Note: The sentence "While most of SA's budget increases come from between 98 and 99 percent of the year's mandatory student activity fees, SA also has the opportunity to take money from its own reserves line," requires clarification. It is not the case that 98 to 99 percent of all mandatory student activity fees are put into SA's Budget Increases account, but it is the case that the entire SA budget stems from 98 to 99 percent of the mandatory student activity fees.
Each year, Student Association undergoes a standard budget audit to assess the previous year's transactions. Last week's audit revealed a $109,000 deficit left over from last year's executive board.
"[The finance company performing the audit] gives us a brief overview of how much we brought in, how much we spent, how much we moved from different places," said senior Tyler Ocon, SA vice president.
"For this year, they said that we're in good standing, but last year's [executive board] spent a lot more than they brought in, by about … $109,000."
Ocon said that much of the deficit is a result of last year's $70,000 concert budget increase.
"Last year's … concerts portion of Activities Commission asked for an extra $70,000," he said. "[The executive board] approved it, but really the money wasn't there for it, so they had to pull it out of reserves."
While most of SA's budget increases come from between 98 and 99 percent of the year's mandatory student activity fees, SA also has the opportunity to take money from its own reserves line.
Ocon said, however, that with the exception of last year's concert budget allocation, SA very rarely dips into its reserves fund. If student activity fees became voluntary, the fund would be enough to cover employee salaries, and a limited amount of student programming.
"It's important to remember that the purpose of reserves is to be available in the case that the referendum doesn't pass," said SA advisor Patty Hamilton-Rodgers at the Oct. 12 SA meeting.
"Last year's [executive board] followed the philosophy that the money is there, it should be used, [and] it needs to be used for everyone," Ocon said. "Because of such poor showing in terms of Gym Class Heroes two years ago, they felt that building up everyone's events and rebuilding Student Association was better by giving the money to the organizations that needed it. I don't really know whether they were aware … that they were spending so much, but that's how it came out to be."
Despite the deficit, Ocon said that student organizations will not receive less money this year. Because last year's program advisor resigned after the spring semester with no replacement, SA was able to allocate the position's salary, about $31,000, to this year's budget increases. Ocon also said that this year's executive board will be more conservative with SA funds.
"We, as an executive board, are going to be a little more careful in looking at where the money's going, and that it's being used for the purposes as dictated in our financial policy," he said. "We're required to use our proper judgment in terms of where the activity fee money is going. That's what we were voted in to do."