At the Nov. 30 SGA meeting, Student Life representatives revealed Student Life is out of allocated funding. BAC spent $92,248.79 so far this year and SGA is projected to have $10,716 in reserves for fiscal year 2024-25.
Student Life’s director of student engagement Stephen Cucchiara and student activities specialist Heather Marx explained that Student Life usually exhausts the funding allocated from SGA every year and the organization still has base funding to pull money from.
According to the presentation from Marx and Cucchiara, SGA’s Carry Forward Fund, reserve money that consists of unspent money from previous years, is down to $38,059.70, originally $157,321.31 at the start of the semester, meaning SGA has spent 75% of their reserves so far.
Student Life SGA budget update
Cucchiara said the yearly funding Student Life gets from SGA pays for Mountain Lion Connect (MLC), some fixed costs and operational needs. Most of the funds are used to pay for MLC at the beginning of every fall.
“We have set it so that the first few months of the fiscal year are using that funding [SGA funds], which is why by November/December, those funds are exhausted,” Cucchiara said.
Since Student Life has base funding of approximately $640,000 that is separate from the money given to them by SGA, Cucchiara said the organization is not running into any issues.
Cucchiara explained the base funding is broken up among five staff to pay for their salaries and benefits, 13 student employees and six operational areas. These operations include Student Life, clubs and organizations, LIVE Leadership, student activities, fraternity and sorority life, Student Engagement Leader Program and Clyde’s Kickoff.
“Student Life will continue to move forward with their operations. A plan is set for every year based on the amount of funding allocated. SGA funding is only a portion of Student Life’s base funding,” he said.
Student Life also has around $129,000 in reserves, and some of it has been planned to help fund initiatives for the 2024 fiscal year. Here is a budget breakdown from the presentation’s main parts:
- The fiscal year 2023-24 SGA budget started with a total of $357,171. For fiscal year 2022-23, the budget total was $331,982.
- Student Life was allocated $105,000 at the start of the semester and has $0.00 remaining.
- BAC was allocated $83,474.12 at the start of the semester and had $3,077.37 remaining at the time of the meeting.
- Clyde’s Cupboard was allocated $42,000 at the start of the semester and had $38,138.37 remaining at the time of the meeting.
SGA is funded by the Student Activity Fee, which is currently at $16.06 per student for the fall and spring semesters and $8.03 for the summer semesters.
In comparison, CU Denver’s Student Services Fee is $185 per student every semester and CU Boulder’s is $302.8 per semester for more than one class or more than five hours.
To increase funding, SGA passed an SAF fee increase at their Oct. 5 meeting, increasing the total to $30.40 per student for the fall and spring semesters and $15.20 per student for the summer semesters. But it needs to be voted on during the spring election and will not go into effect until the next fiscal year.
SGA co-advisor Noelle San Souci explained the $157,321 of Carry Forward reserves are used to fund bills and programs that are not set in their annual budget. Additionally, the reserves can be used to provide money to BAC if it runs out.
“One of the things that did hit [Carry Forward] is bad debt. We had to, unfortunately, take a chunk of that, so that’s the $36,000 [$36,622.72],” Marx said.
In addition to bad debt, a total of $32,638.89 has been spent on bills this semester, leaving almost half, $88,059.70, left in the Carry Forward Fund before SGA passed a bill to reallocate more funds to BAC.
San Souci noted SGA will still operate if Carry Forward runs out because funds from their annual budget have been dedicated to ensure they can still function. Whatever is not used from that budget, such as Clyde’s Cupboard, will be put back into Carry Forward.
SGA had to spend a significant amount of their reserves last year as well. At the Oct. 5 SGA meeting, vice president Aidan Clark said the reserves were at $289,263.03 at the beginning of last year.
Although Cucchiara applauded all the work SGA has completed so far this year, he did believe they needed to create a plan for how to utilize the remaining funding.
“You’re doing great things, and you need to continue to do those things, but you’re on a trajectory where you need to start putting forth some plans,” Cucchiara said. “I think you need to start prioritization as a student governance. I think you need to reflect back on what your primary purpose is with the Student Activity Fee.”
Marx elaborated on how these funds can be used to directly impact students the most.
“With the Student Activity Fee, that’s a fee that every student pays into, so one of the awesome ways that students are able to access that fee is through the club events and activities that you all support,” Marx said.
In addition to focusing on clubs and organizations, Cucchiara and Marx recommended developing a plan to sustain a small reserve that builds between years, developing a strategic plan for how to spend funding and considering alternative funding mechanisms.
When asked if he had any concerns about the Carry Forward Fund running out, Cucchiara pointed out potential ramifications if it were to run out as projected.
“So, what I see is that next year we enter the year with no Carry Forward. SGA is going to have to change their funding guidelines a third consecutive year to limit how much money clubs and organizations are going to be allocated toward,” Cucchiara said.
His concerns extended past the ability of clubs and organizations to operate fully, as he believed this will also limit what SGA is able to do.
“My concern is that these great initiatives that they’re doing like Friendsgiving — where they are providing support, food, nourishment, community for students — that’s not gonna be an option. My concern is that student government is going to handcuff themselves if they don’t start thinking a little bit more creatively,’” Cucchiara said.
Carry Forward funding bill
SGA passed a bill that reallocated $50,000 from the Carry Forward Fund to BAC for the spring semester because BAC expended all of the funding allocated to them for the year within the fall semester.
Senator of business Amanda Ford, who is on BAC and authored the bill, said BAC intends to create a plan for how to best allocate this funding, including deciding on a limit of how much should be allocated to clubs and organizations at each meeting.
Ford believed this was the best use of the remaining funds in Carry Forward. “The primary use for the Student Activity Fee is to fund clubs and organizations,” she said.
Senator of innovation Tobias Estrella spoke in support of this bill.
“Clubs really run the life of the school, we are the governing body, but they actually are the people. If there’s no clubs or involvement in that sense, it will all fall apart. That’s the knitting of the whole fabric,” Estrella said.
San Souci said BAC will continue to fund clubs in the spring the same way they did for the fall.
“For fairness, they will apply the same scrutiny and support that was provided in the fall to clubs applying in the spring. Clubs should get their proposals quickly, though, because once the money runs out, it is very unlikely that SGA will be able to refill the BAC budget again from their reserves,” she said.
At their Dec. 5 meeting, BAC spent $11,888.04 to provide funding for seven clubs, leaving $41,189.33 left in their budget.
San Souci also said SGA will be working with their new director of finance once they are appointed to identify programs and initiatives that they want to fund for the remainder of the year once a new director is elected.
As of the meeting, there is $38,059.70 left in the Carry Forward Fund for next semester. In the presentation, Cucchiara and Marx estimated fiscal year 2024-25’s Carry Forward will have $10,716 at the current rate of SGA spending.
In other news:
- The Green Action Fund language for the spring election has been passed by the senate. If voted in by the student body, this fee will fund sustainable projects on campus from students, staff and faculty proposals. The fee is $6.39 per student in spring and fall semesters and $3.20 per student for summer semester.
- River Gassen, a UCCS student, is running for U.S. House district five. She spoke about her campaign to the senate and invited them to get involved in her campaign. She plans to address climate change, AI use and financial concerns for young people if she gets elected.
- The Rules and Organization Committee has reported they are close to finalizing election policy.
- The Appointment Advisory Committee has begun the process of appointing a new director of finance after the resignation of the previous director, Ian Sachs.
SGA focuses on budgets and funding more money to the Budget Advisory Committee. (Photo by Megan M)