Enrollment not decreasing…but ASUU budget is

While the Associated Students of the University of Utah is budgeting less money for the coming academic year, it is not due to a decreasing enrollment, said U administrators.

ASUU has reported received steadily decreasing funding since the 2001-2002 academic year, even though the number of students paying student fees has increased.

The three who account for ASUU’s budget were confused Monday about the discrepancy.

ASUU Accountant George Lindsey began looking into ASUU’s funding and comparing the numbers with the enrollment trends soon after The Chronicle asked about it.

“It doesn’t make sense,” Lindsey said.

ASUU’s Student Financial Director Brian James was also confused about the $50,000 decrease in budget, leaving ASUU with about $1.35 million.

“The $1.35 million number came to us from [Associate Vice President for Budget and Planning] Paul Brinkman,” James said. “We were under the impression that enrollment was going down. That’s the only thing that could affect it.”

Brinkman agreed.

“I wouldn’t have expected much change [in their budget],” he said. “I would’ve expected [funding] would’ve gone up rather than down.”

Brinkman brainstormed “wrinkles” in the system that could account for the situation. He determined the timing of the Summer Semester could help explain the variation.

The fiscal year is split on July 1, which means if more classes occur prior to July 1, more money will go toward the previous year’s government. If Summer Semester begins later, more of the funds will go toward the following year’s government.

“I warned people we’ve got to watch out for this, you’ll think you’re in great shape then you realize we got an extra week’s worth of revenue in the vicinity of 20 to 25 grand,” Brinkman said.

While neither Lindsey nor anyone else in ASUU understands why the funding is decreasing, they are all feeling the impact.

Because ASUU’s revenue had not met its budgeted funding, it had been forced to draw from a general reserve fund. That fund, however, is approaching its bare minimum $50,000 as legislated by Redbook, ASUU’s constitution.

“Ideally we’d like to see $80,000 as a minimum in the general reserve,” said ASUU Vice President-elect John Poelman.

But that fund has whittled down to about $50,200, said ASUU Chief of Staff Patrick Barnes. As a result of ASUU’s financial hardships, Lindsey said they decided to budget “more realistically” for the coming 2005-2006 academic year.

“We looked at the trends and talked to the administration,” Lindsey said. “We decided to budget $1.35 million as opposed to $1.4 million as we had in past years just to be on the safe side. We hadn’t met the budgeted $1.4 million in actual revenue for the past two years.”

During an ASUU Senate meeting last Thursday, Poelman and James presented their budget for the 2004-2005 academic year, saying they were budgeting $50,000 less due to “decreasing enrollment at the U.”

However, administrators said the administration is not projecting such a change.

“Enrollments have been pretty consistently up and we have no reason to believe they’ll be down in the fall,” said Fred Esplin, vice president for university relations.

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