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W&M imposes freeze on hiring
WILLIAMSBURG -- Local state agencies are preparing to take a 5% hit in the funds they get from the state government.
The College of William & Mary has imposed a temporary hiring freeze as it faces the area's heftiest cuts of $3 million. It could be much worse except that only 23%% of the college budget comes from the state.
"In higher education, the cuts run from 5 percent to 7 and a-half percent," said Sam Jones, vice president for finance. "We're at the upper level."
Because of a projected budget deficit of $600 million, Gov. Tim Kaine has ordered state agencies to ready the ax. All over town, officials are examining where to cut.
The college faces a Sept. 10 deadline to provide a list to Virginia's secretary of education. "It's difficult, because 78 percent of our costs are personnel related," Jones said. "We're already staffed up for the year, the students are already here."
He said the college has stopped hiring until the cuts are finalized. A longer hiring review process could be implemented to slow salary growth, he added.
Jones cautioned that the cuts may be more permanent than normally is the case with state budget cutbacks.
The governor has indicated that there may be cuts in base funding when the next biennial budget debuts.
"It's more than a one-time thing," Jones said. "That means we have to look at the whole campus, at what programs we offer."
As a result, the 23% state funding "will go down to about 20 percent after these cuts," he noted.
Thomas Nelson Community College president Charles Taylor said he will achieve 5% cuts by delaying hiring for some positions, cutting back on travel costs and developing other operational efficiencies.
He said the community college wouldn't have a hard freeze on hiring, but would "prioritize" hiring. "We don't want to compromise security or quality of instruction."
Unlike William & Mary, Thomas Nelson doesn't have a large endowment to fall back on. Fully half of the community college's budget comes from direct state support.
At the state agency that operates Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center. spokesman Debby Padgett said, "Discussions are under way" about the 5% mandates. We don't have any more information to share at this time."
City manager Jack Tuttle said he expected little impact. "In the past, when there have been cuts at the state level, it hasn't affected us much because there is so little pass-through funding," he said.
One program it might affect is the "599" money that localities with police departments receive from the state. A 5% cut in that program would cost the city about $25,000 and James City County nearly $100,000. York has a sheriff's department instead, so the 599 impact is nil.