Budget for new fiscal year passes B&A Committee

Emily Echevarria, Government Reporter

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After nearly 4 hours of deliberation, the Student Government budget for the 2020/2021 fiscal year was approved by the Budget and Allocations committee, unanimously. 

The budget is funded through the Activity and Service fee, a $10.18 per credit hour charge that every student pays. For the coming fiscal year, UNF is projected to collect 435,000 credit hours, providing A&S Fee revenue of $4,428,300. 

If UNF collects more than this number of credit hours, which occurred during this current fiscal year, the extra money will be allocated towards either the Special Request Index or General Reserves. 

Treasurer Kenneth Smith created the budget and worked in conjunction with the Budget and Allocations committee to hold hearings for those clubs and organizations requesting money for the coming fiscal year. On Friday, Jan 24, Smith and the committee held deliberations to amend the proposed balanced budget and vote to forward it to the Senate. 

Smith commented that he had two goals with this budget: efficiency and transparency. 

“My goal for this budget was to try to make it more clear for the average senator, the average student, and the average person who’s going to look at our budget to not have 10,000 questions,” he commented. 

Now that the budget has been confirmed by the B&A committee, it will be forwarded to Senate for further debate and a final vote on Friday, Feb 7. 

Here’s a breakdown of the biggest changes and controversies within the new budget:

Restructuring of Special Requests Index

The Special Request Index is a provision that allows for organizations funded by Student Government to request extra money throughout the fiscal year that they did not initially budget for, such as new projects or salary costs. To request use of this money, organizations must go through the Budget and Allocations Committee and then the Senate. 

As it stands currently, the Special Requests Index will be allotted $60,000. If the projected number of credit hours UNF will collect next semester increases before the start of the new fiscal year, as Treasurer Smith predicts, the extra projected income will be added to this index. For example, a 10,000 credit hour increase would mean that an additional $95,183 would be placed into the Special Request Index. The other 6.5% goes to overhead costs. 

If UNF happens to collect extra money from credit hours after the start of the fiscal year, that extra revenue will go into the General Reserves. 

Intentional Use of Funds Balance

Smith worked to change the provisionary language of the budget this year, changing instances of projected future revenue to a new label of “intentional use of fund balances.” Each year, Student Government collects money from “Sweep Up Fund.” These are instances where unspent revenue across all departments is collected to be used for future projects. 

Smith designed the budget to spend more money than Student Government expects to take in from the A&S Fee, while relying on projected Sweep Up Funds to account for the difference. 

Increase minimum wage for all Student Government employees to $10 an hour.

In Smith’s proposed budget, all Student Government OPS positions would be paid $10 an hour. These positions are temporary employment positions without benefits, mostly consisting of students. These positions include senators and various members of the executive and judicial branches.

Currently, these positions have a minimum wage of $9 an hour, but there was debate amongst senators on the committee over whether to implement the change. There has not been a wage increase for Student Government employees in 3 years. 

Photo by Spinnaker Media

Some senators felt that the wage should be at $9 to match the income of other student employees. “I see the $10 raise as almost favoritism to ourselves, and I think that’s what the student body will perceive it as, as well,” said Senator Anthony Hall. “It’s unethical.”

“I’m in support of the $10 hourly wage. Like Treasurer Smith said, this stays pretty static. We don’t get raises, and other positions on campus do,” said Senator Rachel Saunders. 

A motion to change the wages of Student Government employees to $9 an hour instead of $10 an hour failed 1-0-6, and the B&A committee confirmed the $10 an hour wage. 

Increase wage of President and Vice-President of the student body to $11 an hour. 

With the increase of the wages of student government employees, the proposed budget also included an increase in the pay of the President and Vice-President of the student body. This is a $2 an hour increase. 

Some Senators argued that the President and Vice President should be paid $10 an hour instead, to match the wages of other Student Government employees. 

SG President John Aloszka addresses Senate on Friday, January 24, 2020. Photo credit Emily Echevarria.

Senator Camden Dean argued for the wages to be set at $10 an hour, saying, “I think it’s more appropriate to increase everybody to the same amount.”

Senator Rachel Saunders hit back against this, calling the proposal for $10 an hour, “a bit bizarre.” “This position is almost a full-time job,” she argued.

“I agree that the SG President and Vice President do more work than other positions,” Dean rebutted. “I don’t think that means they deserve more of an hourly wage. They work more hours a week, so they receive larger compensation because they’re working more.”

The amendment to change the proposed wage of the President and Vice President to $10 an hour, rather than to $11, failed narrowly, at 3-0-4. This means the wage will increase to $11 an hour. 

Increase minimum wage of employees of Student Government-funded organizations to $9 or $10 an hour. 

From university mandate, the minimum wage for all OPS positions filled by students will increase to $9, an increase from the minimum wage for the state of Florida of $8.46. 

Senators discussed whether to increase this further to $10 an hour for those organizations that are funded by Student Government. These organizations include Spinnaker, the Student Union, and the Recreation and Wellness Complex. 

The committee debated the benefits of this, noting that placing everyone at $10 an hour would diminish promotional values. If a student employee got a promotion, they would not get a raise to go along with it. 

Ultimately, this discussion was tabled until the budget is presented in the Senate to allow Treasurer Smith to discuss exact costs of this initiative with the various budget directors.

Funding a new position at Eco Adventures for a Gear Trip Manager. 

Eco Adventures requested $15,000 to create a new position of Gear Trip Manager to help plan trips and coordinate with the gear used both for these trips and on campus. This position would be part time, and required $15,000. 

Heather Kite, the Associate Director of Recreation and Wellness, advocated for this position during the meeting, but was met with backlash from some of the Senators. 

Senator Catherine Selin opposed the addition of the new position, stating, “I fully believe that they have a lot of other issues that they need to handle before they add an additional position. We’ve had issues presented to us before for Eco. The offices are run down, they’re too small, the trails– all the sheds are run down.” 

Not all Senators were opposed to the addition of the Gear Trip Manager, though. Senator Jesse Huffman advocated for the position, saying it would “streamline the process,” of planning trips. “This is really what the A&S Fee is all about, providing more fun and access to the students for trips and travel,” he continued. 

After debate, the position was amended and was granted $5,000 for just the fall semester, as a trial run. If the position works out well, Eco Adventures will have to submit a Special Request to fund the position for the spring semester, and the position would be fully incorporated into the budget for the next fiscal year. 

Even with this amendment, the position was controversial. It barely passed the B&A committee, with a vote of 4-0-3. 

Changing the provisionary language and funding of Spinnaker. 

Spinnaker is required to give a “comprehensive survey about the use and perception” of its media sources on campus every fall, and to coordinate with the University and Student Affairs Chair and Treasurer in developing and analyzing the survey. Student Government has been unsatisfied with Spinnaker’s previous surveys, and this new arrangement was designed to improve them. 

Per Spinnaker’s memorandum of understanding with Student Government, Spinnaker is allotted 6% of A&S revenue with a limit between $235,000 and $245,000. Within that, Spinnaker has full discretion regarding its budget and must report monthly to the Treasurer. 

During deliberations, there was a motion to reduce Spinnaker funding to $235,000, based on the argument that it is not well represented on campus. 

“To continue to fund them at $245,000 while a portion of the student body doesn’t know who they are, doesn’t know what their services are, and does not utilize those services, I think is an injustice to the student body that’s paying for them currently,” said Senator Anthony Hall.

Senator Dean argued against this, saying, “I would argue that part of Spinnaker is the students involved in the program getting experience working in journalism, not just the consumption of that journalism by the student body at large.”

“I don’t think reducing the amount of funding while requiring a wage increase makes a lot of sense,” Dean continued. 

After a roll call vote, the motion to reduce Spinnaker’s funding failed 1-0-6, and the funding will remain at $245,000.

The budget as currently approved by the B&A committee:

Departments Total allocations
Student Union $855,709
Lend-a-Wings food pantry $56,776
Osprey Productions $436,015
Student homecoming $102,700
Student travel $50,000
Recreation & Intramural Sports $608,848
Student Wellness Complex $675,600
Student Involvement Center $93,834
Club funding $45,000
Student Government Executive Branch $180,107
Student Government Legislative Branch $80,402
Student Government Business & Administration $819,210
Student Government Judicial Branch $14,891
Student Government Office of Elections $17,181
Special Requests $60,000
Business overhead $311,740
Salary reserves $7,000
Spinnaker Media $245,000

 

Total A&S Indexes: $4,660,012

Intentional use of funds balance: $201,712

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