University budget in unexpected surplus

Murray State is beginning the fiscal year 2014-15 with excess revenue of approximately $3.8 million in net assets, which included a $1.2 million shortfall in its operating fund.

Following extensive cuts and restructuring under former President Tim Miller last semester in order to diminish the University’s budget deficit, it was announced at the Board of Regents quarterly meeting last month that while the University has a surplus of money, these funds may not be spent freely. This also left $1.2 million to be recovered.

Don Robertson, vice president of Student Affairs, said when talking about a University’s multimillion dollar budget, a shortfall of $1.2 million is comparatively little.Screen shot 2014-09-18 at 2.21.02 PM

“To us a million dollars is significant, but not in the grand scheme of the whole University budget,” he said. “This amount can have an impact, but it’s still not as much as a person would think. My sense is that we are on much more solid footing now than we were.”

Robertson said he attributes Murray State’s favorable financial state to the leadership of Miller.

“Miller put into practice policies and procedures that have left us in a much better position than when he began his term,” Robertson said. “His goal was to make sure the budget was balanced and he did that.”

Jackie Dudley, vice president of Finance and Administration Services, said this shortfall was planned and foreseen by the Board of Regents and represents the cost of replacing Murray State’s electrical transformers, renovation projects to both Pogue and Waterfield libraries and deferred maintenance funds for facilities. Dudley said this shortfall will not hamper Murray State’s operating ability.

“Financially, we are pretty much where we were last year,” she said. “Our reserve balances are a little bit less, but that doesn’t put us in worse financial standing. The University is still very well off and we have reserves to last us approximately 140 days if something occurred and we didn’t have revenues coming in or new funds. ”

As Murray State’s surplus in funds have restricted use and are in the form of grants and endowments which can only be spent and used as stipulated, $1.2 million was extracted from Murray State’s reserve operating funds.

She said she does not expect the University to have to dip into its reserve funds again until possibly fiscal year 2016 to fund the building of the new Engineering and Physics Building. While this building is being funded by the state, the University is authorized to spend up to $5 million on the project if the money from the state does not cover the cost. The expectation is that these funds will be reimbursed to the University over a number of years from donor funds.

Dudley said it is not a common practice to utilize reserve funds in this way, but that she expects for this too to be balanced by the end of the fiscal year primarily through revenue gathered from tuition and being conservative on the expenditure side.

 

Story by Ben Manhanke, Staff writer