A nearly $20,000 budget excess has returned to the Associated Students of UNM to finance items cut last year.
The balance forward — totalling $18,877 — will be used to restore the funds of the ASUNM agency, Lobo Spirit, which hosts spirit events like this week’s Red Rally.
The balance forward is paid for by a portion of extra money not used by ASUNM entities. Specifically, $11,196 is coming from the Southwest Film Center, $2,575 from the Elections Commission and $5,105 from Lobo Spirit itself.
ASUNM agencies retain 80 percent of their balance forwards, and the remaining 20 percent returns to the ASUNM general fund. The retained money is typically redistributed throughout agencies to pay for various line items cut in the budget process.
Items removed by Senators last year included: $3,000 to pay for various stages and dance floors, $2,000 for Red Rally volunteer T-shirts and $1,200 for “promotional activities and events,” the budget described.
In total, the cuts would have decreased the Lobo Spirit budget by over $25,000. After the balance forward, its available budget has only decreased by about $7,000 from what was requested.
“I am confident that the money that was allocated to Lobo Spirit will allow the agency to better serve the undergraduate student body through the events they will put on this coming school year,” said Francine Briones, the chair of the ASUNM Finance committee, which passed the balance forward at its first committee meeting last month.
During that meeting, there was no discussion among senators over the balance forward, and Sen. Jordan Montoya posed the sole question to president Brooks, who was making the presentation.
There was no further discussion once Brooks responded to Montoya’s question.
“I was confident the transfer Brooks requested would be very beneficial to all students,” Montoya said in a written statement after the hearing.
While the $18,000 balance forward returning to ASUNM funds a small portion of its total budget, it is over five times more than the average $5,000 that student organizations receive.
Each year, every ASUNM-funded student organization must receive a budget from ASUNM’s nearly $1 million general fund, about $700,000 of which are available for student-serving organizations.
Internal agencies within ASUNM — like Lobo Spirit and the Southwest Film Center — also go through that process.
In the latest budget period, the 13 ASUNM entities received $510,000 — 74 percent of the student-available fund. The remaining 125 student organizations were given the rest.
“The goal of my administration is that all of that money is going back to students,” said ASUNM President Noah Brooks.
“Sometimes it’s really hard to see why student organizations aren’t getting that money,” he said, adding that the $510,000 is going back to students who wouldn’t otherwise benefit from ASUNM funding of traditional student organizations.
“Whether the money is going back to students from us or from student organizations, it really doesn’t matter as long as students have the best college experience,” Brooks said.
Of the $510,000, 48 percent is used to pay the 62 student salaries and stipends listed on the agencies’ budgets. Many agencies have numerous students receiving stipends for heading individual events or working the semesterly elections.
Within Brooks’ office, there are five salaried positions, including Brooks himself who is paid $10,200 in addition to a tuition-covering scholarship.
Along with Brooks, the salaried positions within the president’s office include: Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff, Director of Communications and Deputy Director of Communications.
Vice President Sally Midani receives a slightly lower salary at $7,650 and a tuition-covering scholarship.
Other paid positions include a $1,632 stipend for the Southwest Film Center projectionist, a $1,000 stipend for the Finance Chair and a $30,953 salary for a full-time front desk person.
Brendon Gray is a beat reporter for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @notgraybrendon.