By Shelby Brown–
Prepare to pay more for parking and university housing this fall as trustees seek even the most modest increases in revenue to plug the estimated $48 million shortfall first discovered in January. After looking over figures, the budget committee offered a more exact $41 million as the university’s deficit.
For the first time in six years, the university will increase its parking rates. Three members of U of L’s Board of Trustees were presented plans to hike permit prices in a budget workshop May 17.
The increase is projected to generate an additional $157,400 in revenue. The parking office plans to add more visitor parking parking and hike those rates as well.
Purple pass price will increase by two percent and green passes will increase by thirteen percent.
Trustees are also considering a three percent increase in housing for 2017-18 to cover an anticipated rise in operational costs.
Increases will affect traditional halls, Louisville Hall suites and University Tower Apartments. UTA Family Apartments and the Medical-Dental Apartments residents will pay higher monthly rates per unit. Resident Assistants will not be charged more.
The workshop, led by Interim Chief Financial Officer Susan Howarth, discussed U of L’s budget deficit. The proposed operating budget summary offers some solutions to close the gap for 2017-18.
Howarth presented the summary to Sandra Frazier, Brian Cromer and William Armstrong, saying tuition will not increase.
“We’re the only institution in the state that can say that,” Postel said. “We’re honoring that commitment.”
However, the summary suggests hikes to course and unit fees for the 2018 academic year. Students can expect to see possible additional or raised technology and application fees in the colleges to generate revenue.
“We are a tuition school,” Howarth said. “Tuition makes up 61 percent of our overall general fund revenue. So if we have a slight enrollment change, it impacts our general fund revenue significantly.”
Currently U of L is in a “hiring frost” and wants to increase enrollment . The 2016-17 fiscal year saw a decline of $12 million in tuition and fees.
“We’re losing students somewhere in the pipeline,” Howarth said. “Most evidence would suggest it’s usually between sophomore (and) junior or junior to senior. Most of it is financial. Students will stop out and go back to work to try and make enough money to come back to school.”
Interim chief operations officer Lee Smith said the university is looking into energy optimization.
“(We are) reducing the heating and cooling of buildings to when they’re being used,” Smith said.
Howarth said she felt optimistic about the university’s next steps. “Having reset the budget to actuals, it was a painful process but I think this puts us on a very sound financial footing going forward,” she said.
Postel agreed with Howarth. “We’ve been extremely conservative about things that we just don’t know about,” he said. “If something starts to drift, we can react and not deal with it six months later.”
Staff Trustee Will Armstrong also echoed the sentiments of optimism. “It’s a lot to take in,” he said.
Currently, the university is hoping there are no further state budget cuts in the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
But the meeting was not just about saving money and increasing revenue. KentuckyOne announced May 12 that it planned to sell off its Louisville assets, as reported by WDRB. Postel said the university could potentially acquire Jewish Hospital and the Frazier Rehabilitation Institute. Postel says the loss of those facilities could pose problems for U of L’s teaching mission at those hospitals.
Photo by Shelby Brown/ The Louisville Cardinal