Wisconsin Geospatial News

Reduction to State Cartographer’s Office budget anticipated

With all of the media coverage of the $250 million cut to the UW System in the state’s latest biennial budget, it should come as no surprise to read that our office has been asked to take a cut in funding. 

The State Cartographer’s Office (SCO) is a statutorily-enabled special program within the University of Wisconsin. Administratively we sit in the Department of Geography, in the College of Letters & Science, at UW-Madison. The SCO receives an annual base budget allocation from the College for personnel, student assistants, and operating expenses, with some additional financial support from the Division of Continuing Studies for travel. Grants and contracts make up the remainder of our funding.

Currently the majority of our annual budget allocation supports our permanent staff (4.5 FTEs). We also use the funds to support a few part-time student assistants and most of our operating expenses (travel, phone lines, computers, office supplies, and so on).

We anticipate that we will be facing a permanent reduction of approximately 8%, phased in over the next two fiscal years. An 8% cut equates to a reduction of almost $28,000 per year. Given that our entire budget for operating expenses is only about $30,000 per year, we will need to significantly curtail spending to allow us to keep operating on a daily basis, reduce student staffing, and continue to find ways to augment our base allocation with grant and contract support.

The office has faced budget cuts in the past, but this one is particularly challenging as there are no implementation options that won’t seriously impact our operations. It seems likely that travel and outreach efforts will have to be significantly reduced, and we will need to devote more staff time to functions currently handled by our students. A reduction in student assistants will also hurt our service-learning efforts. 

We are currently assessing how we might implement such cuts to minimize the impact on our services. We will provide more details as they become available.