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Budgeting screwups

Some of my too many responsibilities as chair relate to the department budget. I got to writing our annual budget [1]. I was supposed to pay attention to how we were spending our money. It appears that I screwed up, big time. How?

Let’s start with paying attention to our spending. We over-spent our student labor budget by about 60%. How? That’s a good question. I checked the budget on April 4. We had about 15% left in the student labor budget. That was less than I would have liked, but I had expected us to go over a bit because we added two courses and had expanded two or three courses which meant extra staffing. I checked the budget on May 11. We had basically spent what had been allocated, but, as I said, we knew we’d go a bit over [2].

So what happened? The May 15 student charges were higher than normal. And then there were charges for May 30 and June 15. Given that May 12 was the last day of classes, I did not expect those charges. Amazingly, May 30 plus June 15 totaled 25% of what we had allocated, which accounts for a big part of our overspending.

If that weren’t bad enough, our overspending in 2016-17 suggests that I significantly under-estimated for 2017-18. How did I come up with the number for 2017-18? Well, I needed to come up with a budget in early December 2016 using historical data for planning purposes. In 2015-16, we’d underspent our student labor budget by about 10%. I took the budget line and multiplied by 6/5 to accommodate the addition of another faculty member along with what I thought was a fudge factor. It appears that I failed.

To make matters even worse [3], student wages are going up [4] and we’ve added more sections than we’d planned on.

So now Jerod gets to talk to Mike about (a) why we overspent and (b) why we need significantly more than we budgeted for.

Sorry Jerod!

[1] I didn’t get to choose arbitrarily. The model is that departments request what they think they will need and then the budget committee modifies them. Departments were generally expected to keep their budgets flat, but the huge increase in students in CS did mean that we were allowed to increase some lines.

[2] We also knew that we’d be over on food. I discussed that issue in some earlier musings.

[3] Or even better, depending on your perspective.

[4] Graders will get $9.00 per hour rather than $8.50. Tutors and Mentors will get $9.50 per hour rather than $9.10 per hour. I think that averages out to about a 5% increase.

Version 1.0.1 of 2017-07-11.