Union Council, the governing body of the Wisconsin Union, voted to approve the 2014-2015 union budget proposal in their meeting Thursday night, allocating more than $44 million for Union South and Memorial Union.
Hank Walter, the Council treasurer, said the budget is subject to change pending construction on Memorial Union.
“[There is] much more uncertainty about this than in a typical budget,” Walter said. “We made assumptions on when things would happen.”
Walter said union officials are unsure if major revenue units in Memorial Union will be open next fall, as certain sections of the building may be closed if construction continues as expected. He said the budget was built including the assumption that the west and central wings of the union would be closed for construction September 1, 2014.
The second phase of construction is pending approval after a state building commission meeting to be held March 5. The commission will vote on allowing the union to continue with its construction plans.
Walter said although parts of the union will be closed, officials are working to ensure any students who work there and would like to keep a union job will be able to do so.
“We will commit that any student employee whose job is going away and is interested in another job, [we] will do what they can to help them find it,” Walter said.
The budget also accounts for increased growth and projected revenue. Jeff Haupt, an alumni representative for the council, said part of this is based on the change in the WisCard program next year. Haupt said allowing students to use a single WisCard account for both food and housing needs will make it easier for students to buy more food from the union.
He said union establishments may also offer a 5 percent discount on purchases made with a WisCard.
Walter added that Union South establishments have seen growth this year, and expect revenue to continue to increase into next year.
There was also discussion of the changing budget approval process itself.
“We’ve tried the last couple years to have conversations at the December council meeting and maybe we don’t have the right questions,” Walter said. “But I feel like we could maybe do some things to make the process better.”
Some student representatives questioned the transparency of the process and wanted more time to understand how different units within the union came up with their numbers.
Walter said he hopes to work with students to help improve the process. SSFC Rep. Devon Maier said he believes it is possible.
“We all have the same agenda and the same goal,” Maier said. “So I think we’re kind of getting there.”
Union Council will meet again on Feb. 19 to vote on new leadership positions for the next school year.