SG to vote on $13.6 million A&S budget

The Student Government (SG) Senate will vote tonight on allocations for the approximately $13.6 million in student-paid Activity and Service (A&S) fees expected to come in for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

Though the USF Board of Trustees Local Fee Committee recommended increasing A&S fees by $0.43 per term in February, SGs projection for incoming A&S fees were based on enrollment projections from the University and the SG Business Office that assumed no change in the current $7-per-term flat fee paid by students.

We try to base our allocations off of conservative estimates, said SG Senate President Khalid Hassouneh, a senior majoring medical technology.

The A&S Recommendation Committee (ASRC) heard allocation requests from student organizations, student affairs and SG agencies in the fall and had until April to finalize its budget proposal, which was approved in a 5-1 vote Friday.

If the Senate passes the budget tonight, the bill will be signed by Hassouneh and USF student body President Matt Diaz before reaching USF President Judy Genshafts desk. If the budget is vetoed, it will go back to the ASRC for further deliberation.

By statutory requirement, SG must save 5 percent of incoming A&S funds for reserves in case projections are off and less money is available than anticipated. This year, $1,045,000 is being held in interim and reserve accounts.

The Oracle looks at how the nearly $13.6 million in student-paid fees could be spent if the budget is approved as is.

SG agencies

SG agencies Computer Services, Bulls Radio and SAFE Team together received a total decrease of $91,593 in funding allocations. However, SAFE Team saw an increase of $158,176 to its budget and Bulls Radio saw an increase of $52,055.

Hassouneh said SAFE Teams increase was mainly due to expanded capacity in hiring more personnel.

Bulls Radio, he said, received $25,000 for developing a news website and the remainder for new equipment.

They have a reporter there and they had some articles popping up, but theyve done a good job this year so we want to continue to support that notion and give them a few more reporters and give them the capability to have a semi-independent website, he said.

Computer Services was cut by $301,824 after SG invested that money into TechSmart, a computer and printing facility. TechSmart will now be funded by the Special Projects fund, which saw an increase of $404,920 from its $208,894 budget last year and now also funds Mr. and Miss USF, Bulls Blitz and other USF traditions.

Though SG Agencies are allocated set amounts of funding to be spent on payroll, capital outlay, utilities and programming, the organizations do have some flexibility with how the money is spent.

You cant use

programming to pay for payroll, but we hire (an SG agency director) as a responsible person, said ASRC Budget Chairman Jeff Gao, a senior majoring in biology. The executive branch goes through a hiring process and hires the right person, and then Senate either confirms or not confirms. Otherwise, we look at what they spend at the end of the year. All the purchases have to go through the A&S Business Office.

Standardized payroll

A bill passed last year will go into effect this upcoming fiscal year to ensure that all employees on the SG payroll are paid in a uniform way.

We used to have a way where each branch and each department came up with their own thing, Hassouneh said. Last year throughout SG we created standard hours and standard pay rates for all SG departments. In some cases, that lowered numbers and in some cases led to higher numbers.

SG employees now are paid for 43 weeks per year, while before some were paid for 52 and others for 39 weeks, Hassouneh said. During the 2011-12 academic year, school was only in session for 39 weeks. Employees will be paid on a scale from $8.50 to $10.25 per hour.

In most cases, Hassouneh said the effects of the payroll shift were minimal and accounted for less than 5 percent of budgets. All payroll monies not used during a given year are swept back into SGs budget and reallocated the next year.

Payroll increases and decreases

The Campus Recreation Center will see a $51,632 increase in its payroll allocation due to its extended hours, and Veterans Services will see an increase of $9,116 for two graduate assistants. The Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement, New Student Connections and Fraternity and Sorority Life also saw an increase in funds for graduate assistant pay.

SG Advising, Training and Operations (SGATO) will see a decrease of $20,104 in payroll. The SG legislative branch saw a $41,414 increase for payroll of chairs and funding of a secretary and a clerk, while the SG judicial branch saw an $11,753 increase in payroll for a secretary. The SG executive branch saw an $11,614 decrease in payroll.

Student Services

The Local Fee Committee approved a fee increase for the Marshall Student Center (MSC) that would generate about $463,000 more to be used for building maintenance.

The Center for Student Involvement which encapsulates Homecoming, Campus Activities Board (CAB), University Lecture Series (ULS) and the Centre Gallery will receive about $200,000 more in allocation in an attempt to recruit better programming, Gao said.

The Homecoming Steering Committee has been appropriated $76,850 more, while CAB has been allocated $73,670 more and ULS $48,272 more.

Student Organizations

In total, ASRC allocated $708,638 to student organizations, down from the $752,486 allocated last year.

The 196 student organizations funded this year received an average of $1,728 per group, compared to last years 249 organizations, which received an average of $1,314.19 last year.

But Hassouneh said the number of organizations funded is misleading.

This year, ASRC allocated $53,000 to the College of Medicine council to allocate funds to all medical-related organizations previously funded independently under SG.

Additionally, $135,000 is being allocated to a collective travel grant fund from which organizations can request on a per-trip basis as opposed to requesting all travel funds at the beginning of the year.

USF Day at the Capitol

SG is allocating $74,200 to keep up with rival schools by creating a day for students to lobby in the Tallahassee Legislature an event similar to previous years Rally in Tally, hosted by the Florida Student Association (FSA), except solely for USF students.

Hassouneh said UF spends a little more than $100,000; FSU, $75,000; and UCF, $65,000 for their days at the capitol.

The bulk of USFs costs would go toward hiring a political consultant who would organize the event and bring in prominent legislators.

Wed get the big time legislators there, as opposed to what we had this year, which was kind of lackluster, Hassouneh said.

Gao said SG is not sure if FSA will host Rally in Tally again, but $10,600 is still allocated toward association membership. If the association does host Rally in Tally again, Gao said USF would participate in both events.