Budget council nears recommendation

Joe Lord

It’s Western’s turn to budget.

The university budget council is finalizing its budget recommendation for next school year, trying to find money to fulfill the funding priorities set by the administration and Board of Regents.

The members met yesterday with hopes of finalizing a recommendation to send to President Gary Ransdell for his review, said Chief Financial Officer Ann Mead, the council’s chairwoman.

They did not end up passing a budget recommendation, but they hope to have one finished by the end of the month.

Ransdell said last week that his priorities for Western’s budget are increasing faculty and staff salaries, insurance contributions and part-time employee pay. He said he would also like money for more faculty positions to offset enrollment growth.

There should be at least $500,000 in the next academic budget for the university to hire new faculty members to ease the additional 3,000 students the university has enrolled since 1998, Ransdell said.

He said he would like another $500,000 to go toward that cause, if the money is available.

If Ransdell supports the budget created by the council, it will be forwarded to the Board of Regent’s Finance and Budget Committee on April 22 for their review, Mead said.

Mead said if Ransdell does not approve of its recommendations, he may send the budget back to the council for revisions before forwarding it on to the Finance and Budget Committee.

Once the budget passes the committee, it will move to the full board, who are responsible for finalizing it, she said.

The regents will pass a budget in May, but a special meeting might be called later in the month if the process is not finished by their regularly scheduled meeting on May 9, Ransdell said.

“We don’t know yet, but we might have to do that,” he said.

The new fiscal year starts July 1. The council’s work has been delayed by seven weeks because the General Assembly didn’t pass a state budget until March 10, eight months after the state’s fiscal year began, Mead said.

“It’s been slow since we were waiting on the state so long,” said Ross Pruitt, the student representative on the budget council.

Mead said the budget council couldn’t anticipate Western’s funding early because the House and Senate versions of the state budget differed widely.

The House would have cut the university’s funding $1.4 million this year and kept it at the same level next year. The Senate, who prevailed, also gave a $1.4 million cut this year, but they gave a $3 million increase next year.

The eight budget council members met for the first time on Feb. 12. Pruitt said they have worked fast since the state budget was passed.

“It’s been a lot quicker process then I thought it would be,” he said.

Reach Joseph Lord at [email protected]