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Proposed budgets from 11 committees to go before Student Senate

Published February 14th, 2013

The Facilities and Fees Board (F & F) at UW-River Falls will be meeting to discuss and approve the budgets of 11 campus departments.

The F & F board oversees the student advisory committees on campus. It reviews and recommends policies and budgets proposed by the Student Advisory committees and once the F & F board passes them, they are sent to Student Senate.

After Senate discusses and votes on the proposed budgets, they are given  to Chancellor Dean Van Galen for the final stamp of approval or denial.

However, the F & F board is somewhat in a bind right now as it waits to hear what the governor and state legislature’s decision is on passing a 2 percent pay increase that will affect essentially all university employees.

“The Facilities and Fees Board is taking steps to make sure students still have a voice in the budgets if a pay plan is introduced out of session,” said Dominic Riel, chair of the Facilities and Fees Board. “It’s very cloudy due to budgetary constrictions that we don’t have control over.”

Riel said that right now he is unsure of what kind of budgets will be proposed to the F & F board, but he expects that there could be some organizations that will be prepared with two types of budgets as a precaution. One budget can include the 2 percent increase and one without.

One department that will be proposing a budget to the F and F board is Dining Services and they are hoping for an approved budget to make some important changes.

Anthony Sumnicht, chair of the Dining Services Advisory Committee, said that although there is a chance of a 2 percent pay increase, it would not have much of an impact on Dining Services as most employees are employed by Sodexo and not the University.

On Feb. 6, the Dining Services Advisory Committee approved a 5 percent increase in cost.
“We decided a 5 percent increase would be better for students,” Sumnicht said. “It will go into improving quality, flexibility, variety and better value of the meal plans overall.”
Sumnicht said that if the budget is passed, the 5 percent increase students will pay will go back into benefiting students for their meal plans.

Some of the possibilities that are being discussed are increasing the quantity of cold transfer meals and the options offered, transfer meals through retail dining and opening up the meal time sessions to fit more students’ schedules.

The budget also could cover new chairs for Riverside Commons, silverware and cups.
Even with the 5 percent increase in cost for students, UWRF would still be the cheapest compared to others in the UW System, according to Dining Services’ projections.
The 14 meals per week plan for the 2012-2013 year at UWRF, per semester costs $1,104.50 and will cost about $1,160 with the 5 percent increase.

UW-La Crosse is assumed to have a 3 percent increase in Dining Services cost for the 2013-2014 school year and will have an approximate cost of $1,417.

Other campus departments looking for their budgets to be approved are Student Life and the Residence Hall Association (RHA) that can determine what the cost of housing will be for next year in Residence Halls.

Waiting for the outcome on the pay increase is a challenge because budgets have to be completely done by April so that the new Senate will be prepared for next year.

Although April is coming up quickly, Riel said the budget process is still in its early stages.

“There still may be change in adjustments as budgets go through this process,” Riel said.

“Student review of budgets are expected to be complete by early March.”

Riel said that this process is important and they want to keep students informed and make sure they have a voice in what budget plans are.

“Facilities and Fees and Student Senate are very aware of making sure that students have a loud voice in the budget and in their segregated fees,” Riel said.

Students can voice their opinions about the proposed budgets at the Senate meeting held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19 in the Willow River Room in the University Center.

At the meeting the first group of committees present their budgets. Representatives from all committees will be able to answer questions from the Senate and any students who may have concerns.

There will be three more meetings for the remaining committees to make their presentations. They will be held on Feb. 21, 26 and 28.

“Making sure students are able to stay informed is important,” said Riel.
Students can find out when meetings are by checking the corkboard next to the C-Store in the UC, which is near the ride share board.

“All of the governing bodies are required to post their agenda at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting to the public,” Riel said.

Students can also check the red binder at the Involvement Center Desk in the UC to stay up to date on meetings and agendas.

For other questions, Riel said he welcomes anyone to contact him if they are interested in knowing information about a certain budget and meeting time.

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