SGA makes ‘tough calls’ on privilege fee budget, plans to callback more than $2 million

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Thursday night, Student Governing Organization leadership presented an updated draft for the proposed cuts to the privilege fee budget to the student senate, after realizing more severe deficits exist than initially projected.

The draft proposes a $2,069,212 callback, as well as a total 12.9 percent reduction for the overall Privilege Fee budget for FY21.

Tel Wittmer, student body president and senior in secondary education, said drafting the budget required “very tough calls.”

“This is the greatest privilege fee deficit in the history of the campus privilege fees,” Wittmer said. “To say that this is abnormal or bad is an understatement.”

Groups without budget reductions are at the highest risk of losing student employment, such as K-State Student Union Operations — one of the only organizations to see no proposed cuts.

“Our priorities that we were looking at when we were creating this budget have been maintaining … student employment and preserving the … health and wellbeing of our students,” Wittmer said.

While the vast majority of organizations will see significant decreases, those that traditionally go towards travel or hosting large events have the greatest cuts proposed.

Organizations facing the highest cuts are:

  • College of Architecture Planning and Design (90 percent)
  • McCain Auditorium (100 percent)
  • Campus Organizations (80 percent)
  • Open House (100 percent)
  • Rec Services Repair and Replacement (100 percent)
  • Rec Complex Maintenance (100 percent)
  • Sports Clubs Fee (100 percent)
  • Fine Arts Fee Student Organizations (100 percent)

By amount, the greatest decreases will be seen by organizations with larger initial operating budgets.

Student Health would be reduced by $712,327, although this factors in an additional $500,000 in federal COVID-19 relief funds for Lafene Health Center, and the Recreational Services Operations will lose $267,445 — 19 percent of it’s allocation.

Madison Brown, Privilege Fee Committee chair and senior in finance, said Lafene and the Recreational Services budget specifically had to be revisited after initial projections underestimated the deficit.

“We had gone through an initial recommended budget and then got some projections on what our deficit was gonna look like and it was a little bit larger than expected,” Brown said. “We had to take a second look at things.”

“Obviously that [Recreational Services cut] is a very large amount, but that’s something that was come to through some difficult discussions with Steve Martini, the director of Recreation Services, so that’s one area that we had additional conversations and looked at a bit harder, as well as Lafene,” Brown said.

The proposed decrease for SGA’s budget is six percent.

Nathan Bothwell, speaker of the student senate and senior in political science and communication studies, emphasized that even the proposed callback isn’t enough to balance the deficit.

“Even with this $2 million callback, we will still have to take … over $2 million out of our Bond Surplus Account, and we’re trying to be a little conservative on how much we take out of that account due to we don’t know how long COVID is going to go on and how long we’re going to feel the financial impact,” Bothwell said.

The Bond Surplus Account currently holds approximately $4.9 million.

Though bills are typically introduced two weeks before voting, Bothwell said the finalized bill will hopefully be introduced, debated and voted on in student senate next week via a special order, which requires a two-thirds majority vote to pass.

“I think it would be in our best interest to pass it early simply to give entity directors more time to process these budget cuts,” Bothwell said.

The Privilege Fee Committee will review the draft further on Monday, and the student senate will reconvene at 7 p.m. on Oct. 8 via Zoom.

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My name is Rebecca Vrbas. I’m the culture editor at the Collegian and a junior in journalism and mass communications. My hobbies include obsessing over an ever-expanding pool of musicals and cats (not the musical). I love writing because of the infinite intricacy of language, as well as its power to cultivate a sense of community through sharing experiences.