friday morning by Jacobs and obtained by The Times. That leaves nearly $10 million more to be made in program cuts. 

“We will be considering freezing vacancies, reducing travel and operating budgets — including summer utility savings from reduced operations, and, potentially, early retirement opportunities,” Jacobs wrote. “Reductions in force will be a last resort as we strive to make strategic reductions that support our ability to serve students and fulfill our mission.” 

Jacobs wrote in her email to UNG faculty and staff that the new budget proposal is still in the planning phase, and no budgeting decisions are final. 

“This is still a planning process and will likely evolve,” she wrote. “I pledge to keep you informed as our plans progress.”