From a financially savvy reader:

I cannot believe that your EphBlog readers still believe that construction on a new library is going to begin next year. They don’t get it. The low hanging fruit of budget cutting cover the Fiscal Year starting in July 2009. The real bloodbath doesn’t start until July 2010.

Here are the operating budget numbers from the June 2004 and June 2008 financial statements:

June 2004: Operating Expense of $137,351,974 plus fin. aid discounts
of $18,543,227.
June 2008: Operating Expense of $176,523,523 plus fin. aid discounts
of $29,284,650.

I agree that these numbers highlight the magnitude of the problem. It is not just an issue of not hiring visiting professors or not hiring a new volleyball coach or canceling the Bolin Fellows program or postponing goo-goo green spending. The College will, eventually, need to do all those and more if it is to have any hope of avoiding lay-offs and maintaining financial aid.

The $30 million in operating expenses that the College added from 2004 to 2008 must be cut back. Every single penny. The first $10 million and cuts have been made, but that was the easy stuff. No more trips for dinner to Mezze with the students. Boo-hoo! The real carnage comes with the next $20 million.

Two quibbles, however: First, I think that there is a chance that the new library goes forward next year. After all, the College has, more or less, committed itself to that plan. It is too late (?) to stop the work. So, it might as well happen now, ideally with a major new donation picking up the $80 million tab. I would bet that unstarted projects, like Weston renovations, won’t go forward for years.

Second, I think/hope that we will get some blood sooner rather than later. The Ad Hoc Advisory Committee on Budget Priorities (call it AHACOBP, pronounced A-ha-Cob-P) is meeting for a reason. The 2010 budget (starting July 1, 2009) has yet to be approved by the Trustees. The financial markets have gotten much worse. With luck, the Trustees will force the College to make some hard choices now. The longer we wait, the worse the pain.

Print  •  Email