Here are responses to frequently asked questions about how, when and why Buffalo State will rebalance its budget:
Budget rebalancing means making reallocations: adjusting budgeted amounts, or associated program expenditures, in relation to the current budget. Moving funds or expenses from one category to another does not increase the total budget or expense but better aligns available program support where it is needed most.
Buffalo State is facing financial challenges resulting from multiple years of declining state support and, more recently, declining enrollments. For 2017–2018, we are projecting a deficit of as much as $7.4 million between our projected revenue and projected operating expenses on an all-funds basis.
The Budget Committee Support Group will lead the effort to solicit and receive input campuswide. This idea-gathering process will begin with presentations to a number of campus groups and will include a series of budget focus groups.
Ideas and suggestions gathered from the campus community will be evaluated for possible implementation by the Budget Committee Support Group. After review and prioritization, final recommendations will be forwarded to the Budget Committee, composed of the president, the provost, and the vice president for finance and management.
The president will make final decisions about the budget reallocation in consultation with the President’s Cabinet. Approved ideas for budget reallocation will be put into operation and promulgated to the campus community.
This will be an open, inclusive, and transparent process, and each member of the campus community can play an important part. All faculty, staff, and students will be invited to share their suggestions for rebalancing the budget. The Budget Committee Support Group will assess those ideas, and the president, along with the President’s Cabinet, will make decisions about which ideas to implement.
Budget rebalancing will be a multiyear, iterative process during which potential solutions will be solicited, evaluated, and considered for implementation on an ongoing basis.
The goal of the budget rebalancing process is to develop a plan to close the gap between revenues and expenditures in a strategic manner to ensure fiscal integrity, increase efficiencies, and assist the campus in functioning with optimal effectiveness. In this way we can best achieve our mission of providing students with a high-quality, relevant, and empowering educational experience.
Before 2016–2017, Buffalo State was able to cover its fiscal obligations through a combination of tuition revenue, state assistance, and planned use of cash balances. In fall 2016, the campus experienced an unplanned enrollment decrease of 800 students, which has reset baseline projections for future years. Now is the time when Buffalo State must address how expenditures can be reduced, and available resources redirected, to maintain, strengthen, and expand mission-critical programs.
Buffalo State is not considering a retirement incentive at this time. Generally, a retirement incentive is an expensive option in the short run because senior staff members are paid to separate from the payroll, while others must be paid to provide replacement services. More important, this action is not strategic in that the campus cannot control which employees will participate. Immediate concerns arise if several employees who provide critical services to students or the campus leave at the same time.
Buffalo State is not considering retrenchment at this time; however, it must be recognized that about 80 percent of campus expense is for labor, and finding a way to reduce $7 million in cost will involve some reduction in staffing. We expect to take advantage of planned retirements and staff turnover to reduce costs in some areas and provide support to other areas. Careful consideration will be given as to which programs require new or continuing support based on enrollment and campus-usage levels.
Position control is the selective refilling of vacant positions for mission-critical or health-and-safety reasons. Buffalo State implemented position control in September 2016, and this will continue during the period of budget rebalancing to ensure that hiring is well-considered and strategic.
Much attention has been given to campuswide retention efforts, and we hope to see the results of those efforts in future semesters; however, we know that Buffalo State experienced essentially flat enrollment between the spring and fall 2017 semesters; that enrollments are down at the community colleges, which serve as feeder schools; and that the size of the incoming class of students will be affected by lower high school graduation rates and applicant selectivity considerations. We will plan conservatively for future periods until we know otherwise.
Adding 100 new undergraduate students would yield about $640,000 in new revenue. Increasing retention by 1 percent of our undergraduate population would yield about $506,000.
Budget allocations are authorizations to incur expenses or obligations up to a specified amount for a specific purpose and defined period of time.
Unrestricted funding sources are those that Buffalo State can use to support any of its campus programs. Restricted funding sources are those that are either legislatively or programmatically mandated to support a prescribed purpose. For budget rebalancing, we are focusing on those funds that permit flexibility in their assignment, that is, the unrestricted component.
Funds used for constructing new buildings, renovating existing buildings, or critical maintenance of existing facilities are called capital funds. In accordance with state requirements, these funds are restricted to meeting our facilities needs and cannot be used for any other purpose.
The strategic plan continues to guide all decisions that are being made. New support to key areas may not be obvious while we are in the period of rebalancing, but the focus is to support services the strategic plan deems critical.
We welcome your comments and questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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