Budget Updates/Planning

Budgets are another topic where a bit of ambiguity remains. The university, the college, and OSU Extension are still awaiting more clarity about how COVID-19 will affect the federal, state, and local funding. The Governor has mentioned a 20% cut across all agencies. We do not yet know how that will directly impact us at OSU and, in particular, OSU Extension. Having said that, we are working diligently at each level of the university, college, and OSU Extension to consider various approaches and scenarios for preparing for any reductions to budgets. I am sitting on the college budget committee exploring these considerations as we await further input and clarity from the university and from the state. I can assure you that we have excellent leadership and support in gaining a comprehensive understanding of the various resources available as we navigate through budget decisions. 

We have begun to see some county administrators (16 counties so far) communicating their concerns about their county budget situation and have indicated that they are proactively planning for anticipated cuts across the system in their counties. They have reached out to the county Extension offices in these counties, as well as the other agencies they fund, and have asked for some revised budgets as commissioners work hard to address anticipated fiscal constraints due to the COVID-19 crisis. Again, we are working closely with these county Extension offices to look deeply into their budgets and have been able to develop plans for addressing these reductions should they actually be implemented. So far, only one county has formally made a reduction to an Extension FY20 budget due to COVID-19, though more are anticipated. Each of the revised budgets up to this point have not required reductions in hours or staff. We have been quite successful in maintaining the required three-month carryforward to cover just such situations. We are also recognizing savings in travel and office expenses while working virtually. Finally, you have all done a great job of diversifying your funding portfolios to include fees for service, grants, and fundraising. These strategies will continue to be useful in the future. If you receive a budget revision request or want to proactively plan for various reduction scenarios, please reach out to Jeff McCutcheon, Jesse Buxton, or me so we can look at real data to inform planning. Knowledge is power. 

Obviously, some of the federal relief packages, some re-openings of Ohio businesses, and other factors will impact budget projections. We are likely to know more over the next few weeks and months and we will definitely keep you informed as more information becomes available. I would just remind you to be diligent in your use of funds and expenditures, think about what is really necessary right now, and know that our ultimate goal is to keep our people employed, our programs intact, and our communities safe and healthy.