The primary function of the Budget Office is to assist in the development, monitoring & execution of budgets for various College funds. These funds include Oneonta's State Core Operating budget (Rev Offset), the Dormitory Income Fund (DIFR), General Income Fund Reimbursable (IFR), Summer Session, and Tuition Overflow (SUTRA). We also assist with financial data analysis and reporting, for both internal and external purposes. The Budget Office frequently works with SUNY System Administration staff on budget planning and administration.
In addition, the Budget Office provides managerial information, guidance, and review regarding the allocation and use of College resources. Under the direction of the VP for Finance, we provide ongoing analysis of the College's financial status. The Budget Office reviews expenditure patterns, revenue estimates and personnel service funding requirements, as well as approves and processes all allocation transfers. Budget works closely with IFR account managers in developing their program budgets and monitoring operations throughout the year.
The Budget Office strives to offer efficient and effective service to our customers in the SUNY Oneonta Campus community in all of the functions listed above.
Campus Spending Controls and Guidelines for Fiscal Year 2021-22
As a new fiscal year just began on July 1, we continue to address budget challenges. The Division of Finance and Administration has developed plans and general directions to fulfill our college’s operations within a controlled spending environment. These spending guidelines are less strict than last year and more closely resemble those of previous years. Finance and Administration will support the plan with robust monitoring of account balances, and spending activity and trends.
One of the challenges we face is external. SUNY continues to work with the New York State Division of the Budget (DoB) to evaluate proposed SUNY spending limits for the 2021-22 state fiscal year. At this time, the state has reduced SUNY spending limits in the statewide financial plan and is taking a “wait and see” approach before increasing those limits. The state-imposed spending limits may in turn impact the State’s timing for providing state tax operating support to SUNY, which could put a strain on operating budgets at the campus level. Therefore, SUNY is requiring that campuses maintain a controlled spending environment through at least the end of September, and potentially beyond.
At the campus level, these guidelines will help bolster our financial position as we deal with the financial impact (this year and beyond) of a lower-than-usual enrollment this year. Certainly, the financial impacts of dealing with the ongoing fallout from the COVID pandemic add to our need to conserve resources where possible while still fulfilling our mission and returning to a more normal operating environment.
As a result of these challenges, the controlled spending guidelines outlined here are expected to continue for the duration of this fiscal year. Any significant change in internal or external conditions may require a change in guidelines, and any such change will be communicated.
Initial 2021-22 budget allocations (a.k.a. “form 1”) are expected to post to departmental accounts in BI-Finance in the mid-September timeframe. The Budget Office will provide departments with their preliminary initial form 1 allocation amounts as soon as the campus’s form 1 is finalized for submission to SUNY in mid-August. These allocations will reflect the budget reduction plans submitted by each division earlier this summer.
As always, it is the responsibility of departmental account managers to carefully monitor all expenditures and not exceed their available allocation. Finance and Administration will increase its monitoring of spending levels relative to allocation, and account managers will be contacted if there are deficits or spending trends that may require attention. These communications will include cc: to all supervisors up through the cabinet officer. Spending from an account will not be allowed to continue if a deficit situation remains unresolved.
Departments can move forward with purchases within the limits of their account allocations for purchases less than $10,000. Cabinet-level approval is no longer required for these purchases, nor is the additional essential spending request form.
Purchases that are $10,000 and over will require approval from the department’s cabinet-level officer using the essential spending request form.
A new IT Procurement Policy was approved and implemented in May 2021; the policy can be located here: IT Procurement Policy. This policy requires advance approvals from the CIO, or designee, for most technology purchases including but not limited to hardware, software, printers, and computers.
Procurement card (p-card) use will be reinstated for approved cardholders. Transaction limits will be set at a maximum of $250 per transaction and $2,500 per statement month. Keep in mind these are maximums and depending on a department’s total allocated budget, limits may be less than these maximums. Training on p-card use and maintenance is available by contacting Krissy in the Procurement & Travel Office at Kristine.Palmatier@oneonta.edu, x2699.
Cardholders should review charges and move expenditures to intended accounts daily. This will enable account managers to keep a close eye on account balances as they are approving new expenditures. If any accounts linked to p-cards are found to have a deficit balance, the associated p-card may be turned off until the deficit issue is resolved.
Travel remains restricted to essential purposes and approval is required at the cabinet-officer level. Travel is limited to domestic travel until further notice. Reinstatement of international travel is dependent on conditions around the global pandemic, such as prevalence of new variants, and state and federal guidelines.
Travel categorized as “essential” includes:
- Health and safety purposes
- Direct instruction and research
- Revenue generation (e.g., enrollment, fundraising)
- Student-facing experiences (e.g., Athletics teams)
- Grant or other externally funded travel
In lieu of a cabinet-level signature on every travel request application (TRA), departments anticipating significant travel specific to the above categories may submit a travel plan to be approved by the respective cabinet member. Approved plans must then be shared with Procurement and Travel and the Budget Office for final review. Plans should include a brief explanation of essential nature of travel, expected timeframe involved, list of individuals expected to be traveling, estimated costs, and confirmation that costs are supported by available resources. An example may be a quarterly plan outlining all anticipated travel for members of the department in that time period.
Opportunities for attending conferences, meetings, or other necessary professional development events should be limited to virtual attendance whenever possible. Departments should consider options for limiting the number of people attending the same event, as well as other ways to reduce travel-related expenses where possible.
Departments must manage approved travel and travel-related expenses within their budgeted account allocations.
When travel is necessary and approved, per diem rates for lodging will be strictly enforced. Travelers may elect lodging that is over per diem rates, however, the overage cost will be borne by the traveler.
Please bear in mind that the changing nature of the pandemic does introduce financial risk to the traveler. For example, if a planned trip includes a flight, and the trip is canceled but the airline reservation cannot be, the traveler bears that cost. Or, if a traveler is unable to return to NY for a period longer than intended, they may bear additional expense.
Campus Spending Controls Q&A for Fiscal Year 2021-22
What types of approvals do I need to spend out of my departmental accounts?
For purchases under $10,000, departments can move forward as allowable within their budgeted account allocations. Purchase requisitions $10,000 and over will require the essential spending form with cabinet level approvals.
How will I know what I am approved to spend?
The Budget office will be communicating the FY21/22 budget allocations to departments, account managers, area leaders in mid-August.
Do I still need to identify COVID-19 related expenses?
Yes, please identify these expenses on the 21-22 purchase requisition, available on the procurement website. Departments will need to continue to identify these expenses and send a weekly email to Kathleen Feit in the budget office.
What happens if I submit a purchase requisition to procurement for technology, but I have not consulted with IT or have approvals?
Procurement and Travel will not process purchase orders for technology that do not have accompanying written or electronic approval from the CIO (or designee).
What if I do not have access to SUNY BI?
If you do not have access to view the department accounts in BI, please have the account manager request access for you. Account access should be requested from Rebecca O'Donnell in accounting.
What if I want to increase the limits per transaction?
Please contact the procurement office to discuss any transaction limit increases.
What if my P-card is expired?
If you currently have an expired card, Krissy Palmatier will be contacting you to pick up a replacement card.
Can I still make technology purchases with my P-card?
Purchases may be made via P-card only with authorization from Procurement and Travel and pre-approval from ITS.
Will every travel request need to go through the VPFA and President for approvals?
Each department that anticipates significant travel should develop a plan. These plans should include approvals from all supervisory levels up to, and including, the cabinet-level officer for the given department. All plans will be reviewed by the Vice President of Finance and Administration after cabinet level approvals. If approved, departments will be able to proceed with travel while operating within the parameters of their plan. A TRA will be needed in Procurement and Travel for each instance of travel, although if approved under a travel plan the TRA will not need cabinet-level approval.
For departments that don’t submit a travel plan for approval, a TRA should be submitted for each instance of travel. All TRAs should include approvals from all supervisory levels, up to, and including the cabinet-level officer for the given department.
Administrative departments that will be traveling for recruitment purposes (i.e., athletics, admissions) will not be required to submit a TRA.
What if my travel request is over the per diem?
Reimbursement for lodging that is over per diem will not be approved. Any costs above and beyond per diem rates will be the responsibility of the traveler. (This includes any overage booked on a college travelcard.)
Can we travel internationally?
International travel continues to be prohibited.
What about traveling for professional development?
Travel for professional development will be limited. Departments should try to utilize virtual professional development opportunities whenever possible. Exceptions can be made if the type of professional development is justified as essential or health and safety related. (i.e., a safety certification that requires in person attendance and participation)