Bemidji State University plans for a 2010 budget shortfall

BEMIDJI, Minn. — In light of changing economic coniditions in the state of Minnesota, officials at Bemidji State University announced today to faculty and staff that they should prepare for a fiscal year 2010 budget shortfall of approximately $2.5 million.

The projected shortfall is attributed to the state’s economic climate, and Minnesota’s projected $4.8 billion dollar budget deficit announced during the state’s December budget forecast for the next biennium, fiscal years 2010 and 2011. In response, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has proposed a 10.7 percent reduction to the state’s appropriation to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.

Due to the rapidly changing nature of circumstances external to the University, no details on how Bemidji State would address the projected shortfall are available at this time. Before making a more concrete determination as to its course of action, the University must await both the state of Minnesota’s February economic forecast, which will be announced in early March, and a tuition decision by the Board of Trustees of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system for the 2010-2011 biennium, which is expected in June.

“There are a lot of matters outside of our control that are in the process of being decided in St. Paul,” said Bill Maki, Bemidji State’s vice president for finance and administration. “We’re trying to communicate the situation to the campus using the best information that is available to us at this time.

“We expect changes to our projections for 2010 and 2011 as we get better information,” Maki said. “But we’re in position where we are already preparing for this, and we are using a $2.5 million shortfall as a guideline to set the landscape for how we approach the next few months. The president has a responsibility to balance the budget.”

The University’s approach to projected shortfall will be guided by three principles:
• The University’s budget will be balanced.
• The core of the University will be protected.
• The University will continue building for the future.

The current planning to address a projected shortfall for fiscal year 2010 does not take into account an unallotment of $588,466 that took place in January; that money has already been returned to the state, and the University is currently finalizing a proposal as to how that repayment will be addressed.

The University will make future budget decisions with the assumption that a future unallotment by the state is possible.

“We’ll need flexibility in the event we are faced with another unallotment,” Maki said.