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Four of CU’s largest budgets were approved by the student government on Wednesday and will be finalized before spring break.
Recreation Services, Wardenburg Health Center, the UMC and CUSG Proper learned how much money will be allocated to them for the next school year during a three-hour session in the UMC’s Gallery.
The amounts that were decided upon by CUSG will be slightly affected by the General Administrative and Infrastructure Recharge (GAIR), a combination of general charges for all cost centers that have been established by the university. Once these charges have been factored in, CUSG will have a second reading and finalize the budgets.
Every cost center went through a process of presenting its desired budget to the legislative council and then having that number debated, discussed and amended by the representatives, senators and executives of the council.
This cost center is in charge of the current Rec Center and the soon-to-begin construction projects designed to improve and build upon it. Director Cheryl Kent, associate directors and board members proposed 0 percent in cuts from an overall budget of $4,899,201.
The two primary elements of the budget discussed among CUSG were the addition of another professional IT position, which would increase the budget by $88,301, and a decision on the closure of the east entrance of the Rec Center, which faces Folsom Field and will be impeded by the upcoming construction. The closure of that section would decrease the budget by roughly $40,000.
Debate arose regarding whether or not the east entrance was used enough to warrant staying open and if another IT position (there is only one other existing IT job) was necessary.
CUSG decided to cut both the IT position and the east entrance, leaving Recreation Services with a budget of $4,770,065. Director Kent declined to make a statement.
Wardenburg Health Center
According to CUSG Vice President of Internal Affairs Carly Robinson, five Wardenburg staff positions were on the chopping block to be eliminated from the center’s overall budget, including a resident PhD-registered nurse, a student community health representative and a marketing intern.
Wardenburg board members appealed strongly to the council, asking them to budget the student community health position, which would further support involvement in community health offerings like HIV testings, de-stress “havens” that provide massages and aromatherapy, and freshman orientations on personal health and health challenges that college presents.
There was disagreement among the council over including these positions, particularly the community health position, in the budget. Senator Ryan Tyson argued that Wardenburg’s $1.2 million fund balance in savings (which is not the actual budget) was “a huge amount of money that could take care of enhancements and positions.”
On the other hand, Representative at Large Brittni Hernandez agreed with the board on the importance of the community health position.
“Now is the time to invest in Wardenburg,” Hernandez said.
In the end, the movement to approve budgeting the positions failed with an 8-9-1 vote.
“We’re not pleased, but we’ll try to fund it,” Wardenburg Director and Assistant Vice Chancellor of Health and Wellness Don Misch said. “$1.2 million seems like a lot of money, but when you do the math, you realize that it can be gone very quickly. In three or four years, the money’s gone, and that’s just assuming that there aren’t any other issues.”
The UMC board members told CUSG that they could accept a 3 percent cut in their overall budget if their requests for enhancements were taken into consideration. The primary requested enhancement was $17,000 for CU Gold, an organization providing free leadership programs to students.
However, CU Gold’s relatively small student audience – 150 students would be involved in the retreats and programs offered – made many CUSG members question its importance and need for funding. Senator Tyson and Senator Colin Sorensen suggested that student groups asking for less money could provide the same opportunities of leadership.
Representative at Large Isra Chaker argued on behalf of the UMC.
“Student groups don’t have the capacity or resources to hold conferences like CU Gold,” she said.
An amendment was proposed to take $20,000 from the UMC’s capital budget—which goes towards general operating costs for the entire building—and provide $10,000 to CU Gold. The movement passed, giving the UMC an approximate budget of $3,416,000.
Student coordinator of CU Gold, Anna Damm, a 22-year-old senior English and communications major, continued to stress the importance of the organization after the decision had been made.
“We provide workshops to students, and those involve team-building and network activities, and ways to be a more effective group,” Damm said. “Last year we lost $17,000 during this process, so this year we asked for it all back.”
The final budget presented was CUSG’s own. Robinson and CUSG finance director Justin Kever spoke to their fellow council members.
The proposed budget was a 10 percent overall decrease from last year due to a staff resignation that resulted in an extra $78,000. The overall amount of $465,797, though considerably less than some of the cost centers, still initiated a debate.
“I find it funny that we ask these cost centers to make cuts however possible, and then we’re like, ‘We need catering’,” Representative Emma Harsin Drager said, referring to the undisclosed amount of operational costs that CUSG uses for food during their weekly meetings.
Robinson countered, saying that the money for food was important during the 10-hour-long sessions CUSG has had in the past and for the budget meetings that involve many other people. Her point was defended by Carrie Gleeksman, the finance board director.
Chaker and Hernandez both proposed cuts to the overall budget but were overturned by majority votes. The CUSG’s budget remained the same, and in general, the council was pleased by the original 10 percent decrease.
“We expect a lot from the cost centers,” Representative Sam Bell said. “We have to lead by example and cut what we have to cut, and this has been a good example so far.”
Robinson said that the cuts CUSG makes aren’t easily decided, but she believes that they should be based almost solely on how efficiently the cost centers spend their money.
“I personally was elected to find efficiencies within student fees,” Robinson said. “That was the platform that I ran on, so I really try to keep that in mind.”
“We try to really look at these budgets in depth,” Robinson said. “We don’t want to cut just to cut. We have to think, is this worth what the students are paying for?”
Contact CU Independent Breaking News Editor Annie Melton at Anne.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contributions by Nora Keating and Bethany Morris.