The ASUO office in the EMU. (Emerald)

On Saturday, ASUO held its annual “Budget Bonanza” meeting in the Gerlinger Lounge. During the meeting, all four of the legislative committees met to vote on the finalization of the Incidental Fee budget for the next fiscal year.

According to Senate President Isaiah Boyd, The Budget Bonanza is more than just the day. It is the entire process that has to lead to the finalization of the next fiscal year’s Incidental Fee budget and where it is all allocated.

“In the fall term, around week five, all the financial committees meet with their committee members to decide on their benchmarks for the next fiscal year,” Boyd said.

Saturday marked the finalization of the budgeting process for the next fiscal year, resulting in new benchmarks that were created for each legislative committee. The benchmarks for all four committees went to the Senate floor asking for increases in their budget.

Programs Finance Committee (PFC)

The PFC is the committee that oversees the funding of all ASUO-approved student groups. The PFC manages 155 student groups and receives the least amount of I-Fee funds in comparison to the other three committees. PFC received $1,273,806 allocated in the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

This year, the PFC originally requested a 2.09% increase in its budget. This was revised during the meeting after two student groups submitted their budgets in the last second. They also decided that the budget for the Men’s Center, which was originally funded by the PFC, should be funded by the Departments Finance Committee. Once that decision was finalized, the PFC reduced its request to only a 0.9% increase.

After a recess for the PFC to agree on the allocated funds for the two student groups that submitted their budgets during the conference, the Senate approved a $1,285,373 budget for the PFC in the 2020-21 fiscal year.

Departments Finance Committee (DFC)

The DFC is the committee that oversees 15 different departments around campus. Zero-Waste, the Women’s Center and Safe Ride are just a few of the departments that receive funding through the DFC. Last year, it was allocated $2,797,502 from the I-Fee budget in order to reach their benchmarks.

Originally, the DFC had asked for a 4.2% increase to their budget for the 2020-21 school year, however, after a recess to determine whether the Men’s center should be funded by the DFC, the total increase came to 7.7%.

After a short recess to discuss the changing benchmark, the Senate approved funding for the DFC at $3,001,359 for the 2020-21 school year.

Erb Memorial Union Board (EMUB)

The EMUB is the board that oversees all operational costs of the EMU. This includes staff, restaurants, amenities and utilities. In total, the EMUB takes the largest amount of the I-Fee budget.

During their hearing at the Budget Bonanza meeting, the EMUB asked for a 5.6% increase in funding to maintain the EMU’s operational costs at the current standard. With increasing personnel costs and a declining revenue, the EMUB requested the largest increase of funding out of the four committees. 

After their hearing, the Senate unanimously voted to approve the 5.6% increase in the EMUB funding, resulting in a $7,256,867 budget for the 2020-21 school year.

Athletics and Contracts Finance Committee (ACFC)

The ACFC oversees eight contracts and an agreement with the Athletics department. The agreement with the Athletics department is not contractually enforced, and the other contracts are independent of the university. 

Related: Get to know ASUO: ACFC

This year, the ACFC originally requested an increase of 2.81%, however, it was able to reduce the percent to 1.45%. After explaining the cuts and increases that the ACFC made during the budgeting process, the Senate decided to approve the 1.45% increase, bringing the ACFC’s budget to $4,630,598 for the 2020-21 school year.

Final Takeaways

During the hearings, Executive Financial Director Conrad Sproul informed the senate that a $29,531 total reduction is required in order to balance the budget.

“The discussion that we had at the end of the meeting was to reconcile [the $29,531] without drastically changing the proposed budgets from the committee's,” Boyd said. “Also how can we maintain the I-Fee increases within a relative distance that's not putting too much on the students’ back, but also not taking too much that students don’t get what they deserve out of the I-Fee.”

In total, the Incidental Fee Budget will be approximately $17,595,371 for the coming 2020-21 fiscal year. To meet this budget, ASUO will have to increase the I-Fee charge by 4.8%. The increase must still be approved by the board of trustees in the spring before it is finalized.