Friday, January 4, 2013

The burger and UA boondoggle open line

Posted By on Fri, Jan 4, 2013 at 3:15 PM

Thank goodness it's Friday. Back to routine next week. Finishing up:

* BIG ORANGE ROLLOUT: Big Orange, the boffo burger and salad place in The Promenade in Chenal, had confirmed to us earlier plans for a new outlet in the Midtowne center. They've made it official-er now with a Twitter today and and a target opening date of summer. Lindsey has details at Eat Arkansas.

* ARKANSAS SPORTS HALL OF FAME REPORTS THEFT: The Democrat-Gazette reports a North Little Rock police report of an apparent theft of $140,000 from the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. A former employee is suspected of tapping Hall money for personal purchases over a period of six years.

* DECOUPAGE FOR CHRIST: Mike Huckabee reaped a publicity bonanza by fanning the flames of anti-gay bigotry in support of Chick-fil-A. Now he has a new hobby horse, so to speak. He's hoping to stir up a similar outpouring of people who'll go to the fundamentalist-owned Hobby Lobby and buy lots of craft crapola as a show of support for the chain's defiance of the federal law that says private health insurance should cover a full range of preventive care for women. Preventive health care includes birth control pills. The Hobby Lobby owners don't approve religiously of contraception in the form of pills taken in the hours after unprotected sex. This is abortion in their view. Where a Chick-fil-A snack box became required trade dress for right-wing Republican outings, I guess a Hobby Lobby bag full of knitting supplies will now be required. Going to be a slightly harder sell, I'd guess, but never underestimate the Huckster.

* ACTIVE SHOOTERS IN SCHOOLS: The directors of the State Police and the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training talked today about establishing a committee of law officers and others to draw up a preparedness training plan for "active shooter situations" in schools. The aim is said to be a uniform plan statewide and available to school districts at the Law Enforcement Training Academy. Greenbrier schools hold such an exercise today. Ken Jones, the commission director, is leading the initiative.

* WEIRDNESS AT UAMS: So the woman who supposedly left UAMS as CFO to take a job in Tennessee is going to stay on the UAMS Foundation payroll for a year as a consultant at a tidy $312,120 and be available as needed for questions. That is a whale of a double dip, if she is indeed working somewhere in Tennessee. UAMS says she hasn't shared the name of her new employer with them. Stephens Media reports. Cue Twilight Zone.

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* BUDGET BUSTING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS: In a piecemeal fashion, I've been trying to get a better feel for how the University of Arkansas advancement division could run $3 million over budget. And how it could happen without a lot of people being aware of it. The explanations to date have been difficult to follow. Chancellor David Gearhart provided this explanation after Arkansas Business sniffed something was amiss in early December. Brad Choate, the $340,000-a-year head of the division and the division's chief financial officer were reassigned after the discovery. Some have criticized the UA for not firing the two.

Today, I pass along some information compiled at my request by John Diamond, the UA asssociate vice chancellor for university relations. It breaks down the deficit spending that was occurring in each of the major segments of the division. Expenses actually ran more than $5 million over budgeted amount, though the bottom line was $3 million over the budgeted revenue expected from the university's private foundation. Overpayment of salaries and wages — by more than $3.6 million in the university development division alone — drove the deficit. I'm trying to get more information about specifically how these sums were run up and for whom. But in the meanwhile, the division breakdown of deficit spending follows on the jump, along with some notes from Diamond in explanation of financial procedure.

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Note from John Diamond:

Attached is the additional budget information you requested on December 20. (As you know, the university was closed between Dec. 21 and Jan. 2.) A few important points to help explain the attachment:

1. It features the Advancement Division’s FY12 budget allocations to each of its main units. Those allocations, shown in the vertical budget column, consist of salaries and wages, the cost of fringe benefits, and their respective maintenance (operating) budgets. The unit budgets do not include intra-division transfers received over the course of the year from the Advancement vice chancellor’s centrally held funds and from the UA Foundation (Lines 41 and 64).

2. The Advancement Division funded two of its programs—the Annual Fund fundraising phonathon and Constituent Relations—within the Development Office budget in FY12 but those programs’ budgets were managed by the Division’s budget director.

3. The expenses column (column C) shows both the budgeted funds and additional funds approved and allocated over the course of the FY by the VC office. The sources of those funds were those held centrally by the VC and funds provided each quarter by the UA Foundation to augment the Advancement Division’s work.

4. As we now know, the Division office approved expenditures for its member units that collectively exceeded the Division’s available and anticipated FY 12 revenues. This situation occurred because the Division didn’t monitor and manage its financial resources accurately. Ultimately the Division expected to use funds for FY 12 that were due to be distributed from the UA Foundation for use in FY 13. Those actions created a major shortfall in the Division’s FY 12 balance. They also created a situation which, without changes, would have compounded the shortfall problem in FY 13.

5. Because of those factors, the Division does not have those resources to support its FY13 mission. Furthermore, the Division would have incurred an even greater deficit had this practice continued. Therefore, under the Chancellor’s direction, the Division is making budget adjustments to achieve a balanced budget at the end of this fiscal year.

6. The Division’s budget director used the VC office’s account to bridge quarterly reimbursements to the World Trade Center from the US SBA, which experienced delays in its reimbursements due to issues unrelated to the university or to the World Trade Center. The first of the SBA reimbursements were received in the second quarter of FY 13. Please keep in mind that the only university allocation or funding provided to the WTC is the $100,000 noted in the budget.

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