Falling U enrollment deals a blow to ASUU funding

By and

The Associated Students of the University of Utah had to reformat its budget for the coming 2005-2006 academic year to account for a $50,000 decrease in funding.

The reduced allocations are a result of declining student enrollment at the U. ASUU’s budget consists of student fees, therefore a drop in enrollment yields a drop in funding.

“Some places in our budget have to take cuts, it’s just a matter of where,” said ASUU Financial Director Brian James.

ASUU’s leadership cut $1,750 from their departments, $20,000 from student organizations and $170,500 from student government.

The Presenter’s Office took the biggest hit, as it lost $208,500, decreasing its percentage of the ASUU budget from 39 to 25.

However, due to recent reformatting when ASUU made separate funds for Presenter’s Office programming and salaries as well as cut the number of salaried directors from two to one, the office didn’t need as much funding as it had in the past.

“The number we have listed now [$337,500] is only programming, which is actually higher than it has been in past years,” said ASUU President-elect Ali Hasnain. “Before, all the operating and office expenses were lumped into one budget, but they took all those and put them into the office expenses for ASUU as a whole, so that part now also includes Presenter’s Office expenses, which it did not before.”

The incoming student government put $12,000 in Presenter’s Office Operating budget as a separate line item to clarify that money will be used to pay compensations and stipends for board chairpersons and vice-chairpersons, Hasnain said.

“This was the ideal time for us to take a hit in a year when we combined the Presenter’s Office and ASUU,” James said. “It brings ASUU and the Presenter’s Office under one umbrella, one budget, one audit and one phone system. And it’s just one step in many.”

One change that was met with no opposition and little discussion in the ASUU Senate meeting on Thursday was a $500 decrease in Senate Operating funds.

Student senators unanimously agreed to accept the budget, including a decrease to their funding.

“The Senate is a body of 16 compared to 48 in the Assembly and the budgets are almost the same,” said ASUU Vice President John Poelman. “Plus the Assembly has to pay $125 per meeting to use the Officer’s Club where there’s enough seating room.”

Not all ASUU-supported organizations are losing money as a result of decreased enrollment. Thanks to the $208,500 ASUU saved in Presenter’s Office Programming, many segments within the student government will be bolstered.

The most dramatic increases came in office operations where ASUU spent more to support additional staffers and support the Presenter’s Office merger.

ASUU maintained its $35,000 support for centralized child care because its $300,000 federal grant runs out this year.

In addition, the Student Broadcast Council has traditionally received $15,000 from ASUU, but said that money had not served their purposes. In response, ASUU allocated an additional $9,000 to the council, bringing the total to $24,000.

The Non-Traditional Student Board, which received $7,000 in the 2004-2005 academic year has been removed as an independent board. Instead, it will now be a part of the Diversity Board, which will receive an extra $5,000 to support the merger, bringing its total to $15,000.

ASUU also established two new Marketing branches, one dealing with operating and one with expenses. It allocated them $4,000 and $11,300 respectively.

ASUU allocated $8,800 to pay a lobbyist hired by the Utah Students Association to help garner funding from the Legislature.

ASUU also dedicated $30,000 toward a Special Projects Fund, which will be used to fund part of a Senior Class Gift.

The goal of the gift is to ultimately revamp the fountain just east of the Student Services Building and west of the Union.

It is too dangerous to fill with water because important cables run beneath it, so ASUU is attempting to turn the area into a small amphitheater.

The project will take more than one year’s worth of allocations to fund, but the $30,000 will pay a share of the cost.

The student government has not yet itemized its student organization funding because there are separate fall and spring deadlines by which student groups must file budget requests. Seeing that the fall deadline is in the distant future, the student government decided to itemize funding for those groups as requests come.

“Basically we would have been guessing what would be going to each organization without assessing how much is needed or being requested in each of those categories,” Hasnain said. “We’re not going to limit ourselves or make an assumption. We’d rather wait until requests come in fully and appropriate them accordingly.”

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