Despite an estimated $527,000 shortfall, the Division of Student Development expects to break even by the end of the year.
The bulk of the budget problem came from three areas within the division, according to the February Student Development Budget Summary.
Athletics and the Costello Sports Complex were the source of a $275,000 overrun, Residence halls and Dining Services spent $100,000 over budget, and USM Police and bus service accounted for $100,000 of the deficit.
Despite the current overrun, Craig Hutchinson, executive assistant to the vice president for Student Development, hesitated to reduce services to alleviate the problem. Instead, he expects the combination of $150,000 in assistance from the University’s chief financial officer, a $50,000 expansion of the division budget also facilitated by the chief financial officer, and cost reduction efforts on the part of individual departments totaling $327,000 will eliminate his division’s shortfall.
“I will stress again that the shortfall could have been dealt with by reducing staff or services . the department heads, however, chose instead to scrutinize expenditures and revenues and correct the problem with as little negative effect on students as possible,” said Hutchinson.
Assistance from Sam Andrews, chief financial officer for the Office of Finance and Administration, will come from a reserve fund that is intended for miscellaneous expenses, including budget overruns.
“It’s a reserve that’s been there for probably 25 years. We’ve used it for a variety of things over the years,” he explained.
Andrews was unsure how much was in the reserve, but expected the shortfall in the Division of Student Development to ” . just about do it” for the fund.
The division’s budget was considerably overdrawn this year, but Hutchinson explained that it is difficult to anticipate all the variables of a coming year when the budget is prepared.
“In any given year you run the risk of having a budget situation that’s different than you thought it would be.” he said.
Hutchinson stressed the effect of increased utility costs on this year’s budget. Utilities accounted for portions of the shortfall related to the Costello Sports Complex and residence halls. Related increases in fuel prices affected the cost of travel by sports teams and resulted in reassessment of the University’s contract with bus companies.
Other key factors in the overrun were a $100,000 shortfall in Ice Arena revenue due to unpredicted competition from new facilities in other towns, overtime wages related to staff shortages in the USM Police Department, and start-up costs for a new residence hall in Gorham.
General Manager Meghan Conley can be contacted at: [email protected]