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Case 10-1 Ethics Case: Columbus Park-Waste Treatment Facility

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Case 10-1 Ethics Case: Columbus Park-Waste Treatment Facility

Executive summary

At the Columbus Park-Waste Treatment Facility, it is time for managers to prepare the annual expense budgets for the upcoming year. Those budgets will help the company to properly allocate expenses and predict profitability. The budgets are also a performance measure and promotion opportunities. As a manager, Ann Taylor is also subject to the task. However, there has been a decrease of the city’s tax revenue and she is almost certain that the city’s controller will reduce the proposed budget by 10 percent.

Overview

Ann Taylor wants to get a promotion. Considering that the budget might be reduced by 10 percent, she decides to propose a budget for an amount higher than the cost expected to be incurred. The manager estimates that her department could process some 9,000,000 gallons of waste. She anticipates that the waste could go up by 500,000 gallons and the cost of a new labor contract might increase by more than $300,000.

Issues addressed

The department costs are as follow:

  • variable costs at $0.20 per gallon
  • fixed costs at $2,400,000

Thus, the expense budget for the upcoming year should be:

Variable Costs ($0.20 × 9,000,000)

$1,800,000

Fixed costs

$2,400,000

Total Expense budget

$4,200,000

However, Ann Taylor considers that the waste could increase by 500,000 and a new labor contract could increase cost by more than $300,000. With this information, the new expense budget should be:

Variable Costs ($0.20 × 9,500,000)

$1,900,000

Cost increase

      300,000

Fixed costs

$2,400,000

Total Expense budget

$4,600,000

Despite the fact that she could submit a budget of $4,600,000, Ann Taylor decides to submit a budget of $4,900,000, which is $700,000 more than what she might need. She is deliberately padding the budget in order not to exceed it.

Suggested resolution

Ann Taylor should carefully rethink her consideration to introduce slack into her budget. Even though her only incentive is to get a promotion, she should propose a reasonable budget. Given the fact that Ann Taylor anticipates that a new labor contract and the waste could increase, she should submit a budget of $4,600,000 if she feels that she might incur those latter additional costs.

Conclusion

Ann Taylor’s action is unethical because her goal is to obtain a promotion. Budgets need to be close to actual costs.

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