Budget cuts shouldn’t hurt A&S fees

Every semester students pay a $7 Activity and Service fee that helps keep some of USF’s student organizations afloat. And each year, Student Government reviews budget proposals from these student groups and then decides how much money to give to each.

The mission of the A&S fund, as stated on the SG’s Web site, is to “provide USF students the opportunity to interact and participate in various campus projects, programs and services that are intended to enhance morale and spirit and the overall university experience.”

David Armstrong, Student Government’s business manager, said the A&S budget was approximately $6.8 million last year. But he said the size of the fiscal budget for this year’s A&S fund has yet to be determined because the SG deadline was Friday, and they are waiting to hear from the enrollment plan management to give them a number of expected enrollment for next year.

“So far we have only received about 15 budgets,” Armstrong said. “Everyone tends to wait until the last minute to bring them in. Yet, we have had a lot of people coming in asking questions about A&S.”

Armstrong said SG increases the amount of money it allocates between zero and 5 percent each year. The statewide budget cuts for this year will not affect A&S funding unless the enrollment of students or the price per credit hour is affected, Armstrong said.

“There is a $7.10 activity service fee per credit hour, and there is also a $7 fee,” he said. “If a student doesn’t take the same amount of credit hours, or if enrollment was to go down, it would affect how much money SG would bring in to allocate.”

Armstrong also said there is a unallocated reserve account that the SG uses as a buffer in case enrollment is affected in any way or in case the budget cuts decrease or increase enrollment.

“If enrollment goes up, and there is a short in money, the reserve will help us not cut into organizations’ budgets in the middle of the year,” he said.

Armstrong said he thinks they have done a good job with not raising any fees.

“The flat fee was raised in the year 2000 because we wanted to cover operation costs for four years, which meant we wouldn’t have to raise the fee for another four years,” he said. “But I think we have been conservative enough to stretch that (past four years).”

Armstrong said SG doesn’t usually spend more than the previous year’s total budget, but whatever money is not used by student organizations this year will get swept into the unallocated account and be used the next year. As of Thursday, there have been 25 requests for interim funding for this fiscal year, Armstrong said.

“Eighteen or 19 of those are student organizations, and a couple of them are SG projects,” he said. “The total of those requests is $132,000.”

There are about 165 student organizations on campus, and each are able to apply for A&S funding or funds from SG. After the business branch receives all applications, The Activity and Service Recommendation Committee makes suggestions for the allocation of the A&S fee money to the SG senate.

“A committee member will be meeting with different groups at a time to go over their proposed budget and then relates back to the senate to answer additional questions,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong said the committee has already seen some presentations from Student Affairs and the SG agencies that had turned in their proposals in December.

“Basically they come in and give a presentation and talk about their budget, their payroll, certain projects etc.,” he said. One organization, the Public Relations Student Society of America was not able to get A&S funding this year.

“We applied but were declined,” Kelly Page, faculty advisor for the organization, said.

“They told us because we receive member dues and are part of a national organization we are not eligible for funding,” Page said.

The USF chapter for PRSSA gets a small amount of the member fees from its national affiliate, which Page said doesn’t help an organization with a low budget.

“I feel we are caught in a catch-22. We have such a low budget and no A&S funding. We had to hold external fundraisers to help us for a while,” Page said.

PRSSA had received more than a $1,000 in last year’s A&S allocations.

Seth Rients, assistant station manger at WBUL, said the radio station isn’t getting hit as hard as other organizations because it brings in its own revenue and is slowly growing independent from A&S funding.

“Our budget that was allocated to us this year was about $12,000, yet we requested close to $96,000,” Rients said. “This year we requested $32,000, but in all actuality we will get $10,000.”Rients said WBUL requested a new computer and other materials to help maintain the station.

The Crew club at USF is also another A&S funded organization. With about 20-30 continuous members, the organization needs a lot of new materials to help participate in competition.

Crew club requested for a lot of materials for their boats, but presumes it will more then likely receive $1,200 for travel expenses, Yates said.