NMSU Regents to vote Monday on employee benefit cuts

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Hadley Hall

Rachel Valerio / University Communications

The meeting will be held Monday at noon in Conference Room 130 in Hadley Hall, the building shown here.

Members of the New Mexico State University Board of Regents are scheduled to vote on much-anticipated cuts to employee benefits Monday during a meeting that won’t be webcast and isn’t being held in the Regents’ normal meeting room.

Nonetheless, Conference Room 130 in Hadley Hall on the NMSU main campus, where the meeting will be held, can hold 30-40 people, according to university spokesman Justin Bannister. Public comments will be allowed before the vote, according to the meeting agenda.

That means NMSU employees and others will have an opportunity to show up and be heard.

The public meeting is scheduled to begin at noon, according to the official notice. The Regents had also planned to meet behind closed doors at 8 a.m. in room 251 in Domenici Hall, but cancelled that executive session on Sunday after concerns were raised that the lack of specificity about why they were meeting might violate the state’s Open Meetings Act.

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The Regents usually hold public meetings in a room in the Educational Services building that allows for webcasting. Video of most Regents meetings is archived online for later viewing.

The Regents have met in the Hadley Hall conference room a couple of other times in the past 12 months, Bannister said. Board of Regents Chair Debra Hicks decides where to hold meetings, Bannister said — and he didn’t know why Monday’s meeting is in Hadley Hall.

The Hadley Hall meeting room isn’t set up for webcasting, according to Bannister.

The looming employee benefit cuts are part of the university’s efforts to eliminate $10.7 million from its annual budget. That’s necessary because the state decreased funding for the university earlier this year and enrollment has fallen. The Regents rejected a proposed tuition increase to help cover the shortfall in April.

The university isn’t yet releasing details of the proposal that is up for a vote on Monday. Bannister said NMSU should release details Monday afternoon if the Regents approve the cuts.

The university’s administration has held meetings with employees to discuss proposed cuts and get feedback. Bannister said the proposal that will be voted on Monday shouldn’t come as a surprise.

The university has considered getting rid of the Employee Health Center, reducing administrative salaries, eliminating retiree health coverage, eliminating sick leave payouts, and cutting annual leave, NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers wrote in an April memo to employees. The university has set up a website with documents, archived video of town-hall meetings, and other information about the cuts being considered.

The vote on reducing employee benefits is on the consent agenda for Monday’s meeting, which means the Regents may approve the cuts without any discussion. A member of the Regents could ask to discuss the proposed cuts before a vote.

Cutting benefits isn’t the only high-profile item on Monday’s agenda. The Regents are also scheduled to vote on a proposal to require freshmen to live on campus, though there would be exemptions for some students.

This article has been updated to reflect the cancellation of the Regents’ closed session that had been scheduled for Monday.

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