Members of the Associated Students of Madison’s student fee committee voted to freeze the Wisconsin Union’s operations budget Monday, saying the Union budgeting process is not transparent enough.
The Student Services Finance Committee also approved a $340,000 budget for the Student Activities Center Governing Board and allocated $40,000 to fund ASM’s Student Judiciary.
Wisconsin Union Budget
SSFC voted to freeze a portion of Wisconsin Union’s segregated fee revenue at $10,106,600 in a 6-0 vote with two abstentions.
The Union had originally proposed a total segregated fee revenue of $17,703,500, with $7,364,200 of that money going toward to the Union Building Project and $10,339,300 for other services.
The money for the Union Building Project will remain at $7,364,200, as this money stems from debt services and cannot be affected by SSFC recommendations. SSFC voted to reduce the other portion of segregated fee revenue to $10,106,600, eliminating the proposed $1.99 increase in segregated fees per student.
During the meeting, a motion was made to freeze each individual line item in the budget, meaning Union officials would not be able to shift money from different areas. Allocated money would need to stay in each department, which some members argued would not account for variable costs.
The motion to freeze individual line items came after some members expressed disappointment that the process for calculating the Union budget was not transparent enough, and that parts of the budget were left unexplained.
Members also noted that the Union budget is extremely large and complex, and SSFC only has two or three meetings before making a recommendation.
“It’s our job and it’s our money to worry about,” SSFC Rep. Devon Maier said. “We’re talking about every student at this university paying segregated fees and we are in charge of being responsible.”
Union Council President Neil Damron said the body tried to work with SSFC representatives to make the budget process more transparent.
Damron said he reached out to SSFC members to come to Union Council meetings, yet none attended. He added the council also provided any information SSFC requested of them, and SSFC members “barely” questioned Damron when he and other Union officials spoke at the committee meeting last Monday.
“What spoke very loud and clear to me tonight was that despite saying there was not enough information, there was only one question asked of us when we opened ourselves up,” he said.
The motion to freeze individual line items did not carry. Instead, the committee voted to recommend freezing the entire segregated fee revenue for operations. This means money could be shifted from individual departments as long as the entire revenue of $10,106,600 stays the same.
Student Activities Center Governing Board
SSFC also voted on a budget for the Student Activities Center Governing Board, the committee within ASM in charge of the SAC.
SSFC passed the Governing Board budget unanimously, allocating $339,577 in segregated fees for 2014-2015. This is approximately a $46,000 decrease from last year.
Board Chair Arturo Diaz said SACGB saw budget decreases in multiple areas, as the SAC is coming on its sixth birthday and has learned a lot about managing its costs. He said SACGB decreased allocations for wages, phone services, maintenance and repair and projects and improvements.
The committee also voted 8-0 to pass the budget for Student Judiciary, which totaled $40,100. Student Judiciary monitors ASM elections and deals with discrepancies between ASM and other organizations.
Student Judiciary originally presented a total budget of $41,821, which was a $1,721.85 increase from last year. The increase came only from a rise in the stipend amount for the Student Elections Commission Chair, who is charged with overseeing and promoting student elections.
There was some discussion on the duties of the SEC chair and whether they warrant the increased stipend. SSFC voted to decrease the stipend by $1,721.85, bringing the budget back down to $40,100, which is the same budget Student Judiciary saw last year.
SSFC’s recommendation on the Union and other non-allocable budgets will go to Chancellor Rebecca Blank for final consideration. SSFC will meet again on Feb. 27.