Richard H. Cate

March 2018

A Message from Vice President Cate

As is the case every year, spring is the time when we prepare to present to the Board of Trustees Budget, Finance, and Investment Committee the proposed budget for the coming year. A great deal of time and preparation is involved leading up to the presentation but, in the end, it is an incremental process that only addresses one fiscal year. The incremental budgeting process is a major topic in the budgeting literature and is common practice in the public and nonprofit sectors, but we all know that it has many limitations. Although some of us consider long-term trends as we develop the one-year budget, it is not a strategic process because it does not cause all of the stakeholders to confront the realities of the long term in a comprehensive way.

Our work with Kaufman Hall last year to develop the strategic financial planning model and the implementation of the Axiom budget software were two integral steps necessary to enable us to move to a more comprehensive, long-term approach to budgeting. To that end, the President and the Provost have asked me to work with the deans and vice presidents to develop a list of strategic budget actions, both revenue enhancements and efficiency improvements, that can be implemented to help balance our budgets for FY 20, FY 21, and beyond. This activity will be ongoing throughout this spring and summer.

You have all likely heard my one simple message in regard to our budget on more than one occasion: Because our gross tuition price point is already comparatively high, we are not in a position to increase tuition enough to cover the cost of even modest inflation-related expense increases. The situation is further exacerbated by the fact that we are in the most competitive higher education market in the country, we are located in a very small state that has limited resources, and the supply of high school graduates in Vermont and the Northeast continues to decline each year. Thus, we must continue to look far beyond annual increases in undergraduate tuition for students in residence to an array of other revenue sources, and we must ensure that everything we do is done in an efficient manner.

Although our financial positon is relatively strong, there are clearly budget challenges before us. I am confident that we can address them but, in order to do so, we must be willing to think about the budget from a very different perspective, and we must all be well engaged in the process. I would ask that you all creatively support and advise your dean or vice president as they engage with me on this project to preserve the University for the long term by changing our budgetary situation.

Richard H. Cate, VP for Finance

Projects & Initiatives

  • 2019 NEASC Reaccreditation - Standard 7 Finance Resources Subcommittee
    The University is undergoing its reaccreditation review by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), UVM’s regional accrediting body. The Financial Resources subcommittee (Richard Cate - chair, Brian Cote, Jane Kolodinsky, Claire Burlingham, Mark Dorgan) of Standard 7, Institutional Resources, is tasked with conducting a self-study on how well we are preserving the institution for the long-term, how well we are operating in the short-term, and how accountable we are. Read more about Standard 7 and send your input to Emily Stebbins-Wheelock and Richard Cate.
  • Agency Funds Review
    The new GASB standard on Agency Funds (funds that other organizations give to UVM to hold on their behalf and use our administrative systems to manage) requires us to disclose each fund in our financial statement footnotes. To cut down the number of agency funds we have, Financial Reporting and Accounting Services (FRAS) will meet with units to discuss options on how to do so, including: (1) keeping the funds at UVM but charging an overhead fee for administrative services, (2) returning the money to the originator, and (3) closing the account and sending funds to the state of Vermont as abandoned property. Treating this money as unrestricted University money to spend on other purposes is unallowable per General Counsel opinion. Contact Lindsey Donovan.
  • Lease Administration
    The new GASB standard on Lease Administration requires that all leases or rental agreements with a term >12 months be capitalized and set up as an asset with offsetting liability, effective FY20. The first step is to inventory all existing leases and rental agreements (whether we are the lessee or the lessor). FRAS will be asking business managers to gather and scan/send copies of leases/agreements that apply, including those for space, photocopiers, equipment, UVMMC leases, etc. Contact Lindsey Donovan.
  • PeopleSoft FSCM Upgrade
    The PeopleSoft Financials upgrade from version 9.1 to version 9.2 is on track. The system will be down starting Thursday, April 12 at 5:00 p.m. and will reopen Monday morning, April 16. The most noticeable changes for end-users will be in the eProcurement (ePro) and Travel & Expense (T&E) modules. Of note:
    • References to “Vendor” will change to “Supplier” in ePro.
    • All Expense Report, Travel Authorization, and Cash Advance pages will have a different look. Instead of clicking to drill deeper into detail, all content will be accessible on one page by expanding/collapsing menu options.

In order to prevent transactions from being caught in the transition, no requisitions or expense reports will be able to be entered after April 5. April 9 will be the last day for departmental approval of expense reports. The system will reopen for normal use on April 16.

Information sessions, trainings, and open labs are scheduled from mid-March through April. Contact Cindy Lee.

  • Division of Finance (DF) website transition
    We are beginning to consolidate all DF-related websites (ABSC, FAB, OOE, and UFS/Controller) into one site organized by our major services, instead of by the Division's internal organizational structure. This change will provide a one-stop shop for our campus community and a more comprehensive resource for each DF service/function. The first phase of changes has already been implemented, with subsequent phases continuing throughout the spring and summer. We will continue to communicate upcoming changes and their impact on the campus community through the CATSkill and BFAN listservs, this newsletter, and UBA and BFAN meetings. Emily Stebbins-Wheelock and Cindy Lee are available to provide overviews/demonstrations to units upon request.

Updates & Announcements

  • New federal tax law changes: Effective January 1, 2018, the Tax Law and Job Cuts Act has the following impact on individuals, departments, and the University:
    • UVM individuals: The tax withholding tables have changed, and PeopleSoft HCM has been updated. Employees should see changes reflected in their February 2 (bi-weekly) and February 15 (semi-monthly) paychecks.
    • Departments: The biggest change is the taxability of relocation reimbursement. In the past, part of this was allowable/non-taxable. Effective 1/1/18, amounts paid to a new employee for the reimbursement or payment of relocation expenses, including payments made by the University to third parties on behalf of the employee (i.e. payments to moving companies), will be subject to federal withholding tax and FICA. If your department is hiring and providing relocation assistance, please note in the hiring documentation to the new employee that all relocation expenses will be fully taxable. All relocation payments will need to be paid through Payroll via an Additional Pay Form to be taxed accordingly using a new earnings code (429). The Relocation University Operating Procedure (UOP) is being revised to reflect these changes. We will review options with the UBA in March before finalizing the UOP. 
    • University-level: Activities subject to Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT) can no longer aggregated to offset gains with losses. Under the new law, each activity must be segregated: those with profits will have to pay UBIT, and those with losses will accumulate losses. Tax & Treasury Services will be working with units that have activities subject to UBIT. In addition, some fundraising activities may be affected; for example, when athletic tickets are given in exchange for a donation, the donation is no longer tax-deductible. Many other provisions for colleges and universities in the law do not apply to UVM because we are too small. Contact the Controller's Office at 656-2903.  
  • Cashier's Office name change: Effective immediately, we are rebranding the Cashier’s Office as “Treasury Services.” Traditional bursar’s and cashier’s offices rarely exist anymore and "Treasury Services" better aligns with the services we provide. Policies, signage, directories, etc. are being updated to reflect this change. Contact Tax & Treasury Services at 656-3462.  
  • Petty Cash Office hours, procedures: Effective March 1, the Petty Cash office approval hours will be 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays, and 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays. At that time, we will also require 24 hours' advance notice if your petty cash replenishment requires specific currency/denominations. This will allow Treasury Services time to place the cash order with the bank and have it ready for you to pick up. Contact Renee Hunt.  
  • FY18 Space & Equipment Inventory: The Inventory will be open on April 16, which is one month later than usual. Training dates are April 9 and April 12.
  • FY19-21 F&A rates: A rate agreement between the University and the Cost Allocations Services Unit within Health & Human Services has been approved for the FY 2019 – FY 2021 fiscal years. This agreement extends the current FY 2018 F&A rates through the FY 2021 fiscal year. F&A rates are used to charge sponsored agreements for their respective use of the University’s facilities and administrative services.
  • FY19 fringe benefit rates: Controller Claire Burlingham and the Cost Accounting Services team are finalizing a proposal for FY19 fringe benefit rates, which is due to the federal government at the end of February.
  • Uniform guidance micro-purchasing threshold: Purchasing Services and SPA are moving forward to comply with the expected Uniform Guidance micro-purchasing threshold of $10,000, effective July 1, 2018. This means that purchases greater than $10,000 on sponsored projects will be required to obtain rate quotations from multiple sources. Purchases not on grants will not be subject to this requirement because, based on prior year data, only 1.4% of all UVM purchase orders were on grants and between $10,000 and $25,000. Look for more communications through CATSKILL and BFAN listservs, BFAN meetings, and this newsletter. SPA also will be communicating directly with principal investigators. Forms, policies, user guides, etc., will be updated to reflect the new requirements. Contact Purchasing Services.
  • Contracts involving software use require additional review for IT security compliance. Purchasing Services and ETS are working on a Footprints workflow for this to coordinate review by multiple UVM offices. In order to pilot this, contracts that you send to Wendy Spargo for review may also be put into Footprints.
  • Staples paper pricing will increase between 5% and 8% in mid-March, which will amount to about $2 more per case. We encourage you to stock up now. As a reminder, 100% recycled paper is the most economical option, supports the University’s commitment to the environment, and positively impacts our AASHE STARS rating.


  • FY18 mileage rate: While the IRS increased the reimbursable mileage rate to $0.545 per mile effective January 1, 2018, UVM's mileage rate (currently $0.535) will not increase until July 1 since our budgets were built on the July 1, 2017 budget calculation. Rates will change on July 1, 2018 and will be incorporated in the FY19 budget assumptions for Income and Expense activities. Should UVM choose to leave reimbursed mileage at a rate higher than the IRS rate, the difference becomes taxable to the employee.

Important Dates & Deadlines

  • 3/1 – Petty Cash approval hours changing
  • 3/12 – Responsibility Center annual budget meetings begin. Forms due 7 days prior to meeting.
  • 3/12 – ePAR & salary distributions due for March 30 so they appear in March 30 payroll and are part of Axiom pull on March 30
  • 3/29 – BFAN meeting, Memorial Lounge, 1:00pm
  • 3/30 – Axiom load: HR/Finance data extracted and placed in Axiom
  • 3/30 –  I/E targets & guidelines to units
  • PeopleSoft Financials 9.2 Upgrade Dates:
    • 4/5 - Last day to submit expense reports and enter/submit requisitions
    • 4/9 - Last day for departmental approval of expense reports
    • 4/12 - Last day for Disbursement Center and Purchasing Services to process expense reports and reqs/POs
    • 4/12 - System closes at 5:00pm for upgrade
    • 4/16 - System reopens after upgrade 
  • 4/16 – FY18 Space & Equipment Inventory open (see below for training information)

Finance Policy & Procedure Updates

Under final review

  • Accepting Payment Cards & eCommerce Payments
  • Disposal of Surplus Property
  • Employee vs. Independent Contractor
  • Payments to Foreign Nationals & Entities (formerly Payments to Non-resident Aliens)
  • Cash Receipts, Securing & Depositing of UOP

Anticipated for spring UBA review & campus comment period

  • Business Meal, Hospitality & Amenity
  • Travel
  • Movable Equipment
  • Relocation UOP

See all University policies

FY18 BFAN Schedule

Final FY18 meeting:
Thursday, March 29 @ 1:00 p.m.
Memorial Lounge, Waterman 338 

Finance-related Professional Development Opportunities

  • UFS Roadshow - by request
  • edu@uvm workshops
    • Peoplesoft Financials 9.2 eProcurement module upgrade
    • Peoplesoft Financials 9.2 Travel & Expense module upgrade
  • Spring classes scheduled through Professional Development & Training
  • Advanced Travel
  • Approving Time for Non-exempt Employees
  • Axiom Annual Budgeting & Salary Planning Refresher
  • ERS Commitment Effort Software
  • Fun with Purchasing Contracts: Getting it Right & Getting it Done!
  • How Do I Make this Purchase?
  • Movable Equipment & Asset Control
  • PeopleSoft Basics
  • PeopleSoft Billing & Accounts Receivable 101
  • PurCard Reallocation Process
  • Space & Movable Equipment Inventory

DF Staffing News

Farewell to Cost Accounting Data Specialist Laurie Desso, Travel & Expense Specialist Jacob Nye, and to Treasury Management Professional Michelle Dudley.

Welcome! to Yajie Malinowski, Business Support Generalist in the Administrative Business Service Center starting March 5.