UNT adjusts budget by $3.5 million

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FORT WORTH — The University of North Texas has adjusted its budget for the current fiscal year, as new projections show revenue will be $3.5 million less than anticipated.

The budget was created last summer when old leadership was in place and those who oversaw financial mismanagement were still in charge. Now, expenditures have been adjusted to meet the anticipated $542 million in revenues, Janet Waldron, the UNT System’s vice chancellor for finance, said during Thursday’s Board of Regents meeting.

In Waldron’s strategic budget update to the board, she noted that in the future the reports will be more thorough.

“It was obviously a budget that was put together before the hiring of the current vice president and chief financial officer, and probably one that the new president, I suspect, inherited as he was coming into office,” she said. “I know the chief financial officer is reviewing this very much currently as a priority area, and there will be changes as a result of that.”

The UNT budgeting process is one of several financial practices under reconstruction after years of financial mismanagement. Various problems were uncovered earlier this year when the university prepared for its first external audit.

UNT had earmarked $83.5 million in revenue that was supposed to finance employee benefits, but it turned out that the university was not entitled to those state funds. The money was collected over 10 years and stopped this April. The amount that UNT must pay back to the state has yet to be determined.

Additionally, financial officers overstated anticipated revenues by $23 million in 2012, which became money the university could never collect.

Now, UNT and system officials are working with outside auditors from Deloitte & Touche to figure out the full scope of the financial issues and restructure internal accounting practices and reporting.

Waldron updated the board on the financial situation, outlining the restructuring and how it’s being done. Teams of UNT and Deloitte staff have been created for each of the eight major initiatives. They will meet at least once a week on their specific issue.

These will all be remedied by the end of October, Waldron said. The initiatives range from policies and procedures to management changes.

Additionally, they are working to completely redo the university’s chart of accounts. This will be complete by the end of the calendar year, as will changes to the budgeting system and business process re-engineering, Waldron said.

The Board of Regents is expected to play a more active role in the financial turnaround over the summer. Chancellor Lee Jackson announced there would be a task force made up of some regents to receive more detailed information on a more frequent basis.

Waldron said the university also intends to create a public website this summer to track the progress of what the system calls its “financial transformation project.”

“An important piece is the communication — I think that goes without saying. … We have a team that’s focused on communications and transparency and getting information out so people know what we’re doing, why we’re doing it and how we’re going to be doing it so they can be part of the engagement,” Waldron said.

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.


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