Facilities services at Pickle Research Campus to be restructured


The Facilities Services division of the J.J. Pickle Research Campus is undergoing restructuring affecting 52 employees. This restructuring will allow the department to “improve efficiency” and fund a “contingency reserve” that could pay for merit-based pay increases.

This University department oversees landscaping, custodial services and maintenance at the main campus and the University’s satellite institutions, including the Pickle Research Campus and the Dell Pediatric Institute. These departments are now being consolidated into one department on the main campus, said Facilities Services director Mike Miller.

Seven of the employees affected are in managerial positions and will be laid off, but can apply to new positions being opened at the main campus, Miller said.

“We are trying to take care of the employees affected by offering 10 new positions that they can apply for, although they are still going to have to be qualified for the new positions,” Miller said.

Thirty-five custodial employees are also being brought to main campus from the Pickle Research Campus, Miller said, where the vacant positions will now be filled by SSC Service Contractors, an outside custodial company, to be paid a negotiated sum. Ten landscaping workers will remain at the Pickle Research Campus.

“We have an opportunity to improve efficiency by making these changes, bringing the main campus and the other areas closer together where they had been separated,” said Steven Kraal, senior associate vice president of the office of Campus Planning and Facilities Management. “We expect all of the changes to be completed over the summer by August 31.”

From reductions in labor costs amounting to $500,000, Facilities Services will be able to come much closer to meeting a “2 percent self-funded contingency reserve” of $548,600 mandated by the University, Kraal said.

The two percent contingency is part of the proposed 2012-2013 budget, and it is unclear at this moment how the reserves will be allocated, said Pat Clubb, vice president for University operations.

This reserve allows individual departments to cover for budget holes resulting from cuts by the Legislature or other circumstances, said Mary Knight, associate vice-president and budget director of the Budget Office.

Facilities Services spokesperson Laurie Lentz said their contingency reserve might “very possibly” pay for merit increases that could be one-time bonuses or payroll increases.
“The University is setting aside 2 percent of every budget to cover future cuts, or very possibly to pay for merit increases,” Lentz said. “We will not know for awhile yet whether its going to cover budget gaps or if will go to merit increases.”

Any employee who meets or exceeds job performance evaluations could qualify for the merit increase, Lentz said, although the center has not received instructions on how merit would be evaluated.

“We generally receive some kind of instruction during the year from the administration as to whether we will be doing out merit-based pay and how we will do merits, but we haven’t received that yet,” Lentz said.

Printed on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 as:Restructuring could find merit-based pay increases