A Moral Dilemma

IMG_8727-1Try to place yourself in this situation and decide as the story unfolds just what you are thinking by asking yourself some questions. What is the right thing to do, am I making the morally correct decision and what should the consequence be for my actions?

You work for a large company, and you are in charge of a rather large department. Each year your boss asks you to put together a budget to run your department. You know there are things you need and some extras you would like, so you put a few extras in your request.

After the boss reviews and edits your budget it is given to you as approved and you are expected to run the department based on the budget. It is up to you to lead and direct spending in line with the budget as approved. Sometimes you get lucky and things come in under budget and sometimes well things go a little off the expected line and you go over a bit.

You know it is not your money to spend as you wish, but you did create the budget, got it approved based on priorities and expectations. Can and should you overspend in some areas knowing you have enough in other areas or should you get approval from the boss or financial department to transfer the extra money to cover the over spending first?

Now just a month or so before the end of the budget year you discover you have a windfall of extra money you have not yet spent in your budget. What is the right thing to do? (A) Should you let the money stay in the account and show a surplus at the end of the year, after all it is not your money and you know it should go back to the boss? (B) Spend the money on items you put into the next year budget knowing if you do that you are creating a surplus next year because you will have already procured the items in the budget or should the financial department or boss make that decision? (C) Spend the extra money this year on items not in the budget for next year but things that you think would be good to get now even if the boss did not have them presented in a budget?

If you were the boss how would you react to each of the choices above? If there was a surplus should it have been spent, or should the money go back to the boss and let the boss or financial department decide what should be done with the money? Would you be a happy boss if were a quarter million dollars spent?

Ok now that you have given that some thought exchange the parties, let the boss be the taxpayers, you are the Board of Education and the financial department is the Town Council. The above scenario is very real.

Last spring the Coventry Board of Education had a surplus, instead of returning the money to the taxpayers by having a surplus at the end of the year they spent the money. They purchased some computers that were in the next year budget and some that were not yet approved within a budget as a current need. The rest was also allocated. The original surplus seems to have been in excess of $250,000. The Town Council is asking questions………..The Board of Education is asking for more money.

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4 Comments

Filed under COMMENTARY, Coventry CT, COVENTRY GOVERNMENT ISSUES

4 responses to “A Moral Dilemma

  1. Matt OBrien

    Nice job.

    Fair questions.

    By the way, it appears the same thing happened in June 2014 and very likely even more $$ involved. They showed over $269,371k (?) projected surplus in May and then over the summer the superintendent remarked that the year ended even better than anticipated.

    Can’t find any documents of the transfers yet.

    Matt

  2. Yes, excellent questions to which I am not sure how I would answer. We want and need to educate our kids but at times I do wonder exactly where the monies do go.
    I guess one of my question would be is since we the taxpayer is not allowed to alter the Bd.of Ed. budget other then bottom line do we if have any say in a surplus? Do we just reduce next year’s budget by the surplus amount?

    Sorry it is in poor taste to answer a question with a question!

    Thank you!

  3. Roberta Dwyer

    Surplus should have been returned with discussion as to budget for the following year. If one department is doing well it should carry over to the company (town) as a whole. I’m sure if there had been a shortage the company (town) would have been impacted negatively and other departments would have been expected to pick up the slack.

  4. Bill Root

    We have always done it that way. Rationalization to justify poor action.
    If we give it back they will reduce what we get next year because we did not need it this year.
    If we purchase next years needs with this it will give us some wiggle room
    no matter what is in the budget next year.
    People enpowering themselfs because they don’t trust what will happen if they do the right thing and return it to system.
    We earned it because we managed well so we should be able to keep it.
    It is necessary for the boss to state a clear policy before the event happens.
    Then the boss can account better how to do what is best for total communitiy.
    The American Legion is given funds to run Memorial Day activities.
    They have never been denied what they request that I know of.
    They always return whatever amount is over their need.
    They appreciate what they are given and respect what it is given for. Any surplus is respectfully returned and we work well together in good faith.
    Respect and good faith benefits all.

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