New A.S. Council Confronts Deficit With 10-Year Plan

    This year’s A.S. Council starts the new academic year with a $268,000 deficit that it inherited from last year’s council. Vice President of Finance Bryan Cassella delivered the news at the first A.S. Council meeting on Oct. 3. He plans to use this entire year to craft a 10-year finance plan that he will present at the end of the year. Cassella hopes future councils will use his plan when making long-term financial decisions.

    Cassella said he will devote two positions in his office to this project alone. He hopes a greater part of council will join as well.

    Some of the provisions that Cassella wants to include in the plan include a future income plan for development of businesses, a stance on whether the A.S. Council should work toward becoming a 501c3 (a tax-exempt organization) and communications with other cabinet members for long-term development of their offices.

    “I, at bare minimum, hope to be well underway so that my successor may pick up where my office has left off,” Cassella said. “If the Council wishes it to be put into any sort of resolution or legislation, then when the time comes we will have that discussion. But for now, it is just an office project.”

    This year’s A.S. Council has already taken measures to try to reduce the deficit and gain back the money lost in budget shortfalls this year.

    “I know it was difficult for me to sit in that cabinet meeting and cut my budget, but I know everyone else in that room was going through the same thing,” Associate Vice President Diversity Affairs Elizabeth Garcia said. “I think it shows great character for this council and the VP finance for dealing with it instead of letting future councils inherit a deficit.”

    So far, A.S. Council has already made $154,000 in cuts that reduced the overall deficit to this current figure of $268,000. The cuts mainly affect the AVP and executive offices.

    “From here, we need to make sure that we’re fiscally responsible and accurately tracking our expenses,” A.S. President Meggie Le said. “The next step now is working with Bryan in order to create a multi-year plan to pay back the deficit. We’ll also have each office responsible for turning in their expenses each quarter.”

    This will be the first 10-year plan that council has made. Cassella believes the lack of previous long-term plans is part of the reason the current council is facing budget difficulties. He explained that the one-year terms that A.S. councilmembers serve tend to make the members near-sighted about their goals and projects.

    Cassella explained that last year’s council did not foresee the under-enrollment that occurred last year. Under-enrollment gave council less disposable funding than projected, leading them to over-allocate $110,000 in funds and overspend by an additional $70,000.

    “When it comes down to it, it was the responsibility of the entire previous council to oversee the office of finance and keep them accountable,” VP External Affairs Olamide Noah said. “Every week we have to approve each and every funding request so it isn’t just the [previous] VP Finance’s fault. Unfortunately, there were no structures of accountability.”

    Cassella acknowledged that while he cannot force future councils to follow the plan, he hopes that they will at least use it as a base.  

    “My hope is that future years will want to use this as a template, but it is hard to mandate something for someone who hasn’t taken up the thought of being in office,” Cassella said. “Certain things I would like to put into legislative writing, but those will be in terms of preventative measures for a future deficit rather than future changes, because many things change based on the environment as so happened this year.”

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