Posted March 13, 2017
In addition to tuition, students at UW-River Falls pay a number of fees to support services and programs. One of these is the little-known municipal services fee, which pays for local emergency services including the fire department and police.
The Student Senate recently approved the fee for the next fiscal year. The fee is $15 per semester, $3.75 for winter (J-term) and $7.50 for summer.
Budget and Policy Analyst Brenda Irvin said that fee has remained the same since the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
A fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30. Last year the university collected $167,380 through the municipal services fee.
“We are a state entity. The state of Wisconsin contracts with municipalities for these services,” Irvin said. “So, the city police, fire, ambulance, rescue operations — these emergency services are all part of the municipal services. The state of Wisconsin contracts for that coverage.” The UWRF Police Department also receives some of the funding.
River Falls emergency services do not get paid directly from UWRF. Rather, “the UW system pays the state of Wisconsin, the state of Wisconsin contracts with each local municipality. We pay an annual fee,” Irvin said.
Each year, there is money left over in the fund that carries over to the next year. This gives the budget some wiggle room so no fees are “left in the red,” Irvin said. “At the end of last fiscal year, there was $1,427.60”.
Projections are made at the beginning of each year regarding how much services will cost. Based on those projections, segregated fees are either adjusted or left the same depending on the amount left over from the previous year.
“We are trying to make sure we have emergency services for our students,” Irvin said, “and faculty and staff, and campus visitors and the community that come to our campus.”
Different committees exist within the UWRF Student Senate to help make the best decisions for the university. The Student Services Board is responsible for handling the municipal services fee.
“Once they have reviewed the budget, then it goes before all of Student Senate for review. It is always in the agenda, it is public, all students are welcome to attend Student Senate to learn more about the process, to engage in asking questions about the budget while it is up for review, then Student Senate will vote to either recommend the budget as it is presented or it will go back for further review,” said Irvin.
Once the budget is approved, it then moves to the chancellor.
Irvin said she doesn’t recall any students besides those involved in Student Senate being present voice their concerns or questions about the municipal services fee.
Some students are unaware of what segregated fees are used for. Anna Johnson, a senior marketing communications major, pays the fees of a full-time student.
“I really have no clue, I guess I figured they went into getting supplies for my classes,” Johnson said. “I have never really thought about what a segregated fee is.”
Segregated fees are either allocable or non-allocable. Allocable fees mainly support student organizations while non-allocable fees provide support for different student services and facilities. The largest non-allocable fee, $234.33 per semester, funds the University Center on campus.