Council Discovers Loads of Leftover Budget Cash

    A.S. President Marco
    Murillo announced at last week’s council meeting that its annual fiscal
    carryover — excess revenue from the past year — totaled more than $264,000, an
    unexpectedly large sum that he and other councilmembers suspect could be the
    result of up to a decade of undocumented accrual.

    Every spring and
    summer, the council conducts an intensive examination of its financial records
    to determine the percentage of allocated funds that are unused and, therefore,
    would carry over to the next academic year.

    “It’s kind of a weird
    process,” A.S. Vice President of Finance and Resources Sarah Chang said. She
    described the tedious review consisting of “tons of receipts” from student
    organizations, often for very small sums, and multiple Excel files that the
    council must sort through.

    Murillo said the
    system’s accuracy has never been particularly impressive.

    “We’ve never really
    done a thorough look at our accounts,” he said.

    Facing an unprecedented
    influx of funding requests from student organizations this year, Chang teamed
    up with Murillo to help the staff dig deeper than usual into the accounts. She
    said the average carry forward is around
    $80,000, but this year’s prediction was actually relatively conservative at
    around $40,000. After hours of tallying, Chang, Murillo and others discovered
    that the rollover was actually over six times their prediction, due to excess
    funds that were allocated primarily to A.S. administrative salaries, but also
    to a variety of student organizations and events.

    Though they said the
    findings were a surprise, Chang and Murillo agreed that the miscalculation is
    at least partially rooted in the vacancy of the council’s business director
    position from June 2006 to January 2007. They said without a leader, more than a dozen financial
    staff members struggled to maintain proper organization. When new director John
    Hughes took over in January, there was an additional transition period during
    which Hughes had to learn the job’s basics as well as attempt to understand the
    figures.

    “We weren’t really able
    to keep track of our expenses during the year,” Murillo said.

    Scholarship funds and
    student organizations could be potential recipients of the leftover money,
    Chang said, though she also plans to set aside a financial buffer to cover some
    of the costs associated with relocating councilmembers’ offices to the new
    Price Center expansion in February 2008.

    Murillo said areas
    likely to receive additional funding this year are A.S. Safe Ride, the
    All-Campus Commuter Board, the Women’s Commission and Volunteer Connection.
    Some money may also go toward another Bear Garden event, he said. The council
    will vote on these initiatives at its Oct. 17 meeting.

    Another possible use of
    the funds is the creation of an A.S. “event coordinator” position. Currently,
    University Events Office Director Martin Wollesen assists with
    council-sponsored events, but is often overbooked due to the large number of
    events — some of which occur at the same time. Murillo said having a dedicated
    A.S. event coordinator would enable the council to plan more events and
    generally expand its programs, though he is still working on the position’s
    specific responsibilities.

    Chang agreed that the
    council should be patient with the funds and carry out more research before
    spending them.

    “This is basically a
    once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we want to make sure we use [the surplus]
    for the students who paid for it,” she said.

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