SA over-allocates student funds

A $7,000 over-allocation of funds to student groups by the Student Association caused a delay in the Senate’s passage of an allocations bill Wednesday night.

The Senate’s Finance Committee budgeted allocations to student groups based on its belief that the SA had $255,000 to distribute from the University fee GW charges students.

Finance Committee Chair J.P. Blackford said the bill allocated $2,000 more than the SA has on its budget. He said the over-allocation was based on the assumption that not all student groups would use all the funds allocated to them. However, he said $5,200 of the $255,000 was revenue the SA must generate during the year and is not available for allocation.

SA President Carrie Potter expressed disappointment with the bill and the initial over-allocation.

“We shouldn’t be budgeting assuming the groups won’t spend all their money,” Potter said.

The Senate recessed while senators conferred with Potter to compromise on budget cuts. The compromise cut $3,000 from the SA executive budget, $8,000 from the special events fund and $1,000 from the conference fund, two of three funds that replaced the SA’s cosponsorship fund. The compromise also added a clause to the bill that would require the SA’s mid-year allocations review, which adjusts the original allocations given to student groups, to be complete by Feb. 3, 1999.

Blackford said the Finance Committee intends to use the mid-year review to check groups’ expenditures and pull money from those not spending it the way they stated on their original applications. During the review, the SA also will reward deserving groups, Blackford said.

Potter said she was not happy with the reduction in the executive budget but she said it was a concession she was willing to make.

“I’m going to have to make some adjustments to my budget, but it is more important for student groups to get money,” Potter said. “On the principle of funding more student groups, I agree with the compromise.”

Representatives of several groups came to the meeting to voice their opinions of the finance bill. Eddie Lara, executive chair of Latinos for Progress, expressed concern with the $200 allotment the group received, which was down from $650 last year. Potter said LFP deserves more money.

“They are a group that is representative of more than 4 percent of GW’s population, and $200 is not an adequate allocation,” Potter said.

As part of the compromise on the bill, $400 earmarked for the group in the special events fund was moved to its direct allocation and it received an additional $100 in the fund.

Only so much could be done with more groups chasing the same amount of money, Blackford said.

“There was a significant increase in the total number of groups requesting allocations this year,” Blackford said. “But the total pot of money didn’t increase (from last year). We just don’t have enough money to fully fund all groups.”

The SA Senate received $1,750, down from $6,000 last year. Executive Vice President Jesse Strauss said he did not ask for more than that because he does not see a reason for a large SA Senate budget.

“Our biggest expense will be coffee at the meetings to keep people awake,” Strauss said.

The senate previously passed two finance bills, giving funds to groups that needed money for events at the beginning of the semester and groups that completed a paper process for funding instead of attending a hearing with the Finance Committee.

Blackford said 10 to 12 group leaders have said they did not receive any information about the allocations process. He said the Finance Committee will meet with those groups and present another allocations bill at the next Senate meeting.

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