The Student Association’s Senate Finance Committee (SFC) passed a $20 increase per student in segregated fees, which plans for new initiatives throughout campus such as Union restoration and Bublr bike stations.
The SFC voted during their meeting Thursday night that each student pay $668.60 in segregated fees per semester in the 2015-16 school year.
The committee originally planned to raise segregated fees about 11 percent, but was thrown a curve ball when they were told the Board of Regents likely would not approve anything more than a 3 percent increase. They were forced to cut over $280,000 ($10 per student) of what they previously planned to allocate between different departments on campus.
The SFC managed to budget around the capitol Student Union Project, which will collect about $364,000 by the end of the fall 2015 semester, and Bublr bikes,which are expected to cost the campus $360,000.
The proposed new student union is still in pre-design stage and has to yet be approved by the state legislature. The Union staff plans to seek approval by summer, but the fee will go towards restoration regardless of the official decision on a new Union building.
“The idea is that if we put a down payment on the Union then the Board of Regents won’t say no,” Senate Finance Chair John Thorton said during their meeting.
The committee worked cuts into the parking & transportation budget. The office received about $168,000 less in this budget than last year’s, due to the fact that the office has over $1 million in reserve funds.
“They’re sitting on a hefty pile of money so we wanted to run down their reserves,” Student Association President Ryan Sorenson said.
The office of parking & transportation may use the funds as they see fit, but the Student Association wrote a memo to the office recommending they use their budget for Bublr bikes.
“We can tell them ‘no we’re doing Bublr.’ We’re not going to pay extra money for parking,” Vice President of Student Affairs Evan Braun said.
The Student Association said they are also looking into changing free parking on campus. The idea is it would no longer be a fee that all students currently pay, and instead be a fee that only students who plan to use parking would pay.
The athletic facilities department is looking to gain approval for a new basketball practice facility with a $1 million donation, along with the over $2 million previously allocated to fix the Klotsche center before the panthers moved to their arena location downtown.
The new facility is projected to cost $11.8 million. The athletic facilities fund will receive just over $400,000 in fall, which is about 40 percent lower than their allocation this semester of $600,000.
The Student Association broke up the Office of Student Life budget, and allocated to each department individually. Many of those offices are currently in debt.
“A lot of the departments that were in the red last year were from the Office of Student Life portion of the budget, and the thing with that was they would just move money around,” Sorenson said. “We decided that probably is not an effective way to manage money.”
The Office of Student Life Administration, Women’s Resource Center, and the LGBT Resource Center are projected to end the year with debts of about $111,000, $53,000, and $9,000 respectively. In next semester’s budget they will receive $179,000, $183,000, and $154,000 respectively
The Center for Community-Based Learning, Leadership & Research is projected to end this year with a deficit just over $110,000. They requested $228,200 in segregated fees, but the student association allocated them about $28,000 less.
“They have the largest increase and they have one of the largest deficits,” Braun said. “I think they need to work on a leaner budget and learn how to manage their books better.”
The Student Association was a little more giving to other organizations on campus. The Inclusive Excellence Center, which is estimated to end this semester with $12,000, requested $112,000 for next semester’s budget and received over $50,000 more than that.
“It doesn’t really make sense for them to have a cut when… they are looking to expand,” Braun said. “We want to encourage them to expand and keep their doors open longer since they’re one of the lower funded offices.”
Centers like Be On the Safe Side (B.O.S.S.) and the Neighborhood Housing Office (NHO) both had better outcomes than expected for their budget this semester.
B.O.S.S., the most expensive student life department, is about $85,000 in debt, but because of low gas prices the budget committee felt they could keep the allocation at the same price for next semester at about $395,000.
NHO is projected to finish this semester with a surplus of about $30,000, and will receive about $23,800 less than their last budget of $107,000.
Sorenson said the SFC budgeted properly that students would not have to trade or lose any aspects of student life in the coming semester.
“I hope not,” Sorenson said. “It’s really up to the departments on how they’re going to manage their budgets, and on our end we’re going to do our best to be sure departments are still providing their services to students.”