SFC prepares for budget deliberations

The Student Fee Committee held its final meeting yesterday before deliberations over the 2011–12 budget begin next week.

The Student Fee Committee held its final meeting yesterday before deliberations over the 2011–12 budget begin next week.

This year, the SFC is reviewing roughly

30 budgets submitted by departments and groups across Portland State, including student government and various publications, funding boards and student-run services. Each group has been assigned an individual SFC liaison.

In previous years, the SFC was responsible for funding student groups, and therefore had to look at over 100 budget requests. These groups are now funded by the Organizational Budget Council, which is overseen by the SFC.

SFC Chair Krystine McCants is glad for this change from previous years. With fewer budgets to review, SFC liaisons can have more one-on-one time with each group.

“Hopefully that will lead to less appeals,” McCants said.

The SFC will devote the next few weeks to deliberations and will hold meetings on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Parties can appeal the budgets put forth by the SFC, which will then sit for another round of deliberations to be handed to the ASPSU Student Senate in late February.

After the Senate reviews the budgets, the SFC and the Senate will present a final draft to Portland State President Wim Wiewel. This usually takes place in early April.

The SFC and the Senate will submit a simplified version of the budget to Wiewel. This budget will include three major categories: athletics, student union activities and educational, cultural and student government.

At Thursday’s meeting, the SFC prepared for a grueling few weeks.

“I know how it gets. We can discuss things to death,” said Aaron Aiken, SFC member and a senior at PSU.

Jennifer Chambers, a senior budget analyst at PSU and the SFC adviser, projected that the SFC has an overall working figure of approximately $13.6 million to allocate. She generated this number by multiplying the per-term student fee of $218 by next year’s expected enrollment.

During its meeting, SFC members discussed the difficulty of controlling SFC funds given to the Athletics Department. Athletics draws its revenue from the SFC, foundation funding and from the university’s Education & General Fund, a melting pot that makes tracing the use of student fees challenging.

“Funding an increase in a coach’s salary…is not a student’s issue,” Aiken said.

However, controlling the specifics of the Athletics budget is impossible, McCants said.

“We can note a philosophical objection to expenditure on certain items,” she said, but added that with so many different revenue streams funding the department, accountability to the SFC is tenuous.

Athletics Director Michael Chrisholm said that he looks at the budget holistically.

“If it gets to the point where it’s too restrictive, that impedes your ability to implement programs,” he said.

Student wages were another topic of discussion yesterday. Some SFC members proposed a flat wage, while others defended the current hourly range of $8.50 to $12.50. The latter figure is the current cap on student pay.

“It should be case-by-case. Just like wages anywhere else, they should be determined [at PSU] based on the amount of training and specialization involved,” said Mart Stewart-Smith, the vice chair of the SFC.

With so many issues to debate, McCants is focused on maintaining a timely schedule over the next few weeks of deliberations.

“I’m trying to keep an eye on efficiency,” she said.

Her ultimate goal, however, is to avoid raising the student fee.

At least one student eating lunch in the Smith cafeteria on Thursday was supportive of the SFC agenda.

“In general, as long as those funds go back to activities, it’s fine,” said Aaron McCoy, a senior at PSU. “Athletics and other student activities are all good and positive.” ?

Correction: In the article titled “SFC prepares for budget deliberations,” it was reported that Michael Chisholm is the athletics director. The correct name, however, is Michael “Torre” Chisholm. The Vanguard regrets its error.