Senate passes operational budget, salary increases during semester’s first meeting

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences College Council President George Khalaf spoke at the downtown student government meeting on Friday, where the senate unanimously passed the semester's operational budget. (Kristin Fankhauser/DD)

The Downtown student government unanimously passed an operational budget for the 2011-2012 school year on Friday, with more than half of the $90,000 budget to be spent on salaries.

The largest individual salary, $6,000, is slated for President Joseph Grossman this year, with Vice President David Bakardjiev receiving the next highest at $4,000.

The directors of administration, finance, public relations, parliamentary procedures and the Arizona Students’ Association will all receive $3,500 this year.

These figures are all much higher than last year, when the director positions received $1,600 and the president and vice president earned $3,500 and $3,000, respectively.

At the final Senate meeting last year, the outgoing senators recommended the president and vice president both take a $500 pay cut.

The budget also increases senator’s stipends from $600 to $1,000 per year. However, article 5, section 6 of the Senate bylaws states the Senate cannot change senator salaries for the current academic year.

“The stipend amounts are comparable to those of other student governments at nearby universities,” said Danielle Chavez, director of public relations for the Downtown student government. “The amount of work student government members do is equivalent to a part-time job.”

The student-body president of the University of Arizona received a little more than $6,200 last year; the vice president earned about $4,650.

The money used in the operational budget does not come from student fees, Chavez said, noting that Downtown student government actually received more money than they requested from ASU administration.

James Rund, senior vice president of Educational Outreach and Student Services, gave the Downtown student government $5,000 more than requested in spring, and $27,000 more than last year.

“The passage of today’s budget invests in the growth and much-needed leadership of our downtown student government. It took hours of negotiations but the end result is something I am proud of,” said Grossman in a statement on Friday.

Less than two minutes on Friday were spent discussing the operational budget. A senator used nearly all of that time to promote it. No deliberation into the budget’s specifics occurred.

Grossman said this was because the senate’s four senators and Executive Board had spent nearly 15 hours during the senate retreat from Aug. 10 to Aug. 12 debating the budget.

Bakardjiev also said government members spent a long time debating the budget, but journalism junior Andres Cano, who was confirmed as director of parliamentary procedures on Friday, said they actually did not spend much time on the budget at the Senate retreat.

However, because the budget was not “formally discussed” at the retreat, Chavez said no records were kept of the discussions.

Arizona’s open meetings law, however, states that records must be kept for all meetings of a public body, regardless of the formality of the discussions taking place (A.R.S. § 38-431). A meeting can qualify as an “executive session” under certain exceptions, but none would apply to the discussion of a budget. Meeting minutes are required by law to be taken for all meetings, even for executive sessions.

Because no official minutes were taken during deliberations, how much discussion and revision of the budget was actually done is unknown.

Three students were also confirmed to positions in Downtown student government on Friday. Two of the positions filled were on the Executive Board, with Cano confirmed as director of parliamentary procedures and journalism senior Rudy Rivas as the new director of administration.

Cano is the first to fill his position for this administration while Rivas is taking over the seat left vacant when journalism sophomore Brittany Morris resigned on July 30.

“I feel if someone is going to be director of admin, they should be here for four years, because they understand how the campus works,” Rivas said at Friday’s meeting.

Both Rivas and Cano ran against Grossman in spring’s election. Cano was a presidential candidate with Morris as his running mate, while Rivas ran as a vice-presidential candidate with nutrition sophomore Diana Inzunza.

Zack Lindsay, senator for the College of Nursing and Health Innovation, was confirmed as the “senate leader” on Friday as well.

The operational budget allocates $2,000 in salary to the senate leader; however, no such position officially exists in the Downtown constitution.

Chavez said an error in the agenda led to the senate leader position being voted on, so the vote will be voided and presented to the Senate in the future.

The first funds of the year were also distributed Friday, with nearly $20,000 doled out to four different organizations.

The largest amount of money allocated, $15,500, will be used by the Downtown student government to continue supplying the New York Times on the Downtown campus this year.

The government pays for the number of newspapers that are taken from the stands out of the 250 that are distributed to the campus every weekday.

Money was also allocated to ASU Downtown Young Democrats so they can attend the 34th Annual Awards Gala in Washington, D.C., put on by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute honoring Hispanic Heritage Month.

Cano, the new director of parliamentary procedures, also serves as the president of the ASU Downtown Young Democrats and spoke on behalf of the organization’s request to receive funds prior to being confirmed for his position by the Senate. Cano was also a 2010 fall intern for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.

The $2,913.04 will be used for five event tickets and airfare and housing for four people.

The Social Work Student Organization also received $308.42 for a back-to-school mixer at a Mexican restaurant off-campus.

Finally, Downtown Campus Recreation requested and received $285.30 from the Senate, which will be used for personnel costs at their indoor kickball tournament this week. The student organization is expected to request the rest of their funds at the senate meeting on Aug. 26, which could approach $70,000.

Members of the Executive Board and Senate said they did not feel comfortable allocating much of their more than $130,000 semester budget at the first meeting, instead funding campus recreation for a week and agreeing to revisit the larger allocation.

All funds allocated passed the Senate unanimously with little questioning or debate.

Contact the reporter at connor.radnovich@asu.edu

Correction: August 8, 2011

An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled Sen. Zack Lindsay’s name as “Zach Lindsay.”

Comments

  1. “$6,000, is slated for President Joseph Grossman”. This on top of the $5,000 dollar scholarship he gets from Rund’s office?!?!?
    So he gets $11,000 for the year while everyone else gets $4,000 and less??? I’ve lost faith in my campus. I feel like tempe..

  2. Why are these things left in the hands of students? Why does a group of students decide whether a kickball tournament receives funding or not? They answer to no one but themselves, and the fact that the university even allows for a student government is merely to create the appearance that students do in fact have a say in what university money is and is not spent on. The process is basically students deciding how much scholarship money they can get away with taking. These students should be compensated in a minimal fashion, making it worth their time but not as incentive to win votes to line their pockets. The system itself is the root of the problem, because who can blame the students for taking what the system allows them to get?

  3. There’s nothing wrong with student govt. I think it’s a great way for students to really learn how govt works and that there are good/bad consequences for electing good/bad leaders.
    Hopefully this fiasco will direct this year’s students to vote more intelligently than last year’s students did.

  4. The fact they gave themselves raises isn’t a big deal to me. It just seems the process or discussion about it is unclear. According to the article Joe and David say they talked about it for a while (15 hours apparently is what Joe said) while Andres says it was not discussed all that much. They are all working together as part of USG D. So to have contradictory versions of the story is a little unsettling. One of them has to be lying, or at the very least “mistaken”. Not recording minutes doesn’t seem like a big deal unless they didn’t really discuss it much on the retreat, which again, seems to be in question even by members of the same govt.

    I’m just wondering what exactly is the truth on how the discussion of the budget went down or how much time was given to it during the retreat. Whether or not raises should have been given is a whole different debate that both sides can probably make a solid case. Lying, however, as it seems either Joe/David or Andres is doing, seems a bit off. Maybe one is mistaken, maybe I”m mistaken. Just looking for clarification.

  5. I would like to know where that extra $27,000 came from. In a time where “we must all make sacrifices” because of the budget cuts, it seems like Runds office doesn’t have that issue. Where did this money come from? Did Tempe keep their low salaries as stated last semester? (Tempe President making $5,000 a year). CONOR- please find these answers.

    Thank you,
    Concerned

    P.S.,
    what is a senate leader and what would they do to earn 2k a year?

    P.P.S.,
    “However, article 5, section 6 of the Senate bylaws states the Senate cannot change senator salaries for the current academic year.” That’s only after they’ve voted on a yearly budget. It means that they cant change salaries again 2 months or 2 weeks after they vote an original budget in. SENATORS! You DO get this increase!!!

  6. Interesting…. Where is the money coming from for this operational budget surplus? I thought the University was so strapped for cash that everyone has had a budget cut. We did just let go of all of our custodial staff. By the way, to put it in perspective, $27,000 would could supplement over 10 work study positions for student employment at the DPC. But we should all understand, it is more important that Joe gets a raise instead of creating jobs in these hard times for students.

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