Five Budget Questions That Need To Be Answered
by Silence Dogood

From the MnSCU website, the “Projected Fund Balances” for SCSU for each fiscal year can be viewed. The following report was obtained for SCSU for FY14.

A similar document for SCSU for FY13 is shown below.

From the website for the Office of Finance and Administration, SCSU’s public budget for FY13 and FY14 can be viewed:

In reviewing these three documents, five questions come to mind. There are actually quite a few more than five but these five are critical to understanding the budget information or perhaps more properly misinformation presented.

Question 1 Why is there a discrepancy between the general fund budget for FY14 in the public budget ($146,116,203) and Fund Code 110 for the General Fund Projected Fund Balance ($126,672,764)? The difference between the two numbers is $19,443,439, which is a non-trivial amount of money.

Question 2 In the Projected Fund Balance for FY13, there is a projected balance for Customized Training (Fund Code 120) of $1,524,648. However, in the Projected Fund Balance for FY14, there is a Budget Amount Forward (Fund Code 120) of $10,020,330. Why is there a difference between the two numbers? The difference is $8,495,682, which again is a non-trivial amount.

Question 3 In FY13, did SCSU actually lose $1,573,973 on the bookstore (Fund Code 235) as indicated on the Projected Fund Balances? If so, that means the university lost almost $100 for each and every student on campus.

Question 4 The National Hockey and Event Center (Fund Code 216) shows a balance of $2,777,194 in FY13, and a Budget Amount Forward for FY14 of only $804,439. Where did the $1,972,755 generated in FY13 go?

Question 5 For the General Fund (Fund Code 110) for FY 13, it shows a Budget Amount Forward of $37,189,592 and a Projected Balance of $32,807,952. The difference appears to be a decline of $4,381,640. The public budget on the website for Finance and Administration shows a net gain for FY13 of $4,556,769. Was a there a sign error somewhere or did the budget actually reverse by a total of $9,938,409?

Please understand these questions are being raised by someone other than a CPA, whose only interest in having the best financial information available upon which to make decisions. Short of having accurate and clear financial information, it might be just as successful making decisions by flipping a coin. Let’s hope that those folks whose job it is to provide the financial information can admit that this information is quite confusing and perhaps even misleading. In my opinion, we can do better, much better!

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