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DSU faces 16 percent budget cut

Dickinson State University faces a 16 percent budget reduction in the 2019-21 biennium. (Kayla Henson / The Dickinson Press)

Dickinson State University faces a 16% reduction in total funding for the 2019-21 biennium, but it's less of a cut than it faced last biennium. Thomas Mitzel, president of DSU, addressed the budget with university staff in a forum Tuesday.

DSU's total funding has been reduced $3.8 million from last biennium, from $23,941,469 to $20,143,063. $2 million of last biennium's funding came from the university's reserve funds. Just over $4 million came from one-time funding.

In the 2017-19 biennium, DSU took a 24% reduction in total funding. Mitzel noted that when he started at the university, he helped create a four-year plan to reach budget sustainability.

"Under extremely difficult circumstances, we came through nicely," he said. "However, this is still not as sustainable as we need to be, and that does not surprise me. I did not expect that we would become fully sustainable in two years. We could not have done that without losing programs, without losing a large chunk of what is DSU. We cannot just cut our way out of this problem."

Still, to help balance the budget, DSU must cut costs where possible.

"We have at this point identified $853,000 in savings (per year) that can be implemented almost immediately. I do not want to get into the details of those right now. I can say that it will not affect any overall programming," Mitzel said.

That $853,000 per year is being taken out of salary and fringe benefits by not filling current or new positions. The projected budget lists another potential $400,000 in salary and fringe cuts.

The university also plans to use up to $3 million of its $4.9 million reserves to help balance the budget.

Even with those cuts, DSU would still be in the red $444,000, though Mitzel said he believes they can still find enough cuts to balance the budget.

"We want to put together a finance committee of people across the campus, work with our VPFA (vice president of finance and administration), work with our cabinet, to help us identify areas that you see as too high-priority to touch, where you think could have some reorganization, where you think we should be looking," he said.

Included in its total funding, the Legislature granted DSU $750,000 for its Theodore Roosevelt Digital Center, $4 million to renovate Pulver Hall and $1 million in one-time innovation funds.

Employees will receive a 2% raise with a set minimum at $120 per month and a set maximum of $250 per month in 2019 and a merit-based 2.5 percent raise in 2020.