SG operations budget to see shift, increase

The Student Government (SG) operations budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year, which begins in July, will look a lot different from the 2009-10 budget. It’s partly because of a near-$1 million increase, but it’s also because of things being shifted around.

Out of the nearly $11.4 million in student-paid Activity and Services (A&S) fees for the 2010-11 fiscal year, about $2.25 million – an increase of just more than $1 million compared to this fiscal year – will fund SG operations, which includes SG Senate, Executive Branch and Judicial Branch.

Director of the A&S Business Office Eric Reiter said the increase partially could be attributed to this year’s Senate A&S Recommendation Committee (ASRC), which combined the Executive Branch’s budget – separate before – into the SG operations budget.

The A&S Business Office, also a line item now under the SG operations budget and the biggest reason for the increase, was created this year to help make allocations more organized, Reiter said, advising the ASRC committee and managing the fees under one department. In the past, there were a number of different business offices.

“There was a business office in the campus recreation facility. There was a business office in the Marshall Student Center, and all of the (Campus Activity Board), Homecoming and the University Lecture Series (offices) had financial people that handled all their funds,” he said. “It was facilitated by all these people, so this year we put everybody together in the A&S Business Office.”

Although those individual business offices are now closed, the employees have transferred to the new business office, which brings $646,882 – to be used for payroll and office supplies – to the SG operations budget, he said.

“It’s a reallocation of resources,” he said.

Several other SG entities have either moved around or seen increases, allowing for new advising positions next fiscal year.

SG Computer Services’ budget increased from $386,044 to $445,665 – potentially providing $59,621 to hire a professional director who will oversee the program, as well as purchase “computer and copy supplies,” Reiter said.

SAFE Team, the student escort service, received $22,626 to transition the department under University Police jurisdiction, increasing its budget from $266,435 in 2009-10 fiscal year to $289,061 in 2010-11 fiscal year, he said.

Of items that were on the SG operations budget this fiscal year, the largest increase was given to “special projects” – a $149,513 hike. The increase will help provide $21,000 for buses to ship students to football games, $25,000 for the Tallahassee Internship Program, which selects 10 students to intern with state government officials, and $60,000 to pay for student planners handed out during USF’s Week of Welcome, among other projects.

Reiter said the University is projected to rake in about $9.8 million in total student-paid A&S fees next fiscal year. He said that, combined with nearly $1.5 million left unused from entities this year, the total A&S collection is around $11.4 million. These surplus funds are created when entities request more money then they actually spend, he said.

The SG operations budget is one of four pieces of the total A&S collection. The other three portions are given to student programs and services, student organizations and an interim and reserve accounts.

SG will not receive A&S fees, which will increase from $9.31 to $9.99 per credit hour starting July 1, until later in July, and the budget amount made before that is based on assumptions and historical data on student enrollment, Reiter said.

The budget will remain a projection until signed by USF President Judy Genshaft and Vice President of Affairs Jennifer Meningall, something Senate President Pro Tempore and chair of the ASRC committee Matthew Diaz hopes to see accomplished as soon as possible. The SG term ends May 10.

“We’re hoping to have it done … before the new (SG) President and (SG) Vice President and Senate come to power,” he said. “So we should have it done by the end of this month and the end of this term.”