Warren Council to freeze spending

    Warren College Student Council will be enacting a self-imposed spending freeze, made effective at its Feb. 13 meeting, to allow the treasurer to bring the council’s books up to date. The spending freeze is expected to last for three weeks.

    “”I guess you could say it was a mismanagement,”” said WCSC President Donald Povieng.

    Povieng said the freeze will enable the council and the treasurer to find out how much money is available to allocate for the remainder of the year. During the three weeks, neither WCSC nor external groups will be able to request or give out new allocations. Existing allocations, however, will be met.

    “”We just didn’t want to spend money or approve allocating money to another organization without knowing how much exactly we have and what financial condition we are in,”” Povieng said.

    WCSC Treasurer Chris Lee said the freeze is necessary to give him and the council time to account for existing expenditures.

    “”For a period of time, we are just going to stop any additional funding that we do, whether it is internal or external, to basically get our books together and get our numbers straight and figure out how much we have, and hopefully by then we’ll have the vending machine allocation,”” he said.

    Lee said that the freeze is not the product of any questionable funding practices but rather to prevent the council, as has happened in past years, from overspending the budget.

    According to the 2002-03 figures, WCSC’s operating budget is $18,179, which is made of a $12,035 A.S. allocation and a $6,144 vending machine allocation.

    Lee said the vending machine allocation, which is income derived from the campus’ vending machines and divided among the college councils, has not been received yet.

    In addition to the delayed vending machine allocation, Lee blames what he calls a “”rather inadequate accounting system.””

    “”It’s just really hard to track money that goes in and out of the accounts,”” he said.

    Povieng said that outside of the vending machine allocation, programmers delayed notifying the treasurer of having used allocated funds. These delays contributed to the council’s books being behind.

    “”The funding freeze is a good thing,”” Lee said.

    However, not all members in WCSC are as satisfied about the self-imposed funding freeze.

    “”I think that it is unfortunate that we are putting such a burden on outside organizations when our financial situation is our fault and not theirs,”” said Kirsten Bowen, Warren college sophomore senator.

    In addition to the funding freeze, Bowen cites what she calls “”frivolous internal spending”” on items such as food for meetings, a one-day bowling alley retreat held in addition to the traditional fall retreat, and promotional giveaways.

    Janelle Benterou, WCSC vice president internal, said that the council made internal expenditures, which is money allocated to programs run directly by WCSC, believing that more money was available than what turned out was actually there.

    “”We anticipated having more money in the beginning of the year than we actually had — having it last longer,”” Benterou said.

    During fall quarter, WCSC allocated $405.31 for stress balls, $565.56 for frisbees and $604.54 for zipper wallets, which were all emblazoned with the WCSC logo. These expenditures cost a total of $1,575.41.

    Lee said that the amount spent on internal expenditures is unrelated to the funding freeze.

    Internal expenditures are made by an executive board comprised of the council president, internal and external vice presidents, treasurer and parlamentarian, according to Lee. Internal spending is not presented before the council.

    “”Whenever we spend money, we discuss it as a council,”” Lee said. “”I don’t see any problem whatsoever.””

    Povieng defended spending money on the items, which he says will last for three years. He also cited the council’s decision to seek greater publicity of WCSC’s presence.

    “”When you go out on the lawn and see people playing with WCSC frisbees, they look at the frisbee, and they know that whenever we put on an event or whenever we have some sort of formal, they know that it is student council,”” Povieng said.

    Former WCSC President Jesse Coward said last year’s council, which was initially more conservative with its spending during fall quarter 2001, might have benefited by promoting the council’s name. Near the end of last year’s council, Coward said WCSC was faced with a large amount of money still unallocated.

    “”We had too much money at the end of the year, so we would have done well to spend more,”” Coward said.

    Comparatively, neither Revelle nor Muir nor Eleanor Roosevelt college councils, which operate with larger budgets, spent money on promotional items.

    Revelle College Council operates with a $41,000 budget. This amount will increase for next year due to a new $7 per student, per quarter fee increase, according to RCC Chair Alex Schafgans.

    Muir College Council manages a hefty operating budget of $94,850, due in large part to a fee increase. MCC Chair Nick Lieberknecht said that in terms of internal expenditures, council members at Muir buy their own council T-shirts, volunteer to bring snacks to meetings and even held their retreat at a council member’s house this year.

    “”I think in general, most college councils are careful with spending money on themselves,”” Lieberknecht said.

    According to the WCSC budget, the council held its fall overnight retreat in Julian, Calif., at a total cost of $1,858.23.

    “”This amount is in line with previous years,”” Povieng said.

    Last year’s council spent $2,603.63 for a fall overnight retreat at YMCA Camp Surf in Imperial Beach, Calif., according to Coward.

    Povieng said that Warren college, at the encouragement of the dean’s office, was looking into a $3 to $5 per student, per quarter fee referendum as a way to increase the budget.

    Thurgood Marshall College and Eleanor Roosevelt College students also recently passed per quarter fee referenda.

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