Try 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.