Register News Writer
Eastern Kentucky University’s board of regents passed an operating budget of about $332 million for the 2013-2014 fiscal year Friday afternoon, up about 0.4 percent from the previous year.
The budget included $19.7 million identified by the strategic budget reallocation task force.
The board directed the task force to try to free up 10 percent of the total budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Overall, the reallocations total $19.7 million, roughly 8 percent of the university’s total budget. The money will be collected to provide a flexible budget when Michael Benson takes over as university president.
To help achieve the more than $19 million reallocation, the board earlier this year approved a voluntary staff buyout, which 180 staff members and 16 faculty opted to take.
To raise revenue, the committee recommended charging faculty and staff for parking passes, as well as raising the cost of student passes.
Traditionally, EKU faculty and staff were given free parking in designated lots. As part of the new budget, faculty and staff will have to pay $60 for parking passes. The price of student parking passes, formerly $30, also was raised to $60.
Amy Thieme, faculty regent, said she disagreed with using faculty and staff as a revenue source and proposed an amendment to remove it from the budget.
“It’s more about what the fee represents than it being a hardship,” Thieme said of the fee.
She said the culture of the university has become very fragile, and she didn't want the fee to be “the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”
Craig Turner, board chair, said he considered the charge a convenience fee because there are general parking lots on campus where faculty and staff may park for free. The general lots are near the outer edges of the campus. Most are located across the Eastern Bypass, making the walk farther than parking in a dedicated employee lot. The lots are served by a campus shuttle bus.
Board secretary and staff regent Steven Fulkerson supported Thieme by voting in favor of her proposed amendment, but the rest of the board voted against it and it failed. Thieme was then the only dissenting vote for passing the proposed budget.
The board also approved a 2.95-percent increase in undergraduate tuition, as well as a 5-percent raise in residence hall rates and an increase of 3 percent, on average, for meal plan rates.
The changes recommended by the reallocation committee also will affect families of Model Laboratory School students. Enrollment fees at the school will increase $500, a change which the regents approved at their April 29 meeting.
In other business, the board:
• Approved new language for the Colonel Connection Program. The program now allows student in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) to state their intentions of transferring to EKU when they first enroll. The students will be added to the EKU catalog before their transfer to make their transition easier.
• Granted regent emeritus honors to Gary Abney, who spent 14 years on the board, three as chair.
• Granted staff emeritus honors to Virginia Underwood, assistant to the board secretary, who will retire June 30.
Seth Littrell can be reached at slittrell@
richmondregister.com or at 624-6623.