Thursday, January 24, 2008

What is the ADMMR future if the merger is defeated?

The State Legislature’s proposed budget cut for ADMMR for the present fiscal year is 10% across the board. ADMMR Director Dr. Madan Singh testified to the Appropriations Committee on January 10 that this cut will force him to terminate 2 or 3 of their 7 state-funded staff immediately.

Another round of budget cuts is coming for FY09 to meet a state shortfall bigger than the current one. What does this portend for a small agency with huge fixed costs? A big problem for ADMMR is that nearly half of their state funding goes to pay rent on the museum building that houses them and that is not going down.

State budget cuts disproportionately hurt ADMMR because they rely on state general funds for 7 of their 8 positions and all of their rent. The agency once had as many as 14 staff members and is no longer able to provide many of the services and resources they did before because of repeated budget cuts.

The alternative to merging ADMMR and AZGS is not simply maintaining the status quo; it’s a question of whether the agency will be able to survive at all without partnering with a larger and more diversely funded agency. A merger with AZGS would bring ADMMR longer term financial stability and the potential to actually grow rather than be constantly battling just to stay alive.

Conversely, the AZGS budget grew by about 50% in FY07 and our staff increased 65%. We opened our first-ever branch office in Phoenix and now have 5 geologists based there. Our funding-base diversified last year with at least 6 new funding sources and new funded projects continue to come in. Less than half our revenues now come from the state general fund, leaving us much less vulnerable to the vagaries of the state budget.

Bringing ADMMR into the Survey will offer opportunities to pursue enhanced revenue streams for their programs through external grants and contracts, directed investment, corporate sponsorship and underwriting, fund-raising, expanded community involvement, and philanthropic and private support.

Wishing that the State Legislature will come to the rescue with new monies for ADMMR has not worked in the past and seems unrealistic in the current economic environment.

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