By Jonathan Smith, Editor in Chief
The Students’ Association’s first official business meeting of the semester Wednesday began by revisiting a project approved last semester.
Sikes Hall Rep. Lauren Hart explained that although the university’s administration was in favor of Congress’ proposed project to connect the Sikes and Williams Performing Arts Center parking lots, the money was not available this semester for the $9,000 project.
Connecting the parking lots would have allowed traffic flow to circulate around Sikes instead of coming to a dead end. In November, SA approved funding for part of the project-an amount to be determined at a later date. On Wednesday, Congress reaffirmed that commitment by unanimously approving $2,000 for the construction costs.
Although the university cannot fund the rest of the project this semester, Hart said she still wants to see the parking lots connected.
“I’m going to do my very best to find donors because I want to see this done before the end of the semester,” Hart said.
Hart also told Congress that costs could be significantly reduced if the project was completed in conjunction with another planned project on campus. She said she would continue looking for ways to fund the cost whether in its entirety or at a reduced cost.
Executive treasurer Tyler Cosgrove also told Congress several student groups had come to him complaining about the amount of money they received from SA. He asked Congress members to help him by further explaining to student group leaders they knew that SA did have tight budget restrictions.
Student groups asked for about as much money as Congress had for its entire budget-about $111,000. The budget, which Congress approved two weeks ago, called for $46,580 to go to student groups.
“The main need is to be able to communicate to them one-on-one that we aren’t going to be able to fund them 100 percent,” Cosgrove said after the meeting.
Student group budgets are paired down using several budgetary principles, such as how much SA will give toward transportation, hotel and conference fees.
Congress was also able to have $12,567 rollover from last semester to this semester’s budget.
Cosgrove said the result was more frugal spending within Congress and some groups not using all the money budgeted to them.
“We were not wasting money just because it was sitting there, and we had it,” he said.
Cosgrove said he is experimenting with several new ideas this semester for the budget and finances.
Instead of making Congress members go through the appropriations committee to fund projects that come up during the semester, Cosgrove set aside $3,000 for Congress to use at its discretion during the semester.
He also organized an SA finance committee that will eventually be responsible for helping fund Congress and student groups through loans-a power that now essentially rests with the treasurer alone.
Overall, Cosgrove said he thought the budgeting process went smoothly this semester considering how quickly it had to be done. In the fall, Cosgrove said he had several weeks to prepare a budget because most groups do not need money immediately. This semester, groups had activities as early as the second week of school and needed money budgeted to them as soon as possible.
As a result, Cosgrove was unable to individually meet with representatives from each student group to help explain SA’s budgeting process. He said that probably contributed to why some student groups were upset with what they received.
“Some groups feel that their cause is greater than another group’s cause,” Cosgrove said. “Every group contributes in some form or fashion. The numbers may be different in how many are impacted and how many are involved. If we based budgets on that, some groups would get money and others would not.”