(REUTERS) — University of Wisconsin officials project the athletic department will see a budget surplus of $407,398 for the 2002-’03 fiscal year, which would push the operating reserve to more than $6 million.

That bit of good news constituted the easy part of the UW athletic board’s Finance Committee meeting Wednesday.

The more daunting task will be tackled during the next month, when UW officials attempt to at least balance the 2003-’04 budget. If all the departmental requests were included in the 2003-’04 budget, the athletic department’s net operating margin would be $666,954 in the red and money would have to be withdrawn from the reserve fund.

Jamie Pollard, associate athletic director in charge of finance, insists that will not happen.

“The plan that the chancellor laid out when he went forward with the announcement of the Camp Randall [renovation] was that the [operating] margin stayed positive,” Pollard said. “So that is the goal to maintain or build upon the reserve.”

Pollard is scheduled to have a 2003-’04 budget proposal ready for the Feb. 26 meeting of the Finance Committee. The full athletic board is scheduled to vote on the budget two days later.

The requests from different departments total $798,851. Some examples are three new positions for academic services, with salaries and benefits totaling $158,400.

A request for $100,000 from the women’s basketball team for a trip to Italy this summer already has been turned down because of an indefinite moratorium on international travel.

“We’ll have a lot of work preparing and shaping the choices,” Pollard said. “I’ll prepare a menu of items and we’ll meet and go through them all to make decisions which ones are in and which ones are out.”