March 11, 2010

Hoffman responds to council's budget concerns

by Erin Rosacker

Executive vice president and provost Elizabeth Hoffman's update on budget planning received a lot of attention at the March 4 Professional and Scientific Council meeting.

Open forum insights

During a noon forum preceding the council meeting, associate director of human resource services Mike Otis provided an update on implementation of a new P&S compensation structure. The proposed structure, featuring 12 pay grades instead of the current 10, is set to be implemented on July 1.

The cost to implement the new structure -- that is, to raise the salaries of those employees whose new slotting creates a discrepancy between their current salary and the minimum salary in their new pay grade -- is about $78,000, for which there are central funds.

Council members learned:

  • If it's approved, the $10.8 million FY10 supplemental state appropriation to ISU's general fund will be used for bridging (salaries, for example), much like ISU used its stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
  • ISU probably will see only $4 million of that amount restored to its FY11 budget; the balance likely is going to Iowa's community colleges
  • The planning teams appointed to review cross-unit programs and functions have submitted their reports to Hoffman's office
  • The FY12 proposed budget includes a 4.4 percent salary increase for employees

New compensation structure

Associate vice president for human resource services Carla Espinoza said the slotting of positions in the new P&S compensation structure still is being ironed out.

"The structure is OK, but the positions are being discussed to avoid any hiccups," she said.

She said employees should see information on the new structure by April 1. HRS is developing an information tool in AccessPlus that P&S employees will use to learn more about their own slotting in the new structure.

RIO2 update

Espinoza said ISU will ask the state Board of Regents to extend the application deadline for its retirement incentive option (RIO2) to June 1. She reported that 49 applications -- 23 merit, 16 P&S and 10 faculty -- have been approved and 10 have been denied.

In response to a question about the low number of applicants, Espinoza said that some employees who met the criteria for early retirement had voiced "health care uncertainty" and a feeling that the markets were "starting to turn." Brenda Behling, assistant to the executive vice president and provost, said they've found that many eligible employees need their salaries, not just medical coverage.

"We're not good savers," Behling said. "Not many have nest eggs in addition to their TIAA-CREF accounts."

Other business

The policies and procedures committee introduced a resolution in support of a P&S compensation and salary structure draft policy. The draft combines three current P&S policies -- salary increases, salary structure and starting rate of pay -- into one. Campus feedback on the draft policy will be accepted online or by e-mail through April 2. Council members will vote on the resolution next month.