By Kerry Dawson
The Arboretum has suffered a major blow from this year’s university-wide budget cuts. The Arboretum’s situation is particularly difficult because we have a low discretionary budget. Discretionary funds are those not tied up by salaries. We depend on these for our operating expenses. Our budget cut this year is actually more than our entire discretionary budget. We are faced with the possibility of laying off or cutting back our staff, but any reduction in staff would greatly hinder our work. We are so minimally funded for staff that we have only one person in each essential classification: one superintendent, one nursery manager, one half-time curator, one half-time program coordinator, and one administrative manager. We are proud that these staff people have succeeded in bringing in outside funding almost equal to the amount allocated to us by the University.
The good news is that with the help of the Friends of the Davis Arboretum, we can make it through the year. In anticipation of budget cuts, the Arboretum staff and the Friends were very conservative in spending last year’s income from the Friends’ organization. Expenditures in 1989-90 were 30% lower than what was originally budgeted. We will use these savings to help cover the expenses normally met by state discretionary funds.
This year (1990-91) the Friends' budget will continue to support the Friends' activities as well as general Arboretum expenses, some nursery expenses, printing costs, wages for student workers, and the Friends' revolving savings fund. With the budget cut and consequent greater demands on Friends' budget, it will be almost impossible to save 30% again this year. We hope that any budget cuts next year will not be as severe as this year's, and that the University will require a smaller cut from the Arboretum in the future in consideration of its low discretionary funding and minimal staff.