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Cash Crunch:

The Real Budget Story

By Briana Gunter
On October 29, 2015

The C-Lions urged community members and students to contact the Board of Governors and President Boggess to keep the pool open. 
Photo courtesy of Harry Ratliff

The price to attend Concord University with in-state tuition before financial aid: $6,744.00.  The price to attend Concord University with out-of-state tuition before financial aid: $14,824.00.  The price to keep the pool running: no one knows.  

In last week’s edition, there was a brief overview of the cost of the pool which was $47,334.01.  Taking just the tuition of in-state students without any financial aid, it would take roughly seven students to cover the cost of the pool each year or roughly three out-of-state students to do the same.  That’s assuming that it actually takes that much to run the pool.

On Tuesday, October 13 Faculty Senate met with Dr. Boggess and VP for Business and Finance, Chuck Becker.  During the meeting, it was mentioned that there’s never actually been a set line in the budget for the pool.  So how do we actually know how much it costs to run the pool?  Well, Charleston University has the same model of pool that Concord does, and it was put in at roughly the same time.  Their pool costs roughly $47,334.01 to run every year.  However, it’s hardly fair to compare Concord University’s pool costs to Charleston University’s even if it is the same model and was put in at the same time as ours.  Taking apart that figure, the email that Becker sent out to faculty about the rough estimate of costs for our pool included the following: $27,105.04 for the wages of student workers. $19,056 was for the salary of the “pool manager” or technically speaking the Director of Student Union Activities, and the cost for chemicals was $1,172.97.  Looking at those figures can be a bit misleading, however.  

The money used to pay student workers partially comes from work study, which is money set aside by the government specifically for paying student workers.  For the students not paid through work study, the faculty and administration are still trying to find those student workers other campus jobs. So, it’s still not saving any money as the students are just getting paid from a different account.  The salary for the Director of Student Union Activities won’t change either since he wears many hats for the campus and runs the fitness center as well as other things on campus.  By closing the pool, it doesn’t seem like the university will actually be saving that much money, they’ll just be taking the funds for work wages from somewhere else.

Concord University administration didn’t seem to realize the damage it would do when they decided to close the pool.  While the closure is just “until further notice” it’s hard to tell at this point whether or not the administration will change their decision.

While keeping a pool open may not appear to be of great importance it is the manner in which the University administration has handled the entire situation that has many people disappointed.  Neither faculty nor students were involved in the decision.  The Board of Governors were consulted, but they weren’t a part of the final decision making process. 

Instead of looking into alternatives, like taking a little from every budget, the administration decided to completely cut the pool, with more cuts guaranteed to come.  Looking at the budget report for fiscal year 2014, one must keep in mind that this budget’s numbers are from when Concord University had a different president.  With every year comes new expenses due to unforeseen circumstances as well as different decisions made by the administration in charge at the time.  In no way is it a reflection on the current president and her decisions, but rather a reflection on what Concord University has budgeted their funds for in the past.  Also, something to take into consideration is where the funds are coming from.  Some funds are donated or earmarked towards a specific cause or project and those funds can only be used for that specific purpose.  Whether or not the following things were paid for out of the university’s money or some external resource is fairly indistinguishable without extensive research.  

Nonetheless, the report for fiscal year 2014 showed that the following amounts of money were used for the following purposes: the President’s Office spent $5,901 on hospitality which was $1,901 over what they were actually budgeted.  $4,536 was spent for contractual services for the Academic Catalog; this included outsourcing the project of putting the Academic Catalog online so that students could have easier access to it.  For Undergraduate Research Day $3,700.75 was used towards hospitality, which was $1,200.87 over what was budgeted.  While this would include things such as refreshments, it’s unclear as to what else the money was used for.  There was $22,262.36 spent on “other equipment” on the line for Athletic Equipment.  There are no specifics as to what “other equipment” included.  $6,600 was spent on “ground improvements” for the basketball courts.  $1,580 used towards two gazebos.  $5,565.18 was used for “President’s Home Renovations.”  $27,914.62 was spent to bring in people to advise the university when they created their Strategic Plan for the years of 2015-2020.  $2,632.37 was used for hospitality for an HR-staff picnic, which was $1,296.37 over what was budgeted.  $74,794.60 was used for “Cable TV Service” in the dorms.  Clothing supplies for the football team cost $49,556.50 which was $11,964.50 over what was budgeted.  The men’s golf team, who currently has 6 members, spent $1,764.69 on clothing supplies while the women’s golf team, who currently has 4 members, spent $1,999.28 on clothing supplies.  The women’s golf team alone had $33,000 given in scholarship money, which is roughly $8,250 per player.  That’s not to say that those current members received that scholarship money.  Athletic administration spent $38,050 in association dues and $26,041.96 on vehicle rentals which was $15,941.96 over what was budgeted.  

    While numbers could be thrown out all day, again, these numbers are based on the fiscal year 2014 reports and administration has changed since then.  The numbers chosen to report also aren’t a suggestion that these costs should be cut or that the university shouldn’t provide scholarships or other equipment for our students.  Instead, it’s meant to give an insight on the types of things the university has budgeted for in the past.  Debates can be had about where money should be spent, and where it shouldn’t be spent, but the real solution in this case is finding a way to find funds to re-open the pool, even if it means cutting some budgets by a little as opposed to closing down facilities or completely defunding programs. 

    Dr. White, Professor of Political Science, said in an email to the Concordian and others sent on Oct. 24 that “if we at Concord University are really worried about enrollment, particularly in light of the impending arrival of WVU to our region, the first thing we should do…is re-open the pool.”  

    He ended his email with these encouraging words: “we Concord University social scientists know, theoretically and practically, that chlorinated water and social capital were both drained from the pool earlier this month. Like most academics, we’re generally a contentious bunch, but we voted unanimously at our Division [of Social Sciences] Meeting on Oct. 7 to urge the Concord University administration to re-open the pool by November 1, 2015. It looks like that date will be missed, but we have hope and confidence that prudence will prevail. Our kids need for us to be good stewards of the resources we have.”

    If interested in seeing the budget, it can be checked out at the campus library.  While the administration still haven’t changed their decision to temporarily close the pool, students, faculty, staff, and community members can still contact Dr. Boggess at to express their concerns about the closing of the pool if they have any.

Editor’s note: At the time of this publication, Dr. Boggess was unable to be contacted for comment. 

At the time of this publication on Oct. 8, Dr. Charles Becker, Vice President for Business and Finance, gave the following statement: “We do not maintain a separate revenue and expense budget for the swimming pool.”

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