2011-12 operating budget set at $429 million by trustees

Making heads and tails of a budget, combing through spreadsheets and crunching numbers is not the most glamorous part of being a journalist, but it is where some of the best stories come from. I wrote this mostly on deadline, after my university’s board finalized the annual budget, along with five or six other stories that day. We also learned the tuition rate (easily the most read story of the year by students, the most important issue at the very least) and several other stories regarding the ongoing faculty contract negotiations broke that day. I started my day at a rally at 8 a.m. prior to the board meeting and my day went at least another 13 hours after that. It was long and stressful, but more than anything else, exciting. Aside from an election night, one of my favorite days as a reporter.

(Read the original story here)

CMU’s operating budget for fiscal year 2011-12 weighs in at $429 million, an increase of about $11 million from last year’s $418 million.

The university expects $333,603,212 from the general fund in total revenue, which includes tuition dollars, state appropriations and other sources. The non-general fund, which includes other revenue such as parking tickets and several other sources, will generate about $95 million.

Tuition Revenue

Tuition dollars will account for $204,496,263, said David Burdette, vice president of Administration and Financial Services.

The number is $7 million higher than the previous fiscal year, which ended June 30. Tuition was increased about 3.5 percent, or $12 a credit hour from $346 to $358 per credit hour.

The 2,118 students still covered under the CMU Promise, a program which locked students in to a tuition rate for five years, will not experience the change.

All students who joined CMU in 2007-2008 when the Promise was active pay $304 per credit hour, or $9,120 for a 30-credit-hour year. Those not covered will pay $10,740 annually for the same hours.

Tuition increases at other universities have ranged from 3.65 percent at Eastern Michigan University to 7 percent at Oakland University.

Kathy Wilbur, vice president of Development and External Relations, said the tuition move will be helpful in dealing with state educational organizations, referencing a message she saw on Twitter from State Rep. Bob Genetski, R-Saugatuck.

Genetski, the chairman of the Higher Education subcommittee in the state House of Representatives, wrote in response to a Detroit Free Press article regarding the tuition news, “Great for students and state!”

Michigan State and Wayne State University have been accused of raising tuition above the 7.1 tuition restraint clause of the state budget. According to the Detroit News, MSU could lose $18.3 million in public funding, WSU could lose up to $12.8 million in public dollars.

Grand Valley State University was the last Michigan public university to reveal its rates when its board of trustees decided on a 6.9 percent increase on Friday.

Pay freezes

Four employee groups will see their wages frozen at least temporarily for a second year in a row; professional and administrative employees, senior officers, public broadcasting and office professionals will all have no pay increases for at least the beginning of FY 2011-12.

University President George Ross said the pay of these groups will be reviewed later this year.

“Given the continued uncertainty regarding the state appropriations funding and the economic climate, 2011 to 2012 salary adjustments will not be given at this time,” Ross said. “University-wide, budget-related employee furloughs and lay-offs will not occur in 2011-12.”

Two other employee groups have also seen pay freezes: the Police Officers Association of Michigan and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

The Graduate Student Union and Union of Teaching Faculty both received pay increases.

The university was in mediation with the Faculty Association, which represents tenure and tenure track faculty members at CMU, at the time, and fact finding with supervisory and technical employees.

Following Thursday’s meeting, the FA announced mediation was unsuccessful between the parties and the FA will also enter fact finding with the university.

The university is looking to find efficiencies by outsourcing some services, Burdette said, and 25 vacant full time equivalent positions have been eliminated.

He said CMU cut almost $3.8 million total from the following divisions in spring 2011 to prepare for losses in state funding: Central Administration, Academic Affairs, Finance and Administrative Services, Development and External Relations and the President’s Office.

“We have put together a plan of $3.7, almost $3.8 million of permanent reductions,” Burdette said.

Financial plan

Burdette said declining state appropriations are a major change in the new budget. The university has lost $12 million in state aid, or 15 percent from FY 2010-11.

Burdette highlighted the decline in state revenue since 2000-2001, when state aid accounted for 36 percent of revenue compared to FY 2011-12, where it accounts for 16 percent.

The university has also intentionally decreased student enrollment by 2.1 percent, University President George Ross said.

CMU will spend an additional $3.8 million on financial aid, $2.1 million on infrastructure and $2.2 million in recruiting and hiring tenure-track faculty.

It currently spends $39.5 million on financial aid for various scholarships and grants; the additional $3.8 million will be spent on additional Board of Trustees Academic Scholarships, increased need-based aid and additional Study Abroad scholarships as well as others.

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