Student government unveiled Wednesday a plan to implement two new night bus routes, making CSUâ€™s safe-ride program the largest in the nation.
But, this advancement comes with a price tag to the tune of $119,000.
Four buses will take students from fixed locations in Old Town and drop them off at predetermined places that are known to have dense clusters of student housing. Each bus will run on Fridays and Saturdays from 11:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.
â€œItâ€™s a great idea,â€ said Keegan Schultz, director of the Associated Students of CSUâ€™s RamRide department. â€œIf people take the Old Town loop, then that greatly reduces the strain on RamRide. Itâ€™ll help reduce the wait time, which helps everyone.â€
The program is starting the first week of spring semester and ASCSU will shoulder $34,000 of the cost, which translates to $1.31 per CSU student every year. Student governmentâ€™s annual budget is approximately $1.9 million.
The other $85,000, explained Chase Eckerdt, director of governmental affairs for ASCSU, will come from Fort Collins Police Services, advertisement revenue and the $1 fee users must pay for each ride.
â€œItâ€™s not general funds, or sales tax money. Itâ€™s money thatâ€™s generated from the fines that people pay from the motor vehicle tickets,â€ said Jerry Schiager, interim Fort Collins Police Chief.
The financial burden to student government, however, wasnâ€™t budgeted. Eric Berlinberg, ASCSU president, had to come up with approximately $17,000 from his own administration to pay for the new program.
The next student body president will have to pay for the other $17,000 that completes the $34,000 commitment.
Howâ€™d he come up with the money?
Berlinberg ordered student government departments â€“â€“ including Student Services, University Affairs, RamRide and Academics â€“â€“ to cut money from their budgets to free up funds for the Old Town bus route program.
â€œWe want to take everything that we budgeted in the spring. Weâ€™re going to speak with each individual director and department head who oversees their budget and say, â€˜Based on the money youâ€™ve been allocated right now â€¦ what do you actually need money-wise? Is it more or is it less?â€™â€ he said. â€œIn a couple places it was more, in most places it was less.â€
RamRide, for example, had to cut $3,000. But Schultz isnâ€™t worried.
â€œAccording to what we have budgeted before â€¦ $3,000 will not affect operations in any way,â€ he said.
Berlinberg also pulled $10,000 from ASCSUâ€™s budget dedicated to â€œother campaign initiativesâ€ â€“â€“ a portion of student governmentâ€™s money that each president sets aside to follow through on ideas proposed by their former rival campaigns.
How will this affect Berlinbergâ€™s ability to fulfill other campaign promises?
â€œThereâ€™s always stuff that doesnâ€™t get fulfilled. Cooper wasnâ€™t able to light the â€˜A,â€™â€ said Matt Strauch, director of finance at ASCSU, in reference to last yearâ€™s student body president who promised to illuminate the universityâ€™s landmark by Horsetooth Reservoir.
Berlinberg promised in Wednesdayâ€™s ASCSU senate meeting to detail the progress heâ€™s made with each of his 44 campaign promises next week.
The student body president maintains that they will all be fulfilled.
Rebecca Lytle, an ASCSU senator representing the College of Business, agreed.
â€œI think if they can just keep it up, I really donâ€™t think it will have any impact on his other campaign initiatives,â€ she said.
Is he leaving money for the next student body presidentâ€™s administration?
Each presidential administration typically doesnâ€™t use all of the money it collects from the student body the year that itâ€™s in power. Cooper Anderson, ASCSU president from 2010 to 2011, left approximately $115,000 in â€œrolloverâ€ money to Berlinberg this year.
Berlinberg estimates he will leave $73,000 to the next administration.
At the same time, he said, â€œMy philosophy has always been that students this year have been paying for this year. We should be using their money efficiently and effectively for services and programs this year.â€
Tim Sellers, who served as ASCSU controller last year, doesnâ€™t believe any administration should leave rollover money to begin with.
â€œThe idea behind that is that one group of students should pay for the services that theyâ€™re getting,â€ he said. â€œThereâ€™s no reason that a senior this year should pay for next year when they wont see any of the benefits.â€
How does the rest of student government feel about the new programâ€™s impact on the budget?
Lytle, who represents the College of Business in CSUâ€™s student Senate, has previously expressed concerns with the way Berlinbergâ€™s moved around money to achieve various initiatives.
Recently, she helped push through Bill 4110, which is a constitutional amendment that would require Berlinberg to seek Senate approval of changes to ASCSUâ€™s budget.
She got the idea for the legislation when the student body president spoke on a separate budget matter in front of Senate.
â€œIâ€™m sure he didnâ€™t mean it this way, but it pretty much came out, â€˜Well, Iâ€™m the president, I can do what I want,â€™â€ she said. â€œIf the original creators of ASCSU wanted to have the president and vice-president make all the decisions for us, they would have made it like a high school student government and we wouldnâ€™t have all the checks and balances that we do so that it doesnâ€™t turn into a dictatorship.â€
Lytle maintains, however, that the Berlinbergâ€™s new plan will not place an unmanageable burden on the student government.
News Editors Erin Udell and Matt Miller contributed to this report.
Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By the numbers
Total cost of the Old Town bus route project.
Amount of project funding that will come from Fort Collins Police Services, advertisement revenue, and the $1 fee users must pay to use the service.
Amount of project funding that will come from ASCSU.
Amount of money given to Berlinbergâ€™s administration from last yearâ€™s president.
Amount of money Berlinbergâ€™s administration plans to leave next yearâ€™s president.