SC State still has no budget for this fiscal year - - Columbia, South Carolina |

SC State still has no budget for this fiscal year

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SC State University's Board of Trustees has yet to pass its fiscal year 2013 budget, after acknowledging a $10 million deficit. Instead, trustees and university staff are still deliberating where the remaining $4 million of the deficit will come from.

During a board meeting Thursday, trustees also learned that its historical operating revenues are lower than its operating expenses, which was highlighted in an auditor's report. For 2010, the university had $81.7 million in revenue, followed by $91.6 million in 2011 and $91.7 million in 2012. However, the university spent $115.9 million in 2010; $120.9 million in 2011 and $118.4 million in 2012.  

Despite spending more money than the university takes in, the school's Assistant Vice President of Finance Eric Eaton said Thursday that the university can make a $1.8 million debt service payment in October at "no problem."

"At this point, with everything we are talking about, we are not experiencing any undue stress," Eaton said. "We pay our bills on time. We are improving our administrative process, collecting outstanding obligations on time and pulling from federal sources. … We are trying to be more precise and crisp with the day-to-day operations of the university."

Eaton told trustees Thursday that the remaining $4 million will come from personnel and operating expenses.

Part of SC State's deficit improvement came from a decrease in enrollment. The university was projecting for 4,180 students, but on Thursday, Eaton said the actual student enrollment is 3,824. That saved the university $1.7 million. Eaton also pointed out current personnel cost savings in salaries and benefits of $ 2.1 million.

When asked if SC State University can satisfy the school's needs, Eaton was confident that once a budget is approved, the university can fulfill all that is needed to operate.

"We have to attack the areas that we operate inefficiently," Eaton said, adding he plans to deliver a budget to run the university. "We have a lot of room to build improvement."

Incoming Chairman Dr. Walter Tobin said as long as the information is transparent to the board and the public, he thinks the university can stay open and continue to serve its students.

"We have to have solid information and accurate information to make those kinds of decisions," Tobin said, who at one point in the meeting Thursday felt like recently was the first time in years the board was given truthful financial information about the university. "That's what we depend on the administration for. We are then in the position to move forward."

The Board of Trustees also plans to create a small committee to create a list of criteria to search for a new university president. The board plans to have its current year's budget approved by the end of October in time to notify staff who will not be needed for the spring semester.

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