SG rethinks program funding priorities

When budget cuts were needed, Student Government President Nick Phelps looked to the past. Phelps studied SG budgets from the last six years to determine where to trim funding.

“We examined where the money went and how it was used,” Phelps said. “We were looking to see if the money was spent wisely.”

Last year SG spent $238,020 on Campus Services. This year that number is down to $144,150.

Because of an overall budget cut of more than $130,000, funding to some campus programs was reduced or eliminated.The DVD rental service and UK Book Exchange were cut from the budget completely. Compared to last year, funding was decreased for SafeCats by $12,500, Cats Convoy by $8,000 and Peer Tutoring by $38,350, but Phelps said he worked to make sure the groups received funding from other sources, such as the Provost’s office.

Another factor in the cuts was the level of involvement organizations had with SG.

“We found (in past budgets) that most of the money went toward successful events and good programming,” Phelps said. “But SG didn’t have a lot of involvement. There are different groups we feel we can work with to increase unity.”

One of these groups is the Violence, Intervention and Prevention Center. VIP Center director Dorothy Edwards said SG is not only funding a peer education program, but is planning on significant involvement.

“They are not only giving us money, they are giving us their time, energy and influence,” Edwards said. “They really are putting their money where their mouth is.”

SG allotted $1,500 for a new project that will place cameras inside the Johnson Center so students can see how crowded the facility is or see if a certain machine is available. The cameras will provide a live feed that students can access through the SG Web site, a feature that Phelps said would likely increase traffic for the site.

The one-time expense for the installation of the cameras is a valuable investment, Phelps said.

“Everyone from undergrads to off-campus students will be able to use this,” he said. “Also it will increase traffic to our Web site. It is an investment to increase communication.”

Channel 50, Wildcat Wheels and Childcare Grants all received increases in funding.

Phelps said SG was obligated by a contract to give Channel 50 $10,000, but he decided to double the amount to $20,000.

“UK needs a student-run television channel,” Phelps said. “They have the people to do it, but they need the equipment.”

Jodee McElfresh, a graduate assistant in the Office of Student Involvement, is an adviser for Channel 50 and said the money will help the station expand.

“Right now we’re only working with two cameras,” McElfresh said. “We want to turn it into something more and be a serious news outlet for campus.”

The increase for Wildcat Wheels — up $1,000 from last year to $3,000 — will allow the shop to stay open an extra day, Phelps said, and the Childcare Grants needed more funding due to the large number of applicants last year. The amount allocated for the grants doubled this year from $4,000 to $8,000.

One additional expense to the budget was covering part of the SG adviser’s salary. For the first year, SG will cover 45% of the salary, or $23,500. In subsequent years, Student Affairs will pay for the entire salary, so Phelps said the one time expense was worth the cost.

“The adviser position was a priority,” Phelps said. “It is a wise investment, and a one-time thing.”

DanceBlue will receive $10,000 from SG this year; last year it was funded by an outside grant. Phelps said for a student government to fund this type of project is not unusual.

“SG’s across the nation fund dance marathons, so it is a great thing that SG can help this tradition continue to grow,” Phelps said.

The SG operational expenses cost $78,750 this year, down from last year’s expenses of $110,500. The costs include office expenses, the Leadership Development Program, and Senate and SG staff salaries.

The SG president is paid a salary equal to one year of in-state tuition for UK. The salary comes from the Office of Student Involvement and is not affected by the SG budget.

However, some salaries decreased, including Phelps’ executive support staff, Senate President Tyler Montell and Montell’s Senate support staff. Montell’s salary went from $5,000 last year to $3,000.