Saturday, October 18, 2008

Budget cuts will devastate Virginia geological survey



The State Geologist of Virginia, Dr. Ed Erb, informed us yesterday that an anticipated shortfall in Virginia's state revenues for FY09 and FY10 will lead to laying off half the staff of the the Division of Geology and Mineral Resources (Virginia's geological survey) on January 1, 2009, along with termination of ongoing programs. [right, Virginia's mineral resources. Credit VA DGMR]

The impact of the recent cuts will not end with the initial layoffs. Several staff members who have survived the layoffs will be shifted from state funding to soft monies and reassigned to tasks in support of other Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy divisions. Remaining staff members are anticipating further cuts to the state budget and are looking for jobs elsewhere.

Virginia's geological survey, under one name or another, has operated since its inception in 1835. Ed noted that DGMR was hit proportionately harder than any other state organization.

Other state surveys are reporting cuts and curtailments, although none as severe as that in Virginia. AZGS took a 5% reduction to both last year' s and the current budget and expects to take another reduction of comparable size soon as state revenues shrink. The USGS along with many federal agencies are holding back expenditures in anticipation of 5-10% cuts.

Update: Callan Bentley who writes at NOVA Geoblog, added more details to what I heard:

The official revenue projections forecast a shortfall of $973.6 million for fiscal year 2009 and $1.54 billion for fiscal year 2010, or just over $2.5 billion for both years.

Here are some of the planned cuts for the Virginia DGMR:
  • 9 (out of a staff of 21) will be laid off
  • 1 staff member will be transferred to the Division of Oil and Gas
  • 4 staff members will be reassigned to support the Abandoned Mine Land project
  • DGMR will be left with a staff of 4 on state-funded positions (of which 3 are currently supervisory) and will not, in any substantive way, be able to serve the Commonwealth.

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