Payroll, intramurals targeted for budget cuts

The Student Finance Board (SFB) introduced its budget for fiscal year 2007, which includes cuts to certain paid student leadership positions and intramural sports as well as a pay increase for the Student Government Association (SGA) and SFB presidents.

The budget, approved last week by SGA and Elizabeth Paul, interim vice president of Student Life, also creates a club sports council to allocate funds among club teams.

The budget for fiscal year 2007 includes an estimated income from the Student Activities Fund (SAF) of $744,800, the same amount as this year. Jon Borst, administrative director of SFB and next year’s executive director, said that Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s proposed budget cuts should not affect the amount of SAF money available for student organizations.

While most changes in the budget consisted of reallocating funds, the most significant cuts were to payroll and the intramural program.

SFB allocated $66,682 for payroll in the new budget, a decrease of $5,422 from this year. The reduction comes from cutting hours for some student leaders and removing some positions from payroll altogether, including SFB’s management director and SGA’s vice president of administration and finance. The executive president is the only person in SGA who will be paid.

However, some student leadership positions will earn raises next year, including SGA’s executive president and SFB’s executive director. Each will make $7,440 for the year, an increase of $1,360.

Borst explained that these raises of student government and financial board presidents at other colleges. He said that many received full tuition while some even earned room and board.

Borst said that the salaries of SGA’s and SFB’s presidents were last changed in 2000, and the amount awarded was given as a stipend based on in-state tuition. At the time, in-state tuition was $3,366 – it is currently $4,928. According to Borst, if the stipend remained in proportion to tuition, the presidents of SGA and SFB would make almost $10,000.

Julia Pratt, executive director, defended SFB’s decision and said that the removal of certain student leadership positions from the payroll was “not haphazard.”

“(SFB) just can’t pay every student leader,” Pratt said. “It’s just not feasible.”

According to Pratt, SFB talked with organizations with paid student leaders and discussed the payroll cuts to “critically examine” whether or not certain student leaders needed to be paid.

The highest paid student leader next year will be SFB’s financial director, who serves as accountant. Borst said that the $7,680 salary is needed because SFB needs to offer payment that is competitive with accounting firms that often hire accounting students.

The College’s intramural program is budgeted for $34,904, a decrease of almost $6,000 from this year. SFB cut funding for equipment in half and only granted $4,300 for awards and weekend programs after an appeal.

Borst said that equipment funding was cut because SFB should not have to pay for the same equipment every year.

“How is it that all equipment needs to be replaced every year?” he said.

Debbie Simpson, intramurals coordinator, was not pleased with SFB’s decision.

“I am never happy when the intramural program, which supports nearly two-thirds of the student population, incurs any budget cuts,” she wrote in an e-mail interview. “These cuts are devastating to the program.”

Simpson added that due to cuts, not all members of intramural championship teams will receive awards and the quality of equipment will suffer.

SFB took a new approach to deal with club sports organizations, which have complained about a lack of funding all year. SFB’s conference policy has been to award $50 per person, which is often not enough to send a club team to a tournament.

SFB dealt with this touchy issue by allocating $43,000 to a newly created club sports council, which will consist of representatives from all 16 club sports teams who will distribute money among themselves.

Borst said that the amount was decided by trending the funds given to all clubs sports teams for the last three years. Borst will sit in on the club sports council’s meetings to ensure that all SFB policies are followed.

Most changes in the budget were reallocations to more effectively utilize available funds. Funding for the multicultural and conference request lines were cut, while the special appropriations line, which student organizations utilize most, was increased.

SFB’s high-volume line, which is used to fund big-name speakers and performers, remained at $100,000 for next year. Pratt has made it a point to encourage the College to recruit big names to the College, and Borst said that trend will continue under his tenure.

“I definitely fall in line with (Pratt’s) initiative to increase that line,” he said. “It’s what the students want.”

SFB funding for Celebration of the Arts, which SFB co-sponsors with the College, remained at $50,300 for next year. However, Borst said that the College may not be able to offer its share of funding due to Corzine’s budget cuts. If this occurs, SFB will have to reallocate the money, most likely into the high-volume events line.

Borst said that SFB has approved next year’s budgets for all student organizations with the exception of All College Theatre and Opera Theatre, who have to submit their performance selections. He said that SFB only budgeted for programs up to Oct. 15.

Pratt said that SFB prefers this method, which will force organizations on campus to present at SFB meetings when they request money.

“It’s better for the student body if base budgets are small,” Pratt said. She said that SFB wants to avoid allocating “blanket amounts of money” that clubs can use in any way they choose without SFB approval.

The Child Care Center will receive $2,000 from SFB next year, a sharp decrease from the $10,000 it received this year. Borst said that while many SFB board members wanted to zero-fund the center, they decided that it was fairer to decrease, but not totally eliminate, funding.

On March 22, Connie Danser, coordinator for the Child Care Center, told The Signal that only three of the 16 children enrolled at the center are children of students at the College. This, according to Pratt, was another reason to reduce the center’s funding.

Borst emphasized training student leaders to effectively program events and use SAF money wisely. As a result, SFB will require that two members, including one executive board member, from every student organization attend Passport to Programming on Sept. 9. The program trains student leaders, particularly in the use of student funds.

“Because of the amount of large organizations, it is absolutely necessary that they go through at least some training in order to effectively program,” Borst said. “This will ensure that organizations that best program have the money to do that.”

– Michelle McGuinness, News Assistant, contributed to this story