Review of finances leads to external audit

Review of finances leads to external audit

March 12
00:26 2015

Paul Wedding / Senior Staff Writer

The UNT system will undergo an external audit by Grant Thornton LLP in an attempt to figure out if the $75.6 million that state claims UNT owes has been misstated.

This audit came after the discovery that UNT had been improperly using state funds for employee benefits and salaries for more than 10 years.

UNT Chancellor Lee Jackson said that after an analysis last fall, UNT received $69 million in excess funding for legitimate employee benefits over the past 11 years. He said that it will be a state budget policy decision to address these past imbalances.

“We are not the first institution to have made errors in the balancing of state and local funds for employee benefits, and there has never been a clear precedent about how to correct past errors in benefits funding,” Jackson said.

Jackson said that all Texas universities were asked by Gov. Rick Perry over the summer of 2014 to review the past three years of benefit funding, and that several other universities have disclosed errors in funding as well.

“UNT did not find errors in 2013 or 2014, but did identify a $4.7 million error in fiscal year 2012,” Jackson said. “UNT has now submitted a payment of the $4.7 to the state to correct the funding imbalance that occurred during the three-year audit review period.”

Jackson does not know if any affected university will have to pay for years prior to 2012, but said that UNT will continue to cooperate in any way the state asks.

Neither Jackson nor the legislature want the repayments to adversely affect the students in any way, but it could reduce funds available for other university priorities.

“Our efforts over the past year have been to put in place better financial controls and leadership so that errors of this type never occur again,” he said. “We are committed to operate a financial record and payment system of the highest integrity and accuracy, and we believe we have made great progress in that direction.”

The audit will be completed by May 21, Grant Thornton partner Ben Kohnle said. He also said this is the first external audit UNT has ever had outside of state audits.

Information technology sophomore Wayne Sturdivant is worried about the budget cuts in departments that may result due to the debt.

“I think it’s ridiculous that they could be this irresponsible with their funds and now every department is going to suffer for it,” he said.

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