We have officially kicked off the budget process for the 2014-15 fiscal year. I met with Budget Goals and Plans, and they are re-working the official request form to make it more user-friendly and to incorporate links to the new Strategic Plan. The new form should be available shortly. We will be tweaking the process a little this year, separating one-time funding requests from recurring requests. At this time, we are asking only for the requests for recurring funding. The one-time budget process will begin in the spring to better align with our ability to forecast reserve balances.
Last year we had 144 requests totaling nearly $8 million. We approved 28 requests (totaling about $1.2 million) in recurring funding and 12 requests (totaling about $900,000) in one-time funds. The list of requests (funded and not-funded) may be found on my.newpaltz.edu in the Budget Information Center under the Faculty/Staff Services tab.
As we look forward to fiscal year 2014-15, we hope to fine-tune the budget request process. The Provost, Deans and I discussed how to scale expectations to available resources, which at first blush appear to be far more modest than the past two years. The primary reason for this projection is collective bargaining increases (currently estimated at $1.2 million). While the Governor’s Office has agreed to provide SUNY with “maintenance of effort” funding, they have made it clear that this does not include funding contractual salary increases. Therefore the campus must use part of its new tuition revenue to cover these increases. Additionally, the campus has seen a decline in our enrollment for the fall 2013 semester. While we met our incoming freshman and transfer targets, our attrition rates have increased, primarily through an increase in our graduation rates. However, we continue to see a decline at the graduate level. Since tuition revenue accounts for 75% of our total operating budget, we must temper our targets accordingly or we run the risk of running severe deficits in 2014-15.
As a result, initial projections for 2014-15 show only minimal funding for new initiatives if enrollment numbers hold. If enrollment continues to decline, we will likely have no new revenue to invest.
You may be asking, “If we have no funds to invest, then isn’t this process just a waste of valuable time?” The answer to that question is no. In any circumstance, this process has value because it keeps the critical needs of the campus in the forefront and enables Cabinet to move swiftly if/when funding becomes available. (I learned last week that System Administration has made collective bargaining part of its request to the Division of Budget. Should this funding come through, this would definitely paint a rosier picture for our investment process…but it’s too soon to tell whether this is likely to happen or not.)
The 2014-15 budget process timeline is available on my.newpaltz.edu in the Budget Information Center under the Faculty/Staff Services tab, along with the entire request list from last year. The Deans and Vice Presidents would like you to look at recurring requests that were not funded last year and evaluate whether or not you would like to put the proposal forward again for consideration. At the same time, we ask that you re-tool the request to link it to the Strategic Plan.
The President and I will hold a budget forum on Monday, December 2, from 10:30 a.m. to noon in the Student Union Building Multipurpose Room to discuss the process and answer any questions we can about the 2014-15 budget.
Vice President for Administration and Finance