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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 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."

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 started the job in July 2015, he signed on to make $372,000 annually excluding benefits, according to Herald archives.

Anna Burleson

Anna Burleson is the higher education reporter for The Grand Forks Herald. She is a 2013 graduate of the University of South Dakota's Mass Communication program and is originally from Watertown, S.D. Contact her with story ideas or tips by phone, email or Twitter, all of which are listed below. Examples of her work can be accessed here.