CLINTON, Miss. (BP)–Mississippi College in Clinton will reduce next year’s operating budget by approximately 9 percent and maintain salaries at present levels to account for mistakes in expenditure and revenue projections, the Baptist-affiliated school’s president has announced.
Howell W. Todd said in a prepared statement that a total review of the procedures for formulating budget projections is under way to ensure the situation does not repeat itself in the future.
An exact amount of the shortfall has not been released by the college, but observers estimate it to be between $2 million and $3 million.
“No money is missing and there is no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of anyone,” Todd said. “It is simply a mistake by the budget office.
“If we had realized the mistake earlier, much of this belt-tightening could have been avoided. We could have adjusted the spending early on. We consider this a one-year shift, and we expect to be back on track after this one-year adjustment,” Todd said.
MC received a total of $2,408,953.75 last year in Mississippi Cooperative Program gifts given by Mississippi Baptist churches and budgeted by messengers to the Mississippi Baptist Convention.
In addition, the school received $415,909.02 from the challenge portion of last year’s Mississippi CP budget. The challenge portion is composed of CP gifts over and above the amount needed to meet the annual budget.
MC is scheduled to receive $2,583,948 in Mississippi CP gifts for the year 2000. The challenge portion of the 2000 CP budget cannot be calculated until after the end of the fiscal year in December.
MC trustees are jointly appointed by MBC messengers and the school’s trustees.
Kermit McGregor, president of the Mississippi Baptist Convention and pastor of First Baptist Church, Mendenhall, pointed out that the school’s trustees are responsible for the policies, programs and procedures of the institution.
“I am sure that the trustees and administration will make every effort to assure alumni, donors, faculty, students and friends that stewardship accountability principles will be maximized to find out what contributed to this latest development. I urge all affected individuals not to rush to judgmental verbalizations and/or accusations.
“Every effort should be made toward continued financial aid to students, but with equal emphasis on compensatory remuneration for faculty members who have been extraordinarily faithful through ‘thick and thin’ years,” McGregor said.
Frank Harmon, chairman of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board’s executive committee and pastor of First Baptist Church, Newton, said, “While I regret that MC finds itself in a financial belt-tightening because of inaccurate projections, I have confidence that Dr. Todd and the board of trustees will work together to find a solution that will neither harm students or faculty, and one that will preserve the integrity of the institution and Mississippi Baptists.”
Jim Futral, executive director-treasurer of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, which is charged with disbursing CP funds to the state’s Baptist agencies and institutions, said, “It is impossible to make a fair evaluation without full information. While an investigative audit is taking place, the initial indications are that projected growth and income exceeds reality.
“While we all rejoice over the progress that has been made at the college, Mississippi Baptists are concerned about the ‘how, who, why, and how much’ related to this matter. For the present we will pray, listen and help where we can in hopes that neither faculty, nor students, nor the future of the college might be impeded,” Futral said.