BATON ROUGE, La. ― A new state audit of Grambling State University shows equipment thefts totaling more than $130,000 and an unbalanced budget with more total expenses than revenues in each of the five years analyzed.
According to the audit released Monday by the legislative auditor’s office, the thefts included plumbing units, air conditioners and water heaters taken from the football stadium, campus buildings and vacant housing facilities. The News-Star reports that one maintenance worker was arrested, confessing to thefts totaling $80,000.
Auditors advised the university to consider limiting key access, installing electronic card readers and security cameras, and increasing police patrols to mitigate its risk of loss.
Management agreed with the findings and recommendations and outlined a plan of corrective action.
“We acknowledge that internal controls were weak regarding the university’s vacant properties and after-hours building security,” said Grambling State interim President Cynthia Warrick.
Corrective action includes hiring risk manager James Austin, a retired chief of the Ruston Fire Department, to inspect all university buildings to ensure they are safe and property is intact, improving the university’s key control policy to incorporate better controls, stiffer fines for key replacement, limited key access and a reduction in the number of employees assigned a master key, and removing all moveable property from unused buildings to the university’s secured warehouse.
According to the analysis, total expenses have hovered above $100 million while revenues have dipped below $100 million each year.
In October, Warrick said GSU faces a $3.7 million deficit due in large part to decreases in enrollment.
Warrick will discuss her deficit plan Dec. 12 at the University of Louisiana System Board meeting. The current plan includes increases in faculty teaching loads, furloughs, a hiring freeze on noncritical vacant positions and possible closure of its laboratory schools.
Warrick also plans to ask the Legislature and Governor’s Office to address a $762,000 shortfall to keep Grambling Laboratory Schools open next fall.
Under the current plan, furloughs would include four days per month for higher-salaried employees and two days per month for lower-wage employees.
Her deficit plan would provide a total of $1.9 million in savings for the 2014-15 fiscal year and an annual cost savings of $4 million.
She said the deficit for this year stems from a decline in fall enrollment. A total of 4,504 students are enrolled, down by 11 percent over last year. The decline in tuition revenue is expected to be $3.7 million.
To make up for the decline, next fall GSU will need 1,860 new students.
Raising tuition is not an option, Warrick said.