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New staff member to help allocable budget process

February 21, 2013

The UW-River Falls Allocable Fees and Appropriation Board could be gaining a professional staff member to help student organizations manage and obtain their money.
This financial specialist position has not been officially approved, but it would theoretically assist AFAB leaders and student organizations by helping them manage their money.

It can also help with account management for Student Life and Falcon Programs, said Paul Shepherd, director of Student Life.

The current person who has been helping students with AFAB requests has been Rocio Bonilla Madrigal, the student organizations budget graduate student intern.

She said that the three or four hours she works per day is not enough to keep up with the demand that has been created by the roughly 70 organizations that have requested money.
She meets with student organization leaders, normally the presidents or treasurers, to help them receive the money that they have been approved for by discussing what the money will be used for and how to get reimbursed.

That reimbursement factor is one that Shepherd said is something he hopes students can fully understand.

Before the position that Bonilla Madrigal currently holds was created two years ago, student organizations did not have a point person for their questions.
Professional staff in Student Life fielded those questions.

Some of the questions included, “OK you’re telling me I have this money but where is that money? How do I go and get it? Should I just go out and spend money and then hope to get reimbursed somehow?” Shepherd said. “There’s a lot of confusion sometimes and a lot of uncertainty around that whole process.”

Those are questions that Shepherd said have been answered after hiring Bonilla Madrigal and hopefully will continue to be answered when the new staff member is hired.
This staff member will also work closely with the AFAB board of student representatives that approve student organization budgets.

“They’re kind of like an advisor to us if we have questions or things like that, but it’s the students that decide where that money goes and then it’s their job to kind of help the students get that money from that point,” said AFAB Chair Kayla Edstrom.

This year the board has been made up of more new student senators than in years past, along with more at-large students, which can offer “a lot of diverse perspectives,” Shepherd said.

The funding for this position, if it is approved, will be coming from the Student Life budget and $12,000 will be paid for out of the Senate operating costs budget.

Senate is able to provide that amount of money because Senate President Bobbi O’Brien took the time to efficiently restructure their operating budget to plan more intentionally where their money is going and how it is being spent.

After the budget was re-evaluated, this money was put toward the new position that would help out AFAB and student organizations, a direct tie to Senate.

Last year, another committee was formed to distribute money in a reserve account to student organizations that wanted to make bigger purchases that would not have been possible through their normal AFAB budget allowances.

For example, this money made the Duck’s Unlimited duck pond restoration and the purchase of updated equipment for campus media possible.

Some organizations that requested and had money approved for different things through this budget had that money taken back because it was never spent. That money returned to the reserve account and will stay there until Senate approves that so it can be redistributed. That money will not be included in this budget season’s base of funds to distribute to student organizations, said Shepherd.

Senate has approved the funding for the position.