Budget & Forecast FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

 

When are budget submissions due?

The date changes slightly each year, but the web forms typically open in October and remain open through early November.  Two weeks prior to the final deadline however, division reports are run for each of the Vice Presidents and the President, so it is expected that managers have a first draft in the system at that point for preliminary discussion.  Division meetings are then scheduled at the discretion of the VP to review the submissions and make any necessary changes.  At the end of the two weeks, the web forms are closed to all edits.  A calendar with specific dates for the current year is distributed to all cost center managers before the process begins.

How do I make a request using an account number not listed on my budget web form?

Simply send an email to the Office of Financial Operations, and the account will be added.

Do I have to explain any requested increase/decrease, even if it’s a small one?

Yes.  This information is necessary for the presentation used by the Cabinet to balance the budget at the annual retreat.  Small changes at the department level can add up to significant ones for the University in total.  The web forms are set up to reject requested changes to the budget without explanations.

What should I include in my salary budget?

Actual salary budgets for faculty & staff are ‘rolled’ into the budget by Human Resources & the Office of Financial Operations and do not have to be calculated by managers.  Merit increases are budgeted at the university level and do not need to be budgeted by department managers.  Promotions, new positions, student salaries, temp expense, overtime, shift differentials, department assistants, stipends, honorariums and special project payments must be specifically requested.

Can I request a new position or a promotion/upgrade for my current staff?

The current policy of Bentley is, with very few exceptions, that all increases to salary (including new positions, promotions, & equity increases) must be covered by either funds from the VP’s holding account or an offsetting salary decrease within the division. Changes/exceptions to this policy are at the discretion of the President and CFO.  However, if after meeting with your VP, it is established that offsetting funds are not available, the request may be submitted for approval at the annual budget retreat as an increase to the base budget.

What is a ‘VP holding account'?

In order to prevent excessive growth of the overall University base salary budget, VP’s must cover new positions and other increases with existing salary funds in their division.  Each VP has an account which holds any difference between the approved salary budget and actual salaries, and it is expected that the balance in this account remain positive or at zero.  When, for example, a position with a budget of $50,000 is filled at $48,000, the $2,000 in savings is credited to the account, which can then be used toward new positions or to fund other increases.

Because these accounts are funded through turnover, which is naturally more prevalent in some divisions than others, the balances are ever-changing and can vary greatly.  As a result, there are times when funding a new position or salary increase through the budget development process is the only option.  Managers should discuss any requests for increases to salary expense with their VP, who will make the determination as to whether or not the funds need to be requested as an increase to the division's base salary budget.

Can I use savings from staff vacancies or supply & general (S&G) expenses to create a new position or to give a staff person an increase?

No.   New positions, promotions/upgrades, and equity increases are permanent increases in salary.  Vacancy savings are temporary, and by agreement of the President and Cabinet, are not for use by individual departments or divisions.  The only exception to this is to offset temp expense directly related to a vacancy until it is filled, and this must be included in your quarterly forecasts so that University vacancy savings estimates can be adjusted.

Savings related to S&G are also temporary and therefore cannot be used to fund salary increases or new positions.  There are also fringe & other costs associated with salary expenses, so it is not a one-for-one substitution.  For budget & forecasting purposes, salaries & S&G expenses are two separate entities.

Should I budget for annual merit increases?

No.  Updated salary information, including merits and all other adjustments occurring during the current year, will be ‘rolled’ into the budget directly from Human Resources.

If I go over budget in one area, but don't spend in another, is that ok?

Yes, as long as the changes are reflected in your forecasts.  It is understood that budgets are created months ahead of time, and that department priorities can change.  For the most part, the Office of Financial Operations is concerned with cost centers that are significantly over or under budget in total.  If you overspend in office supplies, but do not spend as much in computer supplies, that is not a problem.  However, major swings, particularly from expense type to expense type (i.e., operating supplies versus advertising & promotion), are more of an issue due to different inflation rates used in Bentley's 5-year plan.  Variances that occur repeatedly, covered or not, also raise questions as to how these items are being budgeted.  As much as possible, the budget should match actual spending patterns.

Can I move my budgets around if I find I’m spending more or less than anticipated in a particular area?

No.  Once the budget is final, there are no more changes.  A late-May/early-June deadline is issued in the spring, when all requests for reallocations are due to the Office of Financial Operations.  Managers should still spend their funds as necessary to run their operations (within their VP’s guidelines), and simply report any variances from the budget during the January and April forecasts.

Why do I have to do a quarterly forecast?  How many are there?

The quarterly forecasts are done in January and April.  (There is also a September forecast, but because it is so early in the year, only a few key managers will need to provide information.)  The purpose is to report to the Board of Trustees how Bentley is expected to do relative to the approved budget.  Variances (savings & overages) are reported by division, and the projected net gain/loss for Bentley as a whole is estimated.  This information is reviewed at year-end to ensure that managers are forecasting as accurately as possible, and to explain major differences from final actuals.

How do I submit a capital request? Why can’t I use the web forms?

The budget web forms include operating expenses only.  Capital project numbers are set up after budget approval and change year-to-year, so basically there is no place to ‘hold’ the request during budget development.  More importantly, while these projects are initially approved during the budget process, how funds are actually spent by each division then becomes the decision of the VP, and as priorities change, sometimes substitutions are made.

Around the same time that the on-line operating request forms open up in October, capital managers are contacted to review their previous year 5-year capital plans that were submitted during the budget process.  Capital managers are requested to update their 5-year plan projections to reflect any changes in department needs, priorities, or cost estimates.  Requests are evaluated by the Office of Financial Operations to determine whether or not they meet capital guidelines; and if they don’t, managers will be notified to include them in their operating requests.

Should I include requests for current year capital projects that may run into the following year?

Yes.  Capital funds do not “roll-forward” from year to year; they are approved for the year for which they are submitted.  So if it is expected that work on a current project will not be completed or a purchase not received by June 30, the portion of the project expected to hit the next fiscal year must be included in the request for that year.

Are installment costs considered capital?

Yes. Any cost incurred to bring a purchase to the point at which it can be used in operations is considered a capital expense.

Are maintenance contracts considered capital?

No. Regardless of the timing of the purchase or dollar value of a maintenance contract, it is budgeted as an operating expense under 'Repair & Maintenance' (709's).

Why do I need to send renovation & other related requests to Facilities?

Simple office moves & renovations often have unforeseen repercussions on the overall infrastructure of an area. Therefore, any project involving a renovation, relocation, or reconfiguration of office space must be reviewed by Facilities prior to submission.  It is the responsibility of the department manager to contact, and if necessary meet with the Executive Director of Facilities Management to review plans and obtain a quote.