University Health Services said they will not be requesting a budget increase through student segregated fees for the following fiscal year in a proposal given at a University of Wisconsin student government meeting Thursday.
Rather, UHS presented a budget neutral proposal in Associated Students of Madison Student Services Finance Committee meeting, adding that they will withdraw from their reserve revenues to fund a slightly increased budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. UHS’ total budget will be $14.6 million, up approximately $130,000 from last year, and 82 percent of it will come from segregated fees.
UHS Director of Administrative Services Arnie Jennerman said segregated fees for the university’s health service facilities would have increased $4,000 next year if UHS decided not to dip into its savings. With the freeze in segregated fee increases, however, UHS has maintained the rate increase for those fees at 2.7 percent since the 2010-2011 year.
ASM Student Services Funding Committee Chair Ellie Bruecker said she was pleased in response to UHS’ budget proposals.
“I’m especially happy with the fact that UHS has found a way to have a cost neutral budget and expand some services,” she said. “They’re looking at service students want more of, they’re expanding those and not asking for more money from students. I think that’s fantastic.”
Bruecker added UHS’ funding request will ensure future budget hikes remain small. She said the campus health services organization’s budget proposal is “extremely responsible” and simultaneously does not place any undue burden on students next year.
In the coming years, UHS will have to deal with an increased budget to cope with rising costs of purchases, Bruecker said. She added UHS cannot continue to draw from its reserves until no money is left, and segregated fees will have to go up.
“Right now, they’re asking for less than they need,” Bruecker said. “They won’t be able to do that if they ask for too much less than they need. It just spreads it out.”
Proposed new programming initiatives for UHS include expanding nutritional services, maintaining sexually transmitted disease testing and adding a new prevention team member for issues of stress, according to UHS Director Sarah Van Orman.
Van Orman said there is a 99.9 percent chance the STD tests will no longer be subsidized by the Wisconsin Department of Public Health after Gov. Scott Walker announced his biennial state budget on Feb. 20.
Additionally, Van Orman added UHS will begin funding capital investment projects such as replacing its ultrasound, purchasing a backup air conditioning for the computer room and backup data center hardware.
In spite of the uncertainties facing her health services facilities due to possible cuts to the UW System, the UHS director noted there is funding in place to deal with such contingencies.
“That’s why we have reserves,” Van Orman said. “Not only to fund future projects but also so that we’re able to maintain core services in the event that the budget changes.”