Incoming stimulus funds mitigate furlough days

Northern Arizona University’s fiscal year 2010 furlough plan has been finalized, and NAU faculty and staff face fewer days than originally considered.

Employees whose salaries are less than $40,000 a year are responsible for taking one day and those whose salaries are $40,000 or more are responsible for three days. Earlier in the year, NAU plans included employees whose salaries are $40,000 or more being responsible for up to seven days and employees whose salaries are less than $40,000 would be responsible for up to three days.

NAU President John Haeger finalized the plan Tuesday after Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said NAU would receive about $23.5 million from the federal stimulus monies. “We appreciate Governor Brewer’s leadership in securing the federal stimulus funds for Arizona,” Haeger said.

The president and other university officials have been carefully weighing the impact of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funds for months, with the goal of minimizing furloughs and layoffs as well as lessening the tuition surcharge, which was approved by the Arizona Board of Regents in April.

“Although some layoffs were unavoidable, we calculate that the federal stimulus funds allowed us to preserve more than 300 jobs in FY09 in areas related to instruction, academic support and student services,” Haeger said. “The university’s share of the state Fiscal Stabilization Fund means we will not have to endure more draconian cuts to our workforce or reduced programs and services for students.”

Without the determination that the stimulus dollars would be coming, NAU’s tuition surcharge would have been $1,975 instead of the average $422 of resident tuition and fees that was approved, he added.

Ernest Calderón, ABOR president and NAU alumnus, thanked the governor for her commitment to higher education. “She has stated numerous times that she will protect education, and she has,” Calderón said. “Her efforts to limit cuts to the universities’ funding, as well as apply for the federal stimulus monies to help mitigate the cuts we have sustained, are proof of her commitment.”

The mandatory furlough plan applies to regular benefit-eligible faculty, administrators, academic professionals, classified staff and service professionals. Some grant-funded employees, graduate assistants, postdoctoral scholars and employees on H1-B visas may be affected differently.

The NAU Human Resources web site contains details on the furlough plan as well as the Shared Work Program, which allows full-time employees to apply for partial unemployment benefits to offset furloughs.