Funding for Rec Sports Master Plan comes under question

Rec Sports' Master Plan may see an increase in student funding following Monday's SSFC meeting.

Image By: Nithin Charlly

Rec Sports’ 2015-’16 budget presentation Monday raised questions about possible complications in the organization’s projected plans for updating and replacing recreational sporting facilities on the UW-Madison campus.

With rising concerns about how the state budget will impact UW-Madison’s spending, director of Rec Sports John Horn told the Student Services Finance Committee he is worried funding for the Master Plan will become scarce.

Donors to fund the Near West Field renovations have already been found, but the state budget’s financial pressures may make additional backing hard to find.

“We’re struggling a little bit,” Horn said. “As of now, we’re kind of out there, we’re floating on air.”

Given the current environment created by the proposed budget cuts, Horn announced Rec Sports will not ask for an increase in student funding due to concerns about the state budget. Segregated fees of future students who will use the facilities will fund 57 percent of the Master Plan’s costs, which students agreed to in the referendum that passed last year with 87 percent of votes in favor.

Not increasing student funding generated questions about Rec Sport’s ability to deal with emergency costs should they arise. Committee members said the organization needs to be able to deal with the unexpected, using Camp Randall Memorial Sports Center’s closing last year due to unforeseen flooding as an example.

“This isn’t a perfect world,” student representative Jessica Franco-Morales said.

SSFC members said they plan to recommend to the chancellor an increase in student funding by $7 starting in the next fiscal year to safeguard against any unanticipated financial shortfalls. ASM Vice Chair Derek Field speculated Rec Sports would be in support of an increase in student funding, though they have not taken any official steps to pursue this option.

“As fiscal stewards, I think we should lock in some sense of certainty now, as opposed to leaving so many uncertainties on the table for future students,” SSFC Chair Devon Maier said in a Monday release.

Horn addressed the possibility of complications by saying Rec Sports is prepared and hoping for success. He said they are implementing the first preventative maintenance program the division has seen to ensure they can be completely prepared for all stages of the plan.

“Believe it or not, across our history that dates back decades—and you might believe if you’ve seen our facilities—we have not had a preventative maintenance program,” Horn said. “[Not having one] has cost us dollars, real dollars that we could’ve foreseen had we had a program.”

However, revenue generated by memberships is slowly decreasing as Rec Sports is forced to charge more for people to use their facilities. This comes at a time of pressure to raise student wages to campus’ average amid projected revenue loss.

“I’d be scared about the prospect of what would happen in the next five years without additional revenue sources,” Horn said

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