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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Budget cycle restarts again on UW-River Falls campus

Published November 15th, 2012

The allocable fees budget process has begun with student organizations attending trainings, completing and submitting budgets, and the Allocable Fees and Appropriations Board (AFAB) preparing for another budget cycle that will result in a completed budget in the spring.

AFAB Chair Kayla Edstrom explained that the process is already going very well as organizations seem to have a better understanding of the requirements after attending trainings and looking over the budget guidelines.

“Organizations came to the trainings and seemed to really have a good grasp of the process. I have really only received some small questions that are easy to answer and there doesn’t seem to be any major issues so far.”

The money allocated to student organizations by AFAB comes from student segregated fees paid by students every year. According to the Student Affairs web page, the allocable fee paid by each student for the 2012-2013 school year is $34.19. This fee supports mainly student-organized activities.

There were two major changes made during the 2011-2012 school year that will affect the budget process this year. One change was the decision to allow dues-charging organizations to submit budgets. Student Senate advisor Paul Shepherd said that the focus really is on the Greek organizations as dues-charging organizations.

“There are other organizations that charge dues to its members, however the main point of discussion when the motion was passed was about the Greek organizations.”

Shepherd said that only two Greek organizations submitted budgets and were approved for money last year and that is not surprising as it was really the first year, but there may be more requests for funding this year which means more decisions for AFAB.

Student Senators and Alpha Gamma Rho officers Elliot Kahn and Derek Johnson explained that the National organizations for fraternities and sororities offer leadership conferences, recruitment schooling and conventions, but when money comes out of the members’ pockets to attend these events, it limits some of the people who can go and benefit from them.

“We are all college students. We can’t all afford to pay to go to events and if we are paying into the segregated fees too, we should have an equal opportunity to apply for a budget,” said Johnson.

The second major change was the decision to take any money not used by organizations at the end of the year and put it back into the allocable fees budget instead of into the reserve account where it had gone previously. This will help to increase the pool of money available as the biggest challenge for AFAB is that it always receives requests for a substantially larger amount of money than is available.

The budget process for student organization funding has several steps. Organizations have already attended budget trainings, and now the next step is to submit the completed budget request forms by the deadline. Edstrom said that one thing that has made it easier for organizations is that everything is done online through OrgSync this year.

After the deadline has passed, there will be a process of review by AFAB which begins in early December and continues until spring semester before the initial budget requests are sent to the Senate sometime in February. If there are no appeals, the final approval from Senate will be by mid-late March and letters will be sent to organizations informing them of the final allocations, according to a timeline in the 2012-2013 AFAB budget request form.

There are limitations on what can and cannot be funded through allocable fees. These limitations are defined in the University of Wisconsin System Financial Policy 50, or F-50, and stated specifically in the 2012-2013 budget training documents.

Funding can go to things like operations, activities and programs by recognized student organizations, concerts and lectures, operating/overhead costs of student government, university newspaper, radio, television, etc.

Some of the things that cannot be funded include: academic credit-producing activities, student services considered “essential to basic mission of the University” and personal food or advisor expenses.

The first thing that AFAB does after budgets are submitted is to go through and cut out all the things that cannot be funded. The information given at the trainings is intended to help reduce the number of requests that cannot be funded by making organizations aware of them.

When it comes to writing budgets and speaking at budget hearings, Edstrom stressed the importance of student organizations to be as detailed as possible.

“You can never say too much. We want to know everything about your organization’s events and therefore you have to be very detailed in your descriptions. This allows us to really be able to understand what you are asking for and then better allocate funds.”

The deadline for budget requests is 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012.

Any budgets submitted after the deadline will be automatically denied. For more information or questions contact Kayla Edstrom at kayla.edstrom@my.uwrf.edu.

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