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SBHE committee approves next fiscal year's budget

BISMARCK--The North Dakota University System Office and State Board of Higher Education budgets for next year have been reduced by $10.7 million. The SBHE Budget and Finance Committee unanimously approved a $72.2 million budget for fiscal year 20...

BISMARCK--The North Dakota University System Office and State Board of Higher Education budgets for next year have been reduced by $10.7 million.

The SBHE Budget and Finance Committee unanimously approved a $72.2 million budget for fiscal year 2017 at a meeting Friday, a more than $10 million decrease from the $82.9 million budget the year prior.

NDUS Chief Financial Officer Tammy Dolan said the decrease was due to a state-mandated budget cut affecting all state agencies and universities, known as an allotment.

The SBHE's budget for travel and per diem was also reduced from $100,000 to $90,000, as Dolan said the most that had ever been spent in the last six years was $87,000.

"I think as a board we have to be conscious of travel expenses and I think there are things we need to look at from a travel perspective," committee chairman Don Morton said. "I think perhaps in the past there has been some abuse we want to make sure doesn't occur."

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In 2015, Chief of Staff and Vice Chancellor for IT and Institutional Research Lisa Feldner said face-to-face SBHE board meetings cost an average of $5,000, including travel, lodging and staff. In total, the meetings cost $60,000 annually. Since then, the board has held at least one meeting via video conference.

The system office budget includes funds for salary increases averaging 3 percent. The full budget must still go before the full SBHE for approval.

Chancellor Mark Hagerott declined a salary increase for fiscal year 2017, Dolan said. When Hagerott took the job in April 2015 he signed on to make $372,000 annually excluding benefits.

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