Ask the Expert: Budgeting

THE UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO COLORADO SPRINGS

The expert advice to answer your most pressing questions. This month,
Skyler Rorabaugh, the director of Campus Recreation at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, shares advice on budgeting.  

First off, why is a budget key?

SR: I believe a budget provides a financial roadmap for your departmental spending for the year. Without this, your team doesn’t have specific parameters to work within to monitor their expenditure constraints, as well as challenge themselves to meet their revenue goals. A budget can also provide consistency and equity in regard to departmental funds.

How do you decide on the budget for the year/where funds are going to be allocated? What does that process look like? 

SR: The entire planning process takes about six months to complete. Our process for budget planning is a multi-faceted approach:

  1. Research and forecast changes in our fixed costs.
  2. Coordinate with our finance office to best predict student fee revenue as well as our shared services model expenditures.
  3. Collectively work with our facility services and IT departments as well as our campus recreation facility operations and administrative team to update our 10-year capital outlay plan for purchases greater than $5,000.
  4. Meet as a team to establish our departmental and work unit goals, and review strategic plan initiatives to best understand and guide our budget planning process in order to meet those goals.
  5. Complete departmental unit budget planning requests based from the aforementioned collection of information.
  6. Return these submitted budgets to each unit with revisions as necessary, and with an explanation as deemed necessary for any modifications made.
  7. Finalize our capital outlay plan and operating budgets in coordination with our auxiliary finance office and division administration based on the best information available to us at the time.

How do you go about reducing costs in order to maximize your budget?

SR: During our budget planning process, our campus recreation team always conducts discussions around cost saving measures. Some of those measures include the evaluation of staffing responsibilities to make certain we are working efficiently and effectively. We discuss the use of technology and how that can streamline operations, implement cost controls to obtain the best price for a particular product, evaluate energy saving measures, assess marketing strategies, and consider the adoption of new systems and their related impact to our programs, services and operations. Often, we develop multiple budgets that may be more aggressive to overly conservative so we are prepared for changes in our funding. Our overall department annual budget is more of a conservative approach since we rely on student enrollment and credit hours for our revenue, which is something that fluctuates and is unpredictable. 

Any other budgeting advice?

SR: There is no exact science to budget creation and implementation, but there are definitely best practices. Don’t be overly stressed when expenditures or revenues are not meeting your projections. Be prepared.  

Heather Hartmann
Heather Hartmann is the editor for Campus Rec Magazine. She can be reached at heather@peakemedia.com.

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