NIU plans to reduce spending

By Dawn Panka

Some NIU employees might have an extended Christmas break if President John La Tourette is successful in his plan to cut spending because of a feared recession.

At Wednesday’s University Council meeting, La Tourette announced the university will take “precautionary but prudent moves” to safeguard against the deteriorating revenue picture.

La Tourette said a tighter shutdown over the Christmas holiday is a way to generate savings. Although no particular action has been chosen for this period, the university will decide on what ways savings can be enhanced, he said.

One way to cut costs would be to extend the university holiday shutdown, which is currently 11 or 12 days, without imposing on existing programs, La Tourette said. The shutdown only would affect university employees, not students.

Although trimming heating bills would be a favorable solution, no plans are set on what buildings will be heated during the break because many need heat for animals or research projects, he said.

In other spending cuts, the university also will postpone hiring until Jan. 7, except for positions of an imperative nature, La Tourette said.

“These actions are being taken to reduce the impact of the recession if it occurs,” La Tourette said.

“The forecast for the Christmas season is very slow,” he said. Much of the state revenue comes from sales tax, which means it might not be sufficient to meet the expected budget, he said.

“There is an outside chance we might squeak through ‘91, because Illinois is always late on the recession effect,” La Tourette said.

The university is taking these precautionary measures now because the government might not make any budget decisions until the newly-elected governor Jim Edgar takes office in January, La Tourette said.

If the university waits until the new governor takes office, “it may be too late” to affect NIU budgeting, he said.