With a proposed 2002-2003 budget of more than $795,000, Students’ Association groups are straining the SA budget. The SA Appropriations Committee, which parcels out funds for student groups, is trying to slice $30,000 off the proposal before final budgeting occurs Tuesday.

“We’re reviewing what all the groups are asking for and if they’re trying to add any new programs or anything extra, we have to cut those,” junior and SA treasurer Clark Van Vliet said.

In addition to the $724,025.86 requested by student groups, the SA budget also includes $25,000 for a supplemental fund and $46,000 for an equipment fund. Groups that find themselves strapped for funds or new equipment midyear, as the Debate Union did this year, may appeal to SAAC for extra money from the two funds.

The mandatory undergraduate student activities fee of $175 constitutes each year’s budget money of $665,000. Money unspent from the previous year goes into a surplus fund, which is $246,000 this year.

According to SA rules, at least 10 percent of the activities fee, or $66,500, must be in the surplus fund at all times. This fund is reserved for emergencies ? for example, if an expensive piece of equipment were to break midyear, the surplus could pay for it.

SAAC is hesitant to dip heavily into the surplus. In order to meet last year’s demands, SAAC took $98,000 of surplus to supplement the student activities fee, bringing last year’s budget up to $763,542.43.

This year, because of increased membership and programming, groups are asking for even more. Hesitant to take $130,000 from the surplus, SAAC is hoping to keep it down to $100,000. In a meeting Tuesday, SAAC cut total group funds down by $13,000 and hopes to eliminate more by the time final budgeting occurs.

Because of the funding crunch, the student activities fee may soon increase. Next year, Van Vliet will propose to raise the fee by $20 or $25. He must bring his recommendation to SA Senate, who then takes it to the Board of Trustees.

For now, UR Concerts, Graphic Arts, Cinema Group, Campus Activities Board, Hartnett Gallery and Off Broadway On Campus have already agreed to accept less money than they had originally requested.

“If they had asked for a huge increase or if they had been spending irresponsibly, we looked at their proposal and pointed out ways they could manage their funds better,” Van Vliet said.

This year’s budgeting process has faced a special challenge with the departure of longtime Director of Student Activities Rob Rouzer. Budgeting is on schedule, Van Vliet said, but it has taken much longer and required more work.

As of now, 21 of the 38 SA groups are slated to receive a higher net subsidy than they did last year. The subsidy is the group’s expenses minus the group’s revenue.

Cinema Group has requested a substantial increase with a budget of $27,970, up from last year’s $14,879.

“We’re trying to expand our programs and improve the quality of the movies and the movie-going experience,” junior and Cinema Group chairperson Anthony DiMattia said.

The group wants to update its antiquated equipment and install digital surround-sound without raising ticket prices. It must also account for the rising cost of movies and will start showing free independent and foreign films as well as free DVDs in the pub.

Newly SA funded groups, such as the Debate Union, Medical Emergency Response Team, Men Against Sexual Assault and the Thelion Society have inflated the budget. However, groups such as Coalition Against Sexual Harassment and Assault, Mock Trial, TV Club and Varsity Pep Band either have gone defunct, merged with another group or no longer need funds.

The Student Activities Office, CAB, Club Sports, SAAC, UR Concerts and the Outside Speakers Committee receive the largest subsidies.

“The numbers show groups are more active, have more membership and are doing more programs,” Van Vliet said.

Le can be reached at cle@campustimes.org.

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