SA Budget Review Committee releases preliminary budgets for next academic year

Student Association Director of Business Affairs senior William Fagan announced the 2015–2016 academic year budgets for approximately 60 SA funded organizations on March 6. Fagan and the Budget Review Committee––which consists of 10 other students and SA Director of Programs, Personnel and Finance Kate Rebban––decided the budgets.

Of these aforementioned organizations, three filed for appeals. “It was really great,” Fagan said. “Overall, people were pretty happy. A couple of the appeals are pretty quick fixes; it’s nothing major.”

Activities Commission Concerts Coordinator junior Gannon Andrews explained that he was pleased with the concert’s budget, which has increased for next year. The budget was cut from $85,000 to $51,000 in 2014. In 2015–2016 it will be raised to approximately $67,000.

“It went really well for us this year because we’re traveling on the momentum from Walk the Moon,” Andrews said. “Because Walk the Moon went so well, we asked for more money. We got a raise in our budget, which is awesome, so I hope next year to go back to one concert in Kuhl Gymnasium because we have a little more wiggle room with our money now.”

SA Director of Student Programming senior Alexis O’Hara agreed that based upon the recent changes to the concert budget reverting back to one larger concert is the best option for Geneseo.

“Getting a certain genre in the budget amount we had this past year is really, really difficult and we can only reach so many people with that amount of money, especially when it’s such a small venue concert,” she said.

After the budget cuts, AC decided to host two smaller concerts––one each semester––in the College Union Ballroom, which has a capacity of roughly 700 people, instead of in Kuhl Gym, which can hold 3,000.

While last semester’s Walk the Moon concert sold out all 700 available tickets in under a week, ticket sales for the Mary Lambert concert on Sunday March 29 have been low.

“The first concert worked really well. Mary Lambert hasn’t sold as well as we hoped,” Andrews said. “I think it’s because students don’t realize Walk the Moon was half the concert’s budget, so we’re not working with the full budget [this semester] like we normally are. So, it’s not someone huge; it’s somebody who’s a little less expensive but still out there and popular.”

O’Hara expressed hopes that next year’s concert will reach a larger portion of the student body.

“We reach the most people on campus collectively––in terms of Activities Commission–and especially the concerts––so that was our main argument,” O’Hara said. “We could go back to the one system and be able to have more people on campus attend the concert.”

Fagan explained that the passage of the SA referendum earlier this month in which students voted to increase their mandatory SA funds by $5 next year affected the amount of money the Budget Review Committee could allocate to organizations.

“With the bigger organizations that have the bigger budgets––especially like Activities Commission that really need the budgets to thrive––just making sure that they have enough funds to thrive [is a challenge],” he said.

As far as the budget review process goes, Fagan explained that he starts at the beginning of the spring semester by sending each organization a memo outlining the budget review process and highlighting important dates, such as when budget review hearings will be conducted and when the preliminary budgets will be available.

Fagan and the Budget Review Committee chair the budget review hearings held for two weeks in February, and the organization presidents and treasurers are asked to attend.

“We ask the clubs to tell us a little bit about them, why they benefit campus, why they should continue to be recognized by SA; give us a breakdown of what changes they want to be made to their budget and then we would open it up to question and answer,” Fagan said.

The budgets announced on March 6 are preliminary budgets and Fagan noted that they could be subject to change, if necessary. The budgets will become official after they are passed by the SA Executive Committee in a two reading process. Fagan will present the readings on April 15 and 22.

Fagan added that the Budget Review Committee made decisions expecting the referendum to pass. Had it not passed, cuts would have had to be made after preliminary budgets were announced, something he explained in the packet distributed to all organizations at the start of the budget review process.

“It was nice, a lot of the budgets stayed the same this year,” Fagan said. “We looked at the budgets on their own, isolated them and tried to eliminate any bias. We really thought, ‘Ok, what is fair for this club in order for them to succeed?’ Because that’s what we want.”