First eight budgets presented to Senate
February 21, 2013
Of the 15 Facilities and Fees budgets, nine are requesting an increase in the total segregated fees paid by each UW-River Falls student. In all, over $100 in fee increases have been requested so far.
At the Student Senate meeting on Feb. 19, eight organizations presented budgets and their reasoning for maintaining or increasing the fee that students pay to each organization. The remaining seven budgets will be presented at the Feb. 26 meeting. Of the eight that have presented, four are requesting an increase.
Facilities and Fees Chair Dominic Riel said the presentations were to give the senators more background information on the budgets so they can be better prepared for when Senate votes on the actual budgets on March 5.
While the fee increases ran from 25 cents to $110 per academic year, depending on the organization, Riel said it is important for students to understand these budgets as they will have a direct impact on the amount of money each student pays.
“All of these budgets are supported by student segregated fee dollars,” Riel said. “So, even if you use never use a program or use it 100 times, each student pays the same fee.”
While formal arguments for and against each budget will be debated on March 5, during the presentations each organization cited the declining enrollment at UWRF for a reason for requesting additional funds.
The declining enrollment means that less students are contributing to the segregated fees and therefore there are less funds for the facilities and fees organizations. For example, Hunt Arena is projecting a loss of $26,000 next year. This comes from an enrollment projection of less than 6,000 students for the 2013-2014 school year. That is down from the nearly 6,500 students that are currently enrolled, according to the Admissions Office.
Steve Stocker, the director of Recreation and Sports Facilities, has worked with the Facilities and Fees board to recommend a 3 percent increase in the Hunt Arena segregated fee. Under Stocker’s proposal, the fee would increase $1.25 to a total amount of $43.25 a student per year. The Hunt Arena fee goes to support the upkeep of Hunt Arena, ice rental, open skating and more.
At the Senate meeting, Stocker stressed how the increase was requested to keep student fees low, but to also help provide quality programs.
The dining services committee chair, Anthony Sumnicht, echoed this sentiment when he requested a 5 percent increase for dining services that would be added to the cost of meal plans. The request would equate to an extra $55 per semester for a 14 meals per week plan and $56 for a 19-meal plan.
Sumnincht said that the 2013 Cost of Consumable Goods Index is 3 percent, and thus the cost of food alone would require a 3 percent increase. That does not include labor or operating expenses. Sumnicht also said that contributions from dining services also has gone to projects such as Cascade, the Campus Mall, utility upgrades and road improvements.
Although Sumnicht concluded the increase in fees would increase the quality of food provided, several Senators questioned if there would be oversight or a guarantee that food quality would increase. The Senate will debate questions that leave doubt or uncertainty March 5. The Senate meets at 7 p.m. Tuesdays in the Willow River Room of the University Center and meetings are open to the public.
Sumnicht also noted that of the 13 four-year UW institutions, UWRF has consistently ranked lowest for cost and daily rate, which is the rate paid to the contractor to feed each student.
The budget that got the loudest sound of approval was for Textbook Services. Currently, each UWRF student pays $143.30 to rent textbooks instead of purchasing them outright. Several Senators said this saved them approximately $500 a semester. Textbook Services is not requesting a fee increase as they requested the fee stand at $143.30.
Other organizations requesting an affirmation of their segregated fee include the Creative Hours Learning Development (C.H.I.L.D.) Center that stands at $21, the Student Life budget that has a fee of $85 a year, and the intramural complex fee that stands at $8 per year.
Kinni Outdoor Adventures requested the smallest increase thus far at 25 cents. This fee increase is to help launch a new offering, which includes bike repair service and a bike rental program. Senator A.J. Hansen noted that UWRF is one of the most biker-friendly campuses in the UW System and that by offering bike services students will be able to utilize the trails on campus.
The final request presented before Senate on Feb. 19 was a 54 cent increase for intramural programs to help with administrative support since they now have to support 15 percent of salaries and fringe.
Now that the presentations have been made, Senate will discuss and ultimately vote on each organization’s budget. Each budget will then be forwarded to Chancellor Dean Van Galen for approval.
The remaining budgets that will be proposed include: the University Center, Career Services, Recreation and Sports Facilities, among others.