Nov 162011
 
Authors: Andrew Carrera

Student government unveiled Wednesday a plan to implement two new night bus routes, making CSU’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.

“It’s a great idea,” said Keegan Schultz, director of the Associated Students of CSU’s RamRide department. “If people take the Old Town loop, then that greatly reduces the strain on RamRide. It’ll help reduce the wait time, which helps everyone.”

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 government’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.

“It’s not general funds, or sales tax money. It’s money that’s generated from the fines that people pay from the motor vehicle tickets,” said Jerry Schiager, interim Fort Collins Police Chief.

The financial burden to student government, however, wasn’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.

How’d he come up with the money?

Berlinberg ordered student government departments –– including Student Services, University Affairs, RamRide and Academics –– to cut money from their budgets to free up funds for the Old Town bus route program.

“We want to take everything that we budgeted in the spring. We’re going to speak with each individual director and department head who oversees their budget and say, ‘Based on the money you’ve been allocated right now … what do you actually need money-wise? Is it more or is it less?’” he said. “In a couple places it was more, in most places it was less.”

RamRide, for example, had to cut $3,000. But Schultz isn’t worried.

“According to what we have budgeted before … $3,000 will not affect operations in any way,” he said.

Berlinberg also pulled $10,000 from ASCSU’s budget dedicated to “other campaign initiatives” –– a portion of student government’s money that each president sets aside to follow through on ideas proposed by their former rival campaigns.

How will this affect Berlinberg’s ability to fulfill other campaign promises?

“There’s always stuff that doesn’t get fulfilled. Cooper wasn’t able to light the ‘A,’” said Matt Strauch, director of finance at ASCSU, in reference to last year’s student body president who promised to illuminate the university’s landmark by Horsetooth Reservoir.

Berlinberg promised in Wednesday’s ASCSU senate meeting to detail the progress he’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.

“I think if they can just keep it up, I really don’t think it will have any impact on his other campaign initiatives,” she said.

Is he leaving money for the next student body president’s administration?

Each presidential administration typically doesn’t use all of the money it collects from the student body the year that it’s in power. Cooper Anderson, ASCSU president from 2010 to 2011, left approximately $115,000 in “rollover” money to Berlinberg this year.

Berlinberg estimates he will leave $73,000 to the next administration.

At the same time, he said, “My 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.”

Tim Sellers, who served as ASCSU controller last year, doesn’t believe any administration should leave rollover money to begin with.

“The idea behind that is that one group of students should pay for the services that they’re getting,” he said. “There’s no reason that a senior this year should pay for next year when they wont see any of the benefits.”

How does the rest of student government feel about the new program’s impact on the budget?

Lytle, who represents the College of Business in CSU’s student Senate, has previously expressed concerns with the way Berlinberg’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 ASCSU’s budget.

She got the idea for the legislation when the student body president spoke on a separate budget matter in front of Senate.

“I’m sure he didn’t mean it this way, but it pretty much came out, ‘Well, I’m the president, I can do what I want,’” she said. “If 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 wouldn’t have all the checks and balances that we do so that it doesn’t turn into a dictatorship.”

Lytle maintains, however, that the Berlinberg’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 news@collegian.com.

By the numbers

$119,000

Total cost of the Old Town bus route project.

$85,000

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.

$34,000

Amount of project funding that will come from ASCSU.

$115,000

Amount of money given to Berlinberg’s administration from last year’s president.

$73,000

Amount of money Berlinberg’s administration plans to leave next year’s president.

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