Tag Archives: finance

Snow 1-1

Polar vortex season proves costly for Physical Plant

By Olivia Krauth–

As winter ends, the university’s physical plant is facing a serious financial hit from the treacherous winter.  Some estimate snow removal alone could balloon to four or five times more  spent in years past.

Larry Detherage, associate vice president for facilities, estimates that they have spent around $230,000 on snow removal. The figure includes salt, workers, equipment maintenance and a stand-by contractor in case the weather requires heavy equipment.

“This has been a bad year,” said Detherage.

 

Money, money, money

Physical plant does not budget for snow removal. Instead, it takes money out of its general $27.5 million annual budget.

According to Melissa Shuter, chief of staff for the office of business affairs, the budget comes from a “general fund” of about $496.5 million. Student tuition makes up 55 percent of the fund, with the remaining 45 percent coming from other sources.

Detherage is unsure how the increased amount spent on snow will ultimately impact his budget for the remainder of the fiscal year.

“We’re probably going to ask for some budget relief because of this,” said Detherage. “Our budget situation the way it is, the overall budget situation, I may not get it, so something will get cut back, but what that is, I don’t know at this point.”

Despite the increased amount of snow and ice removal this semester, the department has not hired any temporary workers, instead having regular workers work overtime to meet demands.

“Guy and gals are working long hours on both campuses,” said Aaron Boggs, assistant director of physical plant maintenance for the Belknap and Shelby campuses. “Some of our salaried people put in long shifts to make sure that we manage the hourly crews as best as we can during the events.”

While physical plant had to pay for many aspects of the snow removal process, it could have been much more. While several cities had difficulties with a high demand on salt and rising salt prices, U of L did not have as much trouble.

“The entire nation is suffering from a salt shortage, and it’s a mined product out of the ground, so you can only mine so much at a time,” said Boggs.

“Everybody is using a lot of salt. We have a quota every year that our salt company gives us, and once we use that quota, we usually don’t have a lot of other options to go to. This year we stockpiled plenty of salt early on, and we still have plenty of salt on hand to take care of many more storms here.”

 

Preparing for the storm

“A lot of people think it is just putting a shovel on the ground and plowing,” said Boggs. “There is a little more science going into it.” U of L’s preparations for brutal winter weather start days prior to the storm.

“We are constantly monitoring the weather to try to figure what it’s going to do. Is it going to snow at seven o’clock or 10 o’clock? We try to monitor that,” said Boggs. He explained that they coordinate with other city authorities, including JCPS, to decide the best course of action.

“We’re in this big email stream together, talking days in advance of the storm. We try to take some lead from them, they have been on it, they’ve been watching it, they have time to dedicate to it much more than us,” said Boggs.

Three to four days out, Boggs begins to work with his counterpart at the Health Sciences campus, Glen Todd, planning pretreatments and adjusting plans due to rain.

“We typically try to coordinate operations so whatever I’m doing, Glen is doing and vice versa so we can build some consistency in our operations,” said Boggs.

“We call the staff in whenever we feel like it is time to start deicing and pushing snow,” said Boggs. The grounds workers then begin to plow sidewalks and parking lots, as well as lay down salt chosen based on the temperatures and weather conditions.

 

The people behind it

Those responsible for snow and ice removal are the grounds workers at each campus. Belknap has 21 grounds workers when fully staffed, and the Health Sciences campus has three, with five or six people who volunteer to help when needed as well as a foreman. In some cases, additional help is needed.

“When we get three or four inches, like we did in this last storm, we have a contractor who we can put on standby,” said Boggs. “We have always got them available in case it gets too much for us to deal with.”

Detherage also noted that building custodians are responsible for clearing building entrances out 25 feet.

“Yeah, they’re a big part of the team,” said Todd on the custodians.

For the grounds workers, the key this season was to remain flexible and available. “I think one of the main things is remain flexible because it’s the weather,” said Todd with a laugh.

Provost Shirley Willihnganz described some of the workers’ times in a February email to U of L employees, referring to their efforts as “simply heroic.”

“Some of them actually have spent the night on cots in our steam and chill water plant because we weren’t sure they could get back to campus to begin clearing snow and ice at 4 a.m.,” wrote Willihnganz.

“People sometimes forget that they have to get out on the road and figure out a way to get here,” said Detherage. “They’re coming in at times when the roads have not been plowed or salted.”

“A lot of them will come in in advance because they know it’s coming,” said Boggs.

Boggs also spoke highly of all workers that helped keep campus clear in the face of bitter single-digit temperatures and heavy snow and ice.

“Our men and women who are charged with snow removal really take it personally,” said Boggs. “We take it personally when people fall and get hurt. We don’t want to see that.”

Photo by Sasha Perez / The Louisville Cardinal.

Editorial: U of L Foundation needs oversight

The U of L Foundation has been responsible for financially sustaining a vast number of programs, departments and scholarships for the university. Most of the university’s funding, $141.8 million, comes from the foundation and its fundraising has made U of L a greater force in the Louisville community. Its importance to our school’s prosperity and growth is without argument.
When a private foundation, governed by a tiny number of members, assumes an ever-growing control over the interests of a public institution, it is the responsibility of an independent citizen press to carefully scrutinize the actions and characteristics of such a group. It is incumbent upon this newspaper to produce an examination of the U of L Foundation to the best of our ability, and in doing so, question the appropriateness of this group’s influence over U of L.
The U of L Foundation, historically resistant to transparency, should welcome this scrutiny and examination. If nothing else, this paper’s critical analysis is the fruit of a productive university education. There is something else, though: students, faculty, tax payers and the public all require a vast amount of information from the U of L Foundation to understand the scope of its influence and determine whether its decisions are in the best interests of students.
With so much at stake, the U of L Foundation is also alarmingly without any sort of system of checks and balances. As students, it’s our right to know how and for what reasons our school’s money is being used. Without some regulatory body or entity overseeing the Foundation’s activities, we can’t be sure they are being held accountable. The issue of a public university receiving more private than state funds is also something that must be carefully monitored. We must be certain that what happens at U of L is in the public interest and in the interest of Kentucky and not dictated by some outside private group or institution. Add in that some of these funds are unrestricted (meaning that they can be spent in any way the Foundation Board of Overseers sees fit) and it isn’t difficult to see that the system is at least in need of some oversight.
There has been outcry by public entities, student organizations and concerned faculty regarding the foundations lack of open communication about their plans and intentions for the university’s funds. The biggest question that concerns this newspaper is this: when will the foundation heed those calls, and respond to those voices?

opinion@louisvillecardinal.com
opinion@louisvillecardinal.com

House of Representatives

Students narrowly avoid additional debt: interest rates remain low

By Rae Hodge–

On Friday, Congress passed legislation preventing student loan interest rates from doubling on July 1. Rates on subsidized Stafford loans will remain at 3.4 percent for an additional year.

The $6 billion cost of keeping rates at 3.4 percent was fully paid for through a combination of pension fund reforms and by limiting Stafford loan eligibility to 6 years. Without the passage of the legislation, the interest rate hike would have resulted in an increase in $1,000 of debt for every year of school for more than 7.4 million low- and middle-income college students.

“Students already face unprecedented student loan debt and adding an additional $1,000 more would not only crunch individual borrowers, but would have further weighed down the recovering economy. We applaud Congress for coming together to pass this much-needed legislation,” said  Rich Williams, U.S.  Public Interest Research Group Higher Education Advocate.

The House of Representatives passed the legislation with a bi-partisan vote of 373-52, while the Senate passed the bill with a 74-19 vote. The student loan provisions were included in House Resolution 4348.

Graduate students are still expected lose their eligibility for subsidized Stafford loans under the Budget Control Act of 2011.

photo courtesy of House.gov

President James Ramsey

President Ramsey announces layoffs at U of L

 

 

by Rae Hodge–

University of Louisville President James Ramsey has announced the coming layoff of 10 to 15 employees of the university, citing a 6.4 percent cut in state-wide higher education funding as the cause. Ramsey says the 6.4 percent cuts are equal to a $9.7 million dollar loss for the school.

Ramsey says that individual department heads will be making the decision about who will leave, and said that, ”We’ve made the decision that we’ll do everything we can to minimize layoffs and jobs loss, but it’s tough.”

This announcement follows on the heels of a decision by the University of Louisville Athletic Association to approve the largest athletic budget in the schools history at $71.5 million, which some university students and Louisville residents have publicly denounced in light of recent tuition increases.

The ULAA also voted to contribute $2 million in athletic endowment money for university-wide staff raises.

 

gearup

Grant program prepares students for college

By James El-Mallakh–

If you ask a freshman in high school what year he or she will graduate, one would answer 2016. But according to Kim Millard the answer is 2020, which is the year that student will graduate from college.

“We’re providing services for this first class that we’ve called the class of 2021, which is the year they’re graduating college,” said Kim Millard, the Communications and Outreach Coordinator for the GEAR UP Kentucky program, when referring to a class of eighth grade students.

GEAR UP stands for ‘Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs.’ Part of the mission of GEAR UP is to create a “college-going culture” and increase the number of secondary education students that enroll in college. Beyond the re-naming of a group of underclassmen, the GEAR UP program does this in several ways.

Starting at the seventh grade level going all the way to the first year of college, students are prepared for going to college through academic advising, campus tours and finding the scholarship application process. There is also a parental component to the program which seeks to increase parents’ participation in their child’s education.

“I think it helped me tremendously,” said Nandi Thomas, a member of one of the GEAR UP classes and currently a biology major at U of L. Thomas says the GEAR UP office at her high school in Covington, KY was, “a place for me to just go and talk to them if I had problems with grades at school or anything that would hinder my performance.”

Thomas says that she worked consistently with one counselor throughout her time in high school. During a trip to U of L’s campus, Thomas was able to speak to faculty in the biology department and she decided that U of L was the best choice for her, “there’s so much nature here and I was looking for that when picking a school.”

Thomas also notes that the GEAR UP program at her high school was mostly used at the behest of the students rather than of GEAR UP counselors. “[In] our high school, I wouldn’t say a lot of people used it but a good number of my graduating class used it.”

The GEAR UP program measures its success through students’ test scores on tests like the EXPLORE, PLAN, and ACT tests as well as college and high school graduation rates. According to a written statement from Program Coordinator for GEAR UP, Mark Wiljanen, “students at GEAR UP schools were consistently posting greater gains on test scores than the state average – a 31.9 percent improvement in Reading scores, for example, compared with a state average improvement of 23.8 percent in Reading.”

GEAR UP also actively targets families below the poverty line, “in one of the rural [GEAR UP Kentucky II] high schools, 85 percent of the students came from impoverished families,” said Wiljanen in a statement. GEAR UP serves 29 schools across 21 Kentucky counties.

GEAR UP is funded by the US department of education. The department awards competitively earned six-year grants to states to increase college enrollment. Kentucky was recently awarded a third grant which will fund the program for another six years.

Thomas describes that two or three months into her first semester at U of L, “Ms. Lindy, who is our GEAR UP coordinator at our high school, she came down to visit me and four other girls that came down to Louisville as well to check up on us and things like that.”

“That really shows there was a bond and it wasn’t like she helped me because she had to, but it was because she wanted to see me personally succeed in life.”

jelmallakh@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo courtesy GEAR UP KYgr

hand

How to ball on a budget

By Michael Baldwin–

College can get expensive; tuition, meal plan and book are going to leave your bank account empty. With all these expenses how is one able to afford anything else? This article is here to ease the vice grip on your wallet. These are a few ways to be a baller on a budget.

Goodwill Hunting

No I’m not talking about that movie with Matt Damon. If what they say is true, and vintage is in, then Goodwill is a designer boutique. Second hand/thrift stores, like Goodwill, are filled with clothes that people have donated for various reasons. It may take some time, so search through the racks of apparel, but be very patient and diligent while looking as to not pass up a hidden gem. Shirts and pants cost only a few dollars. With most things in the store being under $5, this store is a must visit. Fashionable and frugal.

Share Netflix

Netflix is a great site to find all types of movies and television shows. Now with apps for phones and tablets, Netflixs can go anywhere with you. With a price tag set at $7.99 a month it’s affordable for one person, but if you and a roommate or a buddy get an account and share the password and payment it will be dirt cheap. With it being an online service the person you share it with doesn’t even need to be at the same school or country as you.

Cook

In college those dollar menus may look more like your daily food pyrmid than a menu, but resist the urge because this a trap to snare your hard earned singles. You can get more bang for your buck by buying things to cook. Pasta is a fan favorite to those trying to save money. For the same price as five double cheeseburgers, you could get enough food to feed you and 2 other people for the whole day. Some buddies and yourself could get some money and have a dinner party for cheap. Cooking for someone is also a bit romantic so perhaps this could even be used as a date idea.

Student ID

Your student ID isn’t just for accessing your meal plan, it can also get you a lot of things around the city. For example free transportation. The TARC allows students to ride for free. That’s right you can go anywhere in Louisville and southern Indiana with your student ID for free. One can also use it to get student discounts at certain places around campus and the city. If you’re not sure if someone has a student discount just ask them, the worst thing they are going to say is “no”. Some of these discounts can score you free drinks or 15 percent off your bill.

Free Stuff

Always be on the look out for the two best words in a college students life, no, not “class cancelled,” I’m talking about “Free Food.” These signs are everywhere the first couple weeks of college. Some group is always giving out free food, and not only is this a chance to get some free eats, you can also use this time to meet new people or perhaps, everndare I say it, learn something. At these events there sometimes are also free sunglasses, shirts or water bottles, so make sure to stock up.

Driving

With gas prices skyrocketing, its hard to save money while at the pump. However, there are several ways to save money when filling up, for example, Krogers has a reward system called fuel points. When you buy groceries you gain fuel points, and when you get enough fuel points you get discounts on gas. A quick and easy way to gain your points is to fill your prescription at their pharmacy; turn your illness into profit as each prescription filled there is worth 50 fuel points. Another way to save money is to make sure your tires are properly inflated. Many gas stations have the use of an air compressor for free, so find one and fill those tires up. Lastly, cut idling down to a minimum. If you have to wait longer than ten seconds somewhere turn off your car. This will save you a small fortune in gas. Not only that, it’ll help the environment which is also a plus.

Driving

You are paying to use the meal plan so you might as well utilize every dollar of it. Even though the things in the Cards Nest are ridiculously marked-up there are a few ways to save money while using your meal plan. When ordering a Papa Johns pizza from the SAC, opt for the carryout option, this will save you about two to three dollars every time you order a pizza. Not only will you save in delivery fee, most of the time they have special carryout sales, so make sure to ask about those. When going to pick up the pizza, take the Cardinal Shuttle (free) over to Thrust Theatre and walk (free) to the Papa Johns. Over the year you’ll accumulate enough savings to have at least one free pizza.

features@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo Illustration by Michael Baldwin/The Louisville Cardinal

moneycut

Editorial: Students get a raw deal with rising education costs, budget cuts

The recent unveiling of tuition increases paired with education budget cuts can be quite worrisome for students, and for young people looking to get the most out of college and plan for the future.

The University of Louisville has yet again raised student tuition. That’s understandable, given the growing demand for education, but it would be an easier pill to swallow if we could be assured that we are getting what we pay for.

With college degrees becoming more and more common, the saying that “a bachelor’s degree is the new high school diploma” has never been closer to truth. With a college degree costing more every day and carrying less weight, colleges and universities should be finding new ways to increase the value of education to keep up with the rising costs. But with the budget cuts thrown on top of tuition increases, it seems the gap between value and cost is spreading, with one going up and the other going down.

Mitt Romney’s education stance doesn’t exactly make students feel optimistic either. As a country, we should be investing in the future. With the economy in its current state, the future is an unclear site. It seems we should be doing as much as we can to ensure a bright future instead of an uncertain one. The future starts with education, and if we want great things for future generations, shrinking the Department of Education is not a promising solution.

We know that one defining characteristic of conservatives is the push for a smaller government and less government spending, but it seems there are plenty of places to trim before the education system must go to the chopping block. For some reason, our government feels the need to create tax burdens instead of tax payers, when in fact, the opposite would make more financial sense.

If the government would invest more in education, they would create taxpayers with higher paying jobs and in turn generate more tax revenue. But instead, we disperse tax funds that discourage ambition. We understand that many people need and benefit from welfare systems, and they shouldn’t be punished for the misuse by the abusers of the system. But a restructuring is in order; a structure that encourages ambition, personal growth and education, instead of one that suppresses it. Whether an abuser or not, it’s hard to go get a minimum wage job when sitting at home is financially more beneficial. This just means that the government will continue to pay these bills and never gain revenue from these investments. The system should work as a helping hand, not a crutch.

We simply feel that education is the basis of local, national and personal progression, and if the government feels the need to reorganize the system, education should be off limits, unless changes are going to be made for the betterment of it.

Read more:
-Ramsey runs the numbers on state cuts, 12-13 budget
-Tuition increase set for next academic year

opinion@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo/Flickr: ImagesofMoney

moneycut

Students, faculty and staff submit budget cutting ideas

By Caitlyn Crenshaw–

Almost 190 faculty, staff and students put on their thinking caps when the university asked for suggestions to save money in the upcoming operating budget with the cut of state appropriations totaling about $9.6 million. With the state cutting resources distributed to higher education, the university is not only planning for the next fiscal year, but years to come as well.

President Ramsey said, “Our faculty, staff and students have come up with some good suggestions.”

The university wants to “see which [ideas] we can do quickly and which ones will take longer to do,” said Mike Curtin, vice president for finance. With the cuts imminently approaching, the university is taking action now.

These ideas are not expected to be realized immediately. “If we can pull it off and make some things happen, there are some things we can implement before July 1; other things will take one or two years to do,” said Curtin.

The next step, according to Curtin, is to “present ideas to the [leadership team] with the pluses and minuses, and the timeline it will take to do it.” Each aspect of every suggestion is considered before further action or implementing a policy by the university leadership team consisting of President Ramsey and Provost Willinghanz.

Through the website, “eight people suggested the university implement employee furloughs or unpaid time off.” These furloughs varied in length of time. The university replied to these suggestions that furloughs “would save a significant amount of money. However, there are a number of challenges to utilizing this approach.”

Of the many ideas offered “one that came forward was to curtail certain cell phone uses throughout the campus,” said Curtin. From this suggestion provided by a member of the university community, the university is “looking at standardizing all of the cell phone contracts in the university,” said Curtin.

As the state budget cut anticipates future cuts to higher education, the university is preparing not only for the present, but for the future as well. “We are looking into many of the ideas they brought forth as we position ourselves for the future,” said Ramsey.

The university community of leaders and outside resources, such as a recently hired consultant, are taking multiple steps to save money where needed without cutting corners in students’ education. It is important to realize that the suggestions from faculty, staff and students “is just one prong in the multi prong approach,” said Curtin.

Some of the other most popular suggestions were conserving energy by closely monitoring heating and cooling, lighting and the use of appliances, early retirement options, cutting back on administrative pay, offering different employment packages to employees, centralizing a list of vendors for catering, coffee, cleaning chemicals, stockrooms items and eliminating the Physical Plant Department or outsourcing its operations.

ccrenshaw@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo/Flickr: ImagesofMoney

bikeparking

Editorial: Rising gas prices hit students at the pump

As you drive down Arthur Street on your way to campus, you’ll notice that gasoline has reached prices in excess of $3.70 per gallon and will likely soon hit $4.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the $20 bill in your pocket won’t take your car as far as it used to. A fill-up can cost anywhere from $40 – $80, depending on what kind of wheels you cruise around in.

And we aren’t all as forward thinking as Prius-owning hipsters. Yes, you were right – hybrid cars are probably a good idea. And you knew about them before they went mainstream, too.

But, since we don’t all drive gas-sipping hybrids, we’re going to have to deal with dishing out huge sums of cash at the pump.

As college students, money is already tight, and rising gas prices are an unwelcome sight when our wallets are light enough as it is.

Other than hitting up your hybrid-owning eco buddy for a ride, there are ways to ‘stick it to the man’ and beat the pump.

During the semester, if you live too far from campus to ride a bicycle, carpooling is always a financially savvy way get to school and possibly enjoy some nice conversation on the way, or catch some extra z’s if you’re fortunate enough to ride in the passenger’s seat.

Another perk that seems many university students may forget is that our student ID’s double as a TARC pass. Many of us ride the TARC back and forth to the stadium, but our ID’s will work anywhere in the city for a free ride on the public transportation system.

Although prices at the pump are on the rise, temperatures are as well, fortunately. For those of us that live on or near campus, walking or riding a bicycle around town can allow you to park your gas guzzler a little more often.
When the weather gets nice, a bike ride to Bardstown Road to visit all the trendy shops and restaurants can be a good way to enjoy the day without requiring a trip to the pump.

There are also bike racks downtown, so you should take avantage. Go check out the waterfront, the Science Center or any of the other super-cool places Louisville has to offer.

That’s another thing – during spring break, you don’t have to go far to have a good time. If you’re looking for something fun to do with your pals, consider a stay-cation. There’s plenty of fun in your own hometown.

The rising gas prices can be very frustrating, but it’s out of our control, and complaining won’t do anything. The best thing for us to do is accept the fact that we can’t do anything about it and decide to take action in order to control our depleting finances.

opinion@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo/Flickr: MoBikeFed

A Spotless Gas Pump

Running on empty: Spiking gas prices hit students hard

By Michelle Eigenheer–

A recent trend in gas prices has university students scrambling for pocket change and bursting into tears.

Last week, gas prices began to rise, leaving students with less-than-full tanks. Gasbuddy.com, a website that tracks gas prices through the United States and Canada, reported that on Feb. 21, 2012,  “Spot prices, a ‘base’ price that [gas] stations pay depending on their location,” had risen across the U.S. “[Spot prices] in Chicago, the market that determines prices in Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio, rose a whopping 20-cents per gallon,” said petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan on the website’s blog.

Essentially, this means that the entire region surrounding the University of Louisville has experienced a 20-cent or more price increase, per gallon of gas.

Students who live and work off-campus are greatly influenced by the ups and downs of the fuel industry.

When gas prices rise substantially within a short period of time, it throws a curveball at students who can›t afford to pay the extra $10 or $20 at the pump.

“I’ve had to miss a couple of days because I couldnt afford the gas to get to campus. I even considered not going back this semester to save the money I’d spend on gas for rent and bills,” said Laura Smith, a freshman exercise science major.

Not only are gas prices detrimental to the lives of commuters, but also to people who go back to see their family on a regular basis. Driving anywhere from 30 to 100 miles, or even more, takes a lot of gas and college students can’t always afford this. This means that they end up staying at the university, or asking mom and dad to pay for their fuel.

According to AAA’s daily fuel gauge report, the national average cost of regular unleaded fuel on Sunday, Feb. 26 was $3.688 for a gallon. Gasbuddy.com puts the average in Louisville at $3.703 per gallon. With gas prices nearing $4 per gallon – a price tag that often sends people into a panic and sparks political criticism – college students may start to rethink the way they drive.

news@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo/Flickr: Orbin Zebest