Budget cut hits all departments

By Brian Slupski

The effects of the state budget recision is cutting into in every department at NIU.

The business and operations department, which handles everything from leaky roofs to clearing snow, has been under a hiring freeze all year.

The department’s vice president, James Harder, said there is a “continuing moratorium on hiring.” He said while some vacated positions have been filled, the department has been in a hiring freeze since fall semester.

A backlog of unfilled maintenance work orders is one of the consequences of the freeze. The lack of manpower has primarily affected buildings which receive appropriated funds.

“We tried to preserve the work force in the residence halls. Buildings which receive general revenue funds, basically the entire campus minus the residence halls, student center and athletic and recreation facilities, are really feeling the freeze,” Harder said.

“We did sacrifice some equipment funding. We had to forgo the replacement of some older equipment,” Harder said. “We had to come up with $238,248 for the recision.”

He said the department is prioritizing and trying to take care of the most pressing repairs first, like a leaking roof. The routine maintenance of buildings is most affected by the recision.

NIU Physical Plant Director John Gardner said building maintenance is being cut because of the lack of manpower. He said the general revenue buildings, which are about half the campus, have just two plumbers and two electricians besides the foreman.

Although there is a backlog of orders, Gardner said there is not much he can do. “We don’t have the money to pay anyone new.”

He said eventually more money will have to be appropriated to physical plant because the campus buildings are not getting any younger and repairs are an eventuality.

Gardner said he is “praying for as little snow as possible” this year because even a small snow storm can result in overtime the university can’t afford.

“(Snow) during the week wouldn’t be a problem. But a storm on the weekend forces us to call people in and this results in overtime,” Gardner said.