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ENMU-R prepares for budget reductions

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Lisa Dunlap Photo Shawn Powell, ENMU-R president, seen during an April 2019 meeting.

Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell is preparing to reduce its operating budgets in response to the coronavirus emergency.

President Shawn Powell talked about expected budget adjustments at a Wednesday Community College Board teleconference.

At that same meeting, a new board member was chosen to fill the seat vacated by Eloise Blake, who resigned in March after 14 years on the board.

 

Budget revisions

Powell said the budget situation is not precisely known yet and would have to go through several approval processes, but ENMU-R is prepared to reduce its budget for the remainder of the current fiscal year, or for May and June, by about 10%, which would be about $200,000.

“There is going to be a reduction in allocation for this month and next month,” he said.

He said that a special session of the New Mexico Legislature is expected to occur for a day or two in mid-June to pass a new state budget.

A revised budget is needed to address the significant losses of revenues due to the coronavirus impacts as well as the severe recession in the state’s oil and gas industry.

The Consensus Revenue Estimating Group, which has representatives from several different state entities, has estimated that state revenue declines could be as high as $480 million for the remainder of the current fiscal year and anywhere from $1.78 billion to $2.4 billion for fiscal year 2021, which begins July 1.

Powell said that ENMU-R’s fiscal year 2021 budget could be reduced from 10% to 25%, depending on the Legislature’s decisions, as well as future decisions of the New Mexico Higher Education Department and the Community College Board. A 10% budget reduction would be about $1.3 million, while a 25% reduction would be about $3.25 million.

He explained that part of the college’s current response to the budget situation has been to freeze hiring, postpone the strategic planning process and require expenditures and travel to be approved by a vice president.

He also said that some students were eligible for emergency relief funding through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The ENMU system received $2.91 million for all three of its campuses. Powell said a portion will be allocated to ENMU-R students who qualify, with the amounts of grants based on their credit hours. Powell said the funds are intended to help students who had to leave student housing or who had qualifying expenses related to the change from in-person instruction to remote or online instruction.

New board appointment

Also during the meeting, the four current board members voted unanimously to appoint Tamaliah “Tammy” Lueras of Roswell to fill Blake’s unexpired term as a District 3 representative, which covers a western section of Roswell.

Lueras was one of several candidates for the position. Like Blake, who once led ENMU-R’s nursing and health science programs, Lueras was an ENMU-R nursing program director and faculty member from 1983 to 2017.

Prior to that, she worked as a nursing continuing education provider and the nursery department director for Eastern New Mexico Medical Center and as a surgical staff nurse and pediatric charge nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital.

She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from West Texas State University and a Master of Science degree in nursing from the University of Texas at El Paso.

The District 3 board term will expire in 2021, at which time county voters will elect someone for the seat.

Lueras said she was willing to serve when asked to consider nomination, but does not know at this point whether she will run for the position.

“I think it (ENMU-R) is an important asset,” she said, “and I want to see it continue to serve Roswell and the surrounding communities. If there is something that I can do as a former faculty member to help the college, I want to be able to do that.”

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.