$13.6 million A&S budget passes with little debate
Published: Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 01:04
The Student Government (SG) Senate unanimously voted to accept the nearly $13.6 million 2012-13 Activity and Service (A&S) Fee Annual Allocations — a more than $700,000 increase from last year’s budget.
The A&S budget, funded by a $7 flat fee and $11.28-per-credit hour fee billed to all students, was based on enrollment projections from the University that assumed no fee increase, despite the Board of Trustees’ recommendation to increase the fee by $0.43.
With 31 of the 58 senators present, the Senate floor had few questions or points for discussion during A&S Recommendation Committee (ASRC) Chairman Jeff Gao’s 30-minute presentation of the bill that allocated $9,160,410 to student programs and services, $2,681,381 to SG, $1,045,000 to reserve and interim accounts and $708,638 to student organizations.
“The power of SG and the Senate is in allocating the budget,” said SG Senate President Khalid Hassouneh, a senior majoring in medical technology, to the senators. “This is the biggest thing you’ll vote on. Make sure it counts. If it takes until 2 a.m., it takes until 2 a.m. Take all the time in the world.”
But it took less than an hour to pass the budget, which has been in the works since fall.
Some questioned a pay increase for the judicial branch’s supreme court justice, whose hours paid per week increased from 15 hours per week at $10.25 per hour to 20 hours per week at the same rate. James Bodden, Election Rules Committee chairman, said he pushed for the increase to attract better candidates to the position. SG Senate chairs also received a pay raise from 10 hours per week to 20 hours per week.
Muhammad Shakir, a junior majoring in political science and a senator from the College of Arts and Science, questioned the parity of the pay increases.
“How come senators don’t get paid?” he asked. “If we’re increasing other people getting paid, why aren’t senators being paid?”
The room resounded with approval.
Hassouneh said while he wasn’t against paying senators, it was a “battle losing steam.”
“Student Government at USF is very spoiled, or at least that’s what we’re told,” he said. “On paper, we look very spoiled, but in reality our perks are not (as much) as other schools. So, they look at us and they say too many of our staff is already paid, and by they I mean administration.”
SG’s executive branch saw an $11,614 decrease in payroll as a whole, which leaves $198,690 to be allocated within the branch.
The money cut from the executive branch’s payroll was moved to a “Special Projects” account, which was allocated $613,814 to fund the SG marketing department, an SG barbeque and TechSmart, the new printing services facility, among other projects.
SAFE Team saw an increase of $158,176 to their previous $273,956 budget to increase payroll and hire more personnel. The service was also turned from an SG agency, which is directly controlled by SG, into a bureau, which means it will be funded by SG but managed by University Police.
Bulls Radio’s existing $150,355 budget received a $52,055 increase for new equipment and news services.
“They wanted to hire more reporters and more staff,” Hassouneh said. “Any good radio station has a news department. Now they have this news element, and we looked at it and said it’s a great opportunity for students to participate.”
The 196 student organizations that received A&S funds this year received $413.81 more on average than the 249 student organizations funded last year received. The student organization budget decreased from $752,486 to $708,638, but Hassouneh said all medical-related organizations were grouped under the College of Medicine Student Council, which received $53,000 to distribute amongst the organizations.
Ten organizations that applied for funds did not receive them due to problems in their constitution or failure to adhere to ASRC guidelines and deadlines, Gao said. The Pre-Veterinary Society was granted A&S fee money, but rejected it.
At the end of each year, all money not used from allocations and all untouched reserve funds — 5 percent of which are mandated to be kept by law — are swept back into SG’s account as carry-forward cash. This year, SG carried forward $886,709 and expects to carry forward about $1 million next year.
“We like not to use those funds in case the roof blows in,” Hassouneh said.
The Senate also passed a bill earlier in the night that made all SG accounts, including auxiliary, special project and USF Foundation accounts, subject to the financial code that goes through the SG Business Office to provide oversight and accountability.