Cuts to administrative staff are likely in the next three to five years, senior administrators told the News on Monday.

The cuts, administrators say, will be necessary to reduce the University’s substantial budget deficit. Although staff reductions are unlikely to occur in the coming year, they said, the administration plans to distribute budgetary targets for fiscal year 2014-’15 that will ask units across the University to cut costs “from personnel and non-personnel administrative budgets.

In an email sent to the entire faculty and staff shortly before 4 p.m., University President Peter Salovey and Provost Benjamin Polak provided the first of what they say will be a annual series of budget updates. The update begins a period in which faculty and staff can offer suggestions as to how to implement savings in various parts of the University.

“If we don’t deal with the deficit, we won’t be able to do the things we need to do to move forward,” Polak said. “It won’t be pain-free.”

Yale’s deficit, across the entire University, currently stands at $39 million — about 1.3 percent of the approximately $3 billion operating budget. Although the University could continue to run a deficit for about three years without depleting its reserve funds, senior administrators are focused on eliminating any red ink on Yale’s balance sheet.

Despite a strong return of 12.5 percent this past fiscal year, the endowment has not returned to its pre-recession level, the email said. Furthermore, Polak said that operating costs have risen by 5.8 percent within the past year, and without any action, the deficit will continue to expand.