Missouri Southern State University will wait to formalize the budget for its next fiscal year until more is known about expected state funding cuts.

The budget/audit committee of the university’s Board of Governors met Thursday and set a date of Aug. 12 by which to have the next year’s budget drawn up. 

Rob Yust, vice president of business affairs, said that the governor has told universities to expect at least 10% in cuts because of the economic downtown caused by the coronavirus. That amount is roughly $2.1 million for MSSU, he said.

Without a clearer financial picture, Yust said, determining a budget is too difficult. That news is expected from the governor’s office sometime in July, he said.

Other factors, such as the upcoming arrival of new university President Dean Van Galen, were cited as reasons for delaying the budget, which is usually approved in June before the start of the fiscal year on July 1.

The university is operating under a budget for the current fiscal year that in June 2019 had anticipated revenues of $84.87 million and total expenditures of $84.2 million. That budget included about $25 million in state appropriations — about $23.3 million in core appropriations and about $1.8 million in a one-time allocation for STEM programs. 

In response to the economic downturn, Yust said, the state has withheld about $3 million of those appropriations. As for the upcoming year, Yust said every 10% of cuts is roughly about $2.1 million.

"We presume we are going to get a reduction next fiscal year," Yust said during the meeting. "We were told it would be significant, but we don't know what the definition of 'significant' is yet."

That means the university may face lean times. Ideas such as a second increase of tuition rates and other cuts were floated, but nothing was agreed upon. 

Board Chairman Bill Gipson said while the university's financial situation is discouraging, it has endured through similar circumstances before. 

"If you take a look at the financial market fallout of 2008 and 2009, that had similar impacts, and that was longer-lived," Gipson said. "What we learned from that we can use for this ... at the end of the day we have to have a viable business model where students want to attend and parents feel good about sending their kids."

In other business: 

• The board elected Alison Hershewe to chair the panel and Anita Oplontik as vice chair. Laura Boyd and Linda Eis were reappointed to their positions as secretary and treasurer.

• Outgoing MSSU President Alan Marble, attending his last meeting before retiring, was presented with several proclamations from government officials including Joplin Mayor Ryan Stanley. A video message from U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt was played during the meeting; proclamations from the Missouri House of Representatives, Missouri Senate and U.S. House of Representatives were also presented. 

Joe Hadsall is the digital editor for The Joplin Globe. He has been the editor of the former Nixa News-Enterprise and has worked for the Christian County Headliner News and 417 Magazine.

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