North Texas Daily

Board of Regents approves 2016 budget

Board of Regents approves 2016 budget

Board of Regents approves 2016 budget
August 26
23:40 2015

Rhiannon Saegert | Senior Staff Writer


The Board of Regents approved the UNT System Consolidated Budget for 2016 on Friday in a unanimous vote.

The budget accounts for $1.1 billion in revenues, which is $30.3 million more than last year. It sets aside funds for multiple construction projects on UNT campuses.

Associate Vice President of Budget and Analytics Beverly Cotton said this year’s budget was created using an “all funds” approach for the sake of transparency.

In the past, certain programs were not required to include their budgets with the consolidated annual budget because they were deemed self-supporting. Now, those programs are reflected in the overall budget.

Nothing has changed about how self-supporting programs, like summer youth camps, are funded. The only thing that has changed is the way those funds are reported.

“They were reported in the financial statements, but because they were self-supporting, with previous methodology, we did not include them,” Cotton said.

[df-subtitle]The more transparent methods are an effort to show Texas lawmakers the university is keeping track of its funds and exercising caution, a direct response to the estimated $83 million in misused funds auditors found UNT had consumed after years of mismanagement of state benefits for employees. [/df-subtitle]

“Legislative session finished up last spring,” Cotton said. “We got new money from the state. We’re making sure we spend that strategically, making sure we do what we say we’re going to do.”

Net tuition and fees increase from $285.9 million to $308 million this year, a 7.8 percent increase for the UNT System. Maintenance and Operations expenditures will also increase by 8.6 percent after decreasing last year.

The proposed budget includes an 8.4 percent increase in salaries and wages from last year, and a 1.2 percent decrease in financial aid and scholarships.

Cotton said the Capital Appropriation fund, which comes from Higher Education Assistance funds, decreased by $2.8 million from last year, but will increase again next year.

These HEAF funds are annual funds that some state universities receive from the legislature in order to be on par with funding given to other universities. At UNT, the HEAF funds will go toward mechanical, plumbing, electrical and lighting renovations in various sections of the campus.

In spite of the decrease, capital expenditures are slated to increase from $18.6 million to $88.8 million.

“We ask the board for approval for the current operating budget, but in the budget documentation it also reflects our not-current funds, which are construction and plans for bonds,” Cotton said. “So it includes the capital expenditures too.”

Capital expenditures, meaning money the university spends on construction, equipment, and other physical assets, get reported to the board of regents quarterly.

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 2.52.44 AM

Courtesy | University of North Texas

For 2016, the budget sets aside $70 million in tuition revenue bonds from the state legislature to begin building a new College of Visual Arts and Design Building and $8 million for continuing student Union construction. A total $15.5 million in revenue financing system bonds was budgeted for Science Research Building renovations.

The Coliseum, which has not had major renovations since it was built in 1973, will receive $5.5 million for renovations. Fouts Field, which was partially demolished 3 years ago, will be completely demolished and replaced with a track and field facility.

Another $2 million will be spent bringing Wooten Hall up to fire code after an evaluation found multiple violations last spring. McConnell Hall, which houses the TAMS program, will also be brought up to fire code. The second floor of Sycamore Hall, which has been vacant since 2014, will be renovated, along with the first and second floors of Bruce Hall.

The budget sets aside an additional $3 million for construction of the former Sack ‘n’ Save, but there are not yet plans in place to develop the area.

The South side of Parking Lot 40 near Fraternity Row will be demolished, making room for more residence halls. Parking and transportation improvements coming from a $1.3 million in the budget are not specified.

The UNT Health Science Center is expected to earn $308.2 million in revenue in 2016 and budgeted for $283.2 million in expenditures. If approved, construction on a new Interdisciplinary Research Building, which will house laboratories, a vivarium, teaching labs, study areas, seminar rooms and more classrooms, will begin in September.

UNT Dallas will receive $1.6 million toward infrastructure renovations, including water, gas, electric and telecommunications services. The project is the first part of a plan to add a Student Learning and Success Center.

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