LINCOLN, Neb. -- Some University of Nebraska system faculty members say a big drop in vehicle mileage reimbursement will be tough to weather.
The system intends to drop reimbursement when faculty members use their own car from about 50 cents per mile to 25 cents per mile beginning next month, citing challenges with the state budget.
System extension educators and faculty members in rural settings said the decision is especially burdensome for them because they drive long distances to work as well as to programs, meetings and events.
The drop is “going to be detrimental, not only personally to them but for the programming,” said Kim Bearnes, president of the Nebraska Cooperative Extension Association, an organization that supports the system’s research-based education.
Extension educators are typically faculty members with the university system. They serve farmers and ranchers with recent research findings. Others offer career education, 4-H supervision, college preparation, parenting, nutrition, urban gardening and other programs.
“I don’t know of anyone who’s been pleased by it,” said Charles Shapiro, agronomy professor and extension specialist at the Northeast Research and Extension Center.
System President Hank Bounds said reducing mileage reimbursement is one of many ways to deal with a $49 million budget gap caused by state funding problems and rising costs. System officials hope to save about $550,000 a year with the drop.
A system memo says it will “work with the employee to obtain necessary transportation.”
System spokeswoman Melissa Lee said operational cuts are preferable because university officials want to protect the affordability and quality of the university system.
The system has campuses in Omaha, Lincoln, Kearney and Curtis, and extension offices in more than 80 county offices around the state.