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WSU still trying to control spending

Moscow-Pullman Daily News

Washington State University will invest in a new financial management system to manage university resources better, and focus on building adequate reserve levels while keeping unit budgets balanced, Matthew Skinner, associate vice president for finance, told the Board of Regents on Friday.

A WSU news release said the regents, meeting at WSU Tri-Cities, also approved a proposal by the Housing and Dining Board to increase residence hall rates by no more than 2.6 percent of the total weighted average for room and board, and increase campus apartment rates by no more than 2.5 percent of the same average.

To plan financial resources better, the university will reinstitute a formal university budget development process, create comprehensive funding plans for buildings in advance of their construction and develop a robust financial analysis to accompany all proposals presented to the regents, Skinner said, according to the release.

Enrollment growth in the 2016 fiscal year, he said, meant that tuition revenue remained strong despite a 5 percent reduction in resident undergraduate tuition rates.

State appropriations for operations and new facilities increased, while WSU Research remained stable, despite increased competition for federal awards, he said.

Skinner said several building projects were completed and put into service.

But the university appeared to be continuing to spend more than it was bringing in.

“Cash and investments declined as expenses exceeded revenue for the last two fiscal years,” the release quoted Skinner as saying. “This decline, largely driven by several strategic investments, in conjunction with the effects of changes in accounting for benefit plans over the last two years has caused a significant reduction in unrestricted net assets.”

The university will seek ways to increase and diversify revenues, he said.

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