The Guardian

Board to Administrators: ‘Do you care about what we say?’

Sarah Cavender, News Writer

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On Wednesday Apr. 11, the Board of Trustees and a crowd of about 60 people gathered at the future space of the Wright State Archives. Chief Financial Officer Jeff Ulliman and Chief Business Officer Walt Branson presented their finance, audit and infrastructure work at the meeting.

Trustee Sean Fitzpatrick initiated the meeting by voicing his concerns about the possibility of fiscal watch.

“We’ve made a lot of progress this year – we’ve reduced our expenditures by roughly $30 million dollars from where we were at the same point last year,” Fitzpatrick said. “When I look at the financials, we are on a trajectory towards fiscal watch and that’s something I would like to avoid.”

Unexpected expenses such as increased claims for health insurance has set the university over their budget, according to Branson.

“In the close of February, we thought we had a $5 million problem, but in the first three weeks of March we were good. The last week in March was very high; the number of claims was nearly double what we would normally have, so we raised it up to $5.5 million,” Branson said.

According to Branson, the total number of claims as of Dec. 31 is up 3.5 percent. The current health plan is under evaluation. The university has been self-insured for the last eight to ten years, which Trustee Grace Ramos requested to look into.

Currently, the university has $10.5 left to cut from its budget.

“There’s money [in the budget] that may not actually be there, which has happened to you before,” Langos said when reviewing the financial report for the last month. He requested a soft close of the university finances by next week.

“We’ve spent $731,000 last month and we have $200,000 left in our budget for the next three months,” said Fitzpatrick, referring to the last three months left of this fiscal year.

Branson and Ulliman stated that as long as departments lived within their budgets they could stay on track of maintaining a saved $10 million.

Langos questioned the reasoning behind allowing 1500 employees to be in possession of purchasing cards, 72 job postings, the police department’s purchase of two new cruisers, and 120 leased or purchased campus vehicles with less than 10,000 miles.

In the last year, the board had requested that the university revisit contracts with housing and adjusting budgets within the college. When asked why requests were not addressed, Ulliman said that the meetings are scheduled in the future or are ongoing.

“All this accounts to a lack of urgency, just in general,” Trustee Bill Montgomery said.

“We are trying to help you save this university,” Langos said. “When I see that kind of other spending going on, it’s frivolous to be honest with you. It is ridiculous for us to even be sitting here with you right now, if you’re not willing to help yourself.”

Members of the board requested ending travel unless approved by Branson or President Schrader and catering in attempt to recover loss expenses until the end of the fiscal year. Over thirty contracts were reviewed with several being reexamined and a few being rescheduled for review at the next board meeting.

President Cheryl Schrader agreed with the board about the need for urgency when correcting spending problems.

“I want to reiterate what Bruce said. It’s important that it’s on everyone’s mind and everybody’s responsibility that we are really focused on accountability and focused on doing everything we can that is going to reduce expenditures that are not critical. I want people to know there is scrutiny happening every day,” Schrader said.

The next finance, audit and infrastructure meeting will take place on May 18.

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Board to Administrators: ‘Do you care about what we say?’