UMC budget in a compromising position as second round of budget hearings approaches
This eleven-part series is an in-depth look into the 2007 University of Colorado Student Union budgeting process. Every year, UCSU is charged with distributing more than $30 million in student fees, controlling more money than any other student body in the nation. This series, running over the two-week period that the budgets sit in the hands of the Legislative Council, will explore the process, the people and the effects of the decisions made by your student leaders.
The UMC is speaking, but no one is listening.
Last Thursday, at nearly 2 a.m., the UCSU Legislative Council finally heard the first round of budget hearings for the UMC.
UCSU Budgets 2007: CP’s 11-day Series
Part 1 | The budgeting process – How it works
Part 2 | Ups and downs – Tracking the past
Part 3 | A hardline approach – Determined council seeking 0 percent
Part 4 | Rec Center – Unscathed, but for how long?
Part 5 | UMC – Between a rock and a hard place
Part 6 | Wardenburg – Struggling to stay afloat
Part 7 | Ghosts of budgets past – Previous mistakes haunt Wardenburg today
Part 8 | A community responds – Students on their health center
Part 9 | Taking the brunt – Advocates in danger of losing their programs
Part 10 | Life changer or money waster? Controversial alcohol program on the block
Part 11 | In the public eye – Bracing for the $30 million dollar decisions
Fighting a cold and exhausted, UMC Director Carlos Garcia made his proposal to what seemed like deaf ears.
“Frankly, I don’t believe too many people were listening,” Garcia said. “From what I gathered it sounded to me like they were looking for answers that supported their preconceived notions. So no matter what I said, it didn’t seem to matter, and I didn’t seem to convince anyone.”
Several weeks earlier, at the final Finance Board hearings for the UMC’s budget, a compromise was proposed by Garcia, and approved. The meeting was covered by The Campus Press in a live blog.
“Over the summer, the university treasurer’s office renegotiated many of the bonds the university pays, including ours,” Garcia said. “The result was a $45,000 savings to the UMC. We didn’t need it for the bond, and so we offered it back to finance board.”
The proposal included a provision for a zero percent increase in the budget and more importantly, no increase in student fees from the UMC. This would set up an ideal situation for this year’s UCSU officers.
Garcia proposed $45,000 to help fund Program Council and CU NightRide at the expense of a year’s worth of capital expenses, used for repairs and replacements within the UMC.
The dishwasher in the UMC food services is over 20 years old and held together with no more than a little luck. Garcia had hoped to purchase a new one this year, but without proper capital funds this is not possible.
The chairs in the UMC are from the 1960s, acquired before many students’ parents were in college. Without capital funds, these cannot be replaced either.
In the UMC’s repair shop, proper ventilation is lacking and violates fire code with a large hole in the place of a former chute. This is one of many major repairs needed in the UMC that may not be funded next year.
“Capital spending on an annual basis is supposed to be part of the plan, part of the process,” said Garcia. “That’s what we’ve been counting on. And for some reason, people want to change things this year. And not that I’m against change, but you also have to make sure that you understand the ramifications of that change.”
Garcia relieves concerns over code violations with an explanation of the UMC’s “rainy day” fund.
“There is a little over $400,000 in that fund. It’s part of a practice of making sure you have enough funds in an account for a building of this size; this is about a $40 million building,” he said. “The amount we have in there is nowhere near what we need, but it is a way of making sure we have some for major surprises.”
Some say that the UMC was too generous in its concessions to UCSU. Stacey Hammond, director of Program Council and a junior anthropology major, is thankful for Garcia’s generosity.
“It’s wonderful that the UMC is fully supporting our programs,” Hammond said. “In the past they have had Program Council and NightRide present budgets separate from the UMC, but when Carlos and other UMC staff members noticed that they wanted to cut all three, Carlos made the decision to include them in the budget so that we wouldn’t be targeted.”
However, the Legislative Council has different plans.
“Legislative Council views it as a bit short-sighted; using capital money for a single year to cover cost isn’t necessarily the best solution,” said Scott McEachron, Legislative Council representative-at-large and a senior history major.
McEachron said certain programs are unnecessary and warrant cuts.
“People really see NightRide as a benefit on this campus, safety and all that type of thing, whereas I think a lot of members of council look at Program Council as a luxury item,” he said.
Hammond looks at the situation differently.
“This group is clearly not in support of programming,” Hammond said. “How do you attract people to campus when there is no programming or campus life? You’re not going to bring in any revenue or bring in students; it’s not going to bring me to campus.”
Garcia is of a similar mind.
“It doesn’t seem to matter that there are other students that agree with us; there may be programs that people on the Council don’t agree with or support, but I think that folks would do well to remember that they are representing 28,000 students, not just themselves,” he said.
As the second budget hearing in front of Legislative Council approaches, Thursday at 7:00, Hammond is frustrated.
“We don’t know what’s going on exactly,” said Hammond. “It looks like they are going to do both votes in the same night, so where is the time to advocate if they are going to propose a cut for us, so we are in a limbo area. The legislative council doesn’t know how we operate; they don’t know what we need.”
View the complete interview with Carlos Garcia here.
Thursday: Entire programs eliminated, Wardenburg’s reputation questioned – the resounding consequences of serious budgetary reductions.
Stay tuned to thecampuspress.com for continued coverage, live blogs of the Thursday night meetings and breaking developments as they arise.