USG to vote on budget that is still in flux

The budget the Undergraduate Student Government senators will vote on tonight is about $25,000 different from one proposed last week.

When USG officers drew up their proposed budget for next year, they operated under the assumption that they’d be receiving $86,000 from the carry-over account — money left over from the administration from two years ago.

Instead, USG was informed last week that it would only be receiving $61,000, forcing the Allocations Committee to shave $25,000 from the budget, according to USG Treasurer Brian Anderson.

As usual, a university-hired accountant was tasked with calculating how much money USG would receive from the carry-over fund. The Allocations Committee had requested the information a week before the budget was due, but they did not hear back until the morning of the day the budget was presented to the Senate. Because they did not have time to account for the changes, USG officers chose to present their original budget but explain the circumstances.

“We knew that we could present the budget, explain it to the senators and then, once changes were made, present it later on,” Anderson said. “We told the senators Tuesday morning that it would be changed.”

The budget USG had hoped to enact made many adjustments to the previous administration’s budget.

Senate allocations, money that senators use for their projects, was decreased 54 percent in USG’s proposed budget, falling from $22,620.13 last year to $10,497.70. This decrease was planned because President Chris Cheng and Vice President Nehi Ogbevoen thought the money would be better spent in other places.

Another area that was also set to decrease was the administration portion of Program Board. Because Program Board and the Executive Cabinet will be sharing an office next year, and as such can share equipment and administrative expenses, 14 percent of last year’s Program Board Administration funding would have been transferred to the Executive Cabinet Administration.

The development portion of Executive Cabinet allocations, which is used for retreats and dinners with administrators, would also have received an 8 percent decrease from the old budget.

“Now that we have the new campus center, we’ll be able to hold Campus Partners dinners there, again, saving money,” Cheng said.

Though the proposed budget showed a 30 percent increase in funding for legal services, the costs are actually the same as they were in last year’s budget — the apparent change is the result of a reporting error by USG.

“We found that the legal services was a valuable resource to students,” Cheng said. “Last year, it was reported wrong and never corrected.”

The executive/legislative portion of the Executive Cabinet allocations would have seen an 11 percent increase under the proposed budget. Cheng and Ogbevoen had planned this raise because they wanted to give the various directors more money for advocacy projects.

Public Relations, on the other hand, was slated for a 14 percent decrease.

“They had a lot of money left over this year,” Cheng said. “We want to focus more on manpower instead of buying a lot of gear … We decided to reallocate it where it could be better used.”

Under Funding Board allocations, the proposed budget also included a 2 percent increase for the Discretionary Funding Board, which is the body in charge of distributing money to student groups.

“This money goes directly back to students,” Cheng said. “It’s a straight avenue for student organizations to apply for and use for their own events.”

There also would have been several changes to Program Board, such as a 25 percent increase for the Performing Arts Committee and a 6 percent increase for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Assembly.

USG had proposed these changes in hopes of making things run more efficiently and effectively. But without the extra $25,000 the officers believed they would receive, USG will be forced to strike these changes from the budget and revert to the last administration’s budget.

There is still hope, however.

USG is waiting to hear whether the Board of Trustees will approve its proposed $1 increase to the Student Programming fee. If it is approved, USG will receive $30,000 dollars, which will more than compensate for the $25,000 cut. This decision, however, will not be made until the summer.

“Right now, we’re operating on the budget with the money from the carry-over account,” Anderson said. “This will allow USG and Program Board to start planning their year and all the programming they want to do.”

Even if they are forced to use the old budget, Ogbevoen said he doesn’t think it will be a problem.

“USG and Program Board have consistently done a good job,” Ogbevoen said. “We really are excited that we have a new team, new energy, new passion, new ideas, and even with this budget, we will still be able to do all the great activities, performances and fund student organizations like we’ve always done.”