On a day spent celebrating its 60th anniversary with various events, Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell also looked ahead, with its board giving preliminary approval for next academic year’s budget of $17.7 million.
“I think the campus is in really good shape,” said ENMU Vice President for Business Affairs Scott Smart at a Wednesday meeting of the ENMU-R Branch Community College Board meeting. “This is budget that is balanced. It is a budget that leaves us with a little bit of a surplus, a 2 percent to 3 percent surplus. … I am very comfortable with the numbers that are on this page.”
The board voted to approve the proposed 2018-2019 budget, but a final decision still must be made by the ENMU Board of Regents later this week.
Projected revenues and expenditures are only slightly different than the previous year’s budget, with revenues expected to be $17,696,719 and expenditures projected at $17,361,211. That would give the university an operating surplus for the year of $335,508.
The university also has large reserve funds, Smart said.
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Three different reserve funds total about $21.4 million, with about $14 million of that assigned to capital improvements. The other $7 million can be used for operating expenses. The reserves create a reoccurring surplus of about $400,000 to $500,000, Smart said.
He and Interim President Steven Gamble said that they intend to start using the capital reserves to make needed repairs to aging facilities and want to develop a facility maintenance and infrastructure priority list.
At least $5.6 million of the capital reserves have already been allocated. About $3.6 million is allocated for a new Physical Plant building to replace Quonset huts built more than 50 years ago for Walker Air Force Base. That project could cost up to $5 million, according to previously released information. Another $2 million of the reserves is expected to be used for an ongoing fire sprinkler system upgrade.
Gamble said he felt it was a priority to use the available money to repair and improve the campus. For example, he said, stairs in the gymnasium have needed repairs for more than two years.
“Right now, with the health of the capital budget, we have money to fix these things,” he said.
He also told the board that having too much unused money in reserves puts ENMU-R at a disadvantage when it comes to requesting state general obligation bond money from the Higher Education Department and the state legislature.
He said those bodies will give low priority to ENMU-R GO bond requests if the university does not have a good reason for spending its own reserves on capital projects.
“That’s exactly what has happened for the last four GO bonds. That’s eight years,” Gamble said. “Look at what you have gotten on the last four GO bonds. You haven’t gotten much compared to institutions of your size. You are near the bottom of the stack. Part of the problem is that they say, look, you have this money and you are not putting it to use.”
In addition to developing a facilities and infrastructure priority list, Vice President Scott Smart said that he plans to create an energy and water management plan with the aim of saving the university money as well as reducing consumption. He told the board that a water management plan will pay for itself within seven months.
At the same time the board heard about reserves and surpluses, it also approved some course fee deletions and course fee increases.
One course fee increase will pay for enhanced online and text study materials and resources for nursing students and will amount to about a $900 increase during the degree program. But university leaders said that the fees would be eligible to be covered by federal financial aid and by money provided by the state for workforce training.
Another new course fee adds $110 to provide electronic portfolios for students earning associate’s degrees in early childhood education that transfer to bachelor’s degree programs. The electronic portfolio is needed, board members were told, so that ENMU-R students do not fall behind ENMU students in Portales or other university students since other programs offer the course.
The fee increases also must be voted on by the Board of Regents, which meets at 1 p.m. Friday in Albuquerque.
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.