By Jonathan Smith, Editor in Chief
Amid confusion and questions of financial mishandlings, the Students’ Association this week found itself owing $30,000 for the electronic scoring in the bowling alley that should have been covered by last year’s SA budget.
Executive treasurer Tyler Cosgrove explained to the new Student Congress in its first meeting Wednesday night how last year’s administration overspent its budget by almost $80,000. About $48,000 of that was covered by budget rollovers from previous years, leaving the $30,000 electronic bowling to be paid this year.
“This is not the fault of the voting members from last year,” said executive president Layne Rouse during the meeting.
Exactly who is at fault remains as unclear as how $268,000 was spent by Congress last year, the executive officers said.
Cosgrove said poor budget documentation last year has made it difficult to tell where some of last year’s money was spent. He said the officers had not yet spoken with last year’s executive treasurer, David Shinn, or president, Jonathan Wilkerson, who could know more about the situation.
Although they will continue to investigate what happened, Rouse and Cosgrove said the main focus now is to move ahead and decide how Congress will cope with a $65,000 budget instead of $95,000.
“We can tighten up on our spending and be more frugal,” Cosgrove said, “but much of the brunt will be felt by student groups.”
Cosgrove said this semester he had planned to budget about $40,000 to student groups, whose budgets were due Tuesday; however, that amount is being reevaluated now.
Next week before the budget is presented to Congress Sept. 11, Cosgrove said he would meet with student group representatives and give them the opportunity to prioritize their budget requests.
Congress will also be looking for alternative means for funding other than the student activity fee, Cosgrove said, which could include grants. These funds could be used to make up some of this year’s deficit as well as provide additional money for future semesters.
Cosgrove said he hopes this crisis will bring about new safeguards and budget procedures to avoid such a situation in the future.
Among the new procedures he would like to see are weekly budget updates to Congress and better, more exact documentation of spending so it will be easier to tell how money was spent.
Also on the agenda for Congress’ first meeting was inducting the newly elected freshmen.
Elections were Tuesday and filled such positions as freshman senators and academic building and residence hall representatives.
Rouse said Congress now has 37 of the 58 available seats filled and that most vacant seats will be filled by appointment in the coming weeks.