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Budget tweaks remain for UNT

Profile image for By Jenna Duncan
By Jenna Duncan

Figures must still be finalized for 2014 even as fiscal year ends

DALLAS — With just a few weeks left in the 2014 fiscal year, the University of North Texas System still does not have an accurate budget for 2014.

In a Board of Regents meeting Thursday, the regents had a heated discussion with financial leadership about proposed changes to the fiscal 2014 budget, which reflects some, but not all, finalized figures.

Since the amended budget would still have to be changed later to reflect the end of the fiscal year, the board voted unanimously to table action until financial leadership can propose an adjusted budget that is complete and accurate.

The amended budget raised several red flags for regents. For example, Glen Whitley asked finance officials why one revenue category dropped by $7 million from 2013 to the revised 2014 budget.

Bob Brown, UNT’s vice president of finance and administration, said the low 2014 figure was inaccurate since all the money hasn’t come in, even though officials know it will be about the same amount as 2013 by the end of the year.

“You’re dancing a lot, but I’m not hearing answers yet,” Whitley told Brown after the explanation, trying to get more details.

Confusion in the finance committee portion of the meeting continued until regents decided they did not want to pass an amended budget that would just have to be changed again, then be reapproved.

Officials blamed the problem on the way UNT has historically made budgets, saying the system is not aligned with best accounting practices. As new leadership tries to implement changes, going back to correct mistakes in old budgets is an ongoing problem, officials said.

The 2014 budget was made in the summer of 2013, before financial problems emerged at the flagship campus and new financial leadership took over. As the university tries to implement new budgeting practices, trying to update the old ones becomes a “slippery slope,” board chairman Brint Ryan said.

The point of even presenting the revised budget was to accurately reflect what officials know at this point, even though it isn’t complete, Chancellor Lee Jackson said.

The regents were able to pass a budget for the upcoming fiscal year, but only because they must do so by Sept. 1. In the full board meeting before the 2015 budget was approved, regents had similar questions about the accuracy of statements. The regents asked to receive an updated budget at the next meeting with more detail.

The board meets again Friday in an executive session during which regents will consider the system contracts with Jackson and Chief Internal Auditor Michelle Finley.

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