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Reports: Trudeau cutting support staff, scientists

The Trudeau Institute in Saranac Lake is facing a 25 percent decline in revenue for research programming and must cut support staff and scientists to deal with the loss.

That's according to a report in Tuesday's Adirondack Daily Enterprise citing emails sent to Trudeau faculty and staff.

The newspaper quotes emails describing Trudeau's "grim 2011 budget picture."

Just last month, Trudeau's Board of Trustees decided to remain in Saranac Lake following speculation the institute would leave as part of a long-term strategic plan. But that decision to stay in the Adirondacks doesn't change the fiscal outlook for the facility.

According to the Enterprise report, Trudeau's revenue loss is tied directly to the drying up of stimulus funds received two years ago through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

In 2009, Trudeau got $8.3 million in federal stimulus monies. Now, that money is gone. State and federal lawmakers who pleaded with Trudeau brass to stay in Saranac Lake also pledged monetary support for future research projects.

But according to the memos obtained by the Enterprise, federal grants won't have much of an effect on the institute's 2011 budget.

Dr. David Woodland reportedly told scientists and support staff that certain measures would need to be taken to weather this year's poor fiscal outlook, including less contributions to employee retirement plans, zero cost-of-living increases, and staffing cuts.

Democrat Bill Owens represents New York's 23rd Congressional District. When asked if federal dollars were available to stave off layoffs at Trudeau, Owens said 2011 doesn't look good.

"Well, I think realistically, that's going to be very difficult to do given the current situation we have with the federal budget, especially with increasing deficits," he said.

Owens did say he would look into the situation to see if monetary help was available - but he didn't make any promises.

"I certainly will talk to Senator (Charles) Schumer and Senator (Kirsten) Gillibrand to see if there is something we can help out with," he said. "But I do think, in the short term, it's somewhat unlikely that the federal government is going to be able to step in and do anything material here."

Woodland told the Enterprise that federal funding received in 2009 was used to continue research projects that otherwise would have ended.

Reports indicate that some staff has already been laid off, and the institute is planning service reductions.

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