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SA comptroller updates treasurer’s handbook

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Student groups looking to submit purchase requests, file for reimbursements or access the Student Association’s credit card, will first have to familiarize themselves with a newly revised Treasurer’s Handbook.

Re-worked entirely for the first time since the 2015-16 academic year, the new handbook aims to bring clarity to an often confusing, and sometimes outdated process, according to SA Comptroller Patrick Carroll, who updated the handbook this past summer.

“The reason for the changes wasn’t necessarily what was going wrong last year, it was just what was wrong in the Treasurer’s Handbook and how can I get the most useful information to the treasurers and presidents,” said Carroll of his decision to rework the handbook, the go to guide for all SA funded student groups seeking to access allocated funds.

Before filing any PR’s or reimbursement requests, there are few things you need to know.

Accessing the Treasurer’s Handbook

Before any group or club can access allocated funds, the president must first re-register their organization with the Office of Student Involvement through the group’s MyInvolvement page. Failure to re-register will prohibit any SA funded organization from accessing funds.

After re-registering, a group’s president will be forwarded a copy of the Treasurer’s Handbook and given instructions on how to sign-up for the mandatory treasurer exam, which is taken via Blackboard.

Organizations that have completed the registration process but have yet to receive a copy of the handbook and information on the mandatory exam are urged to stop by the comptroller’s office located in the SA offices, according to Carroll, who said just over 50 presidents and treasurers out of the more than 120 groups on campus have signed up for the exam as of writing.

“I’m the first one to admit, it’s a difficult process, there’s a lot of bureaucracy, it’s a lot of frustration,” said Carroll of the re-registration process.

According to SA rules, all SA funded groups are required to have two signatories, the president and treasurer, who can submit PR’s, file for reimbursements, make deposits, and file to use the SA credit card.

Each will have two attempts to score at least 80 percent on the exam, the minimum passing grade. Those groups whose president and/or treasurer fails both attempts will have to appoint a new person to the position, according to the handbook.

“I’m not taking away people’s positions, I don’t have power to do that, that’s an internal group thing. I do have power over who has signatory powers,” said Carroll before explaining someone can still be president or treasurer of a group even after failing the exam twice, they just won’t have signatory powers. “Personally, if I’m in an organization and the treasurer fails the treasurer’s exam twice, I would not want him as my treasurer.”

New Policies

New this year are policies surrounding credit card usage, an increase wait time for reimbursements, a policy increasing the time for submitting PR’s prior to making a purchase, and a ban on all groups from using funds to purchase gift cards.

“It’s not as bad as it sounds,” said Carroll of the new policies.

Under the new guidelines, groups are required to submit PR’s a minimum of three weeks in advance, up last year from two.

The added week with ensure there is enough time for a PR to move through the necessary channels needed before final approval, said Carroll.

A group’s signatory first needs to submit a PR request through MyInvolvement. From there, the comptroller’s office sends to the request to OSI for approval. Once approved, the PR then gets sent back to the comptroller’s office who then initiates the transaction and forwards the request to UAS which has retained a third-party company to cut and mail all checks this year.

Checks can no longer be picked up at UAS. Instead, they must be mailed directly to the payee.

“The way the process works, it might very well take me three weeks to get that thing paid,” said Carroll who said there should be no issues in processing PR’s so long as groups follow the new policies.

A minimum of three weeks is required for all credit card transactions this year as well. SA’s credit card is prohibited from leaving the office, according to the handbook, and cannot be used to pay for things that can otherwise be paid using a different method.

Carroll and Langie Cadesca, SA president, are the only two signatories on the card.

To initiate a credit card request, signatories are required to set-up a pre-approval appoint with the comptroller’s office. From there, the request is sent to OSI for review. Once approved by OSI, an appointment must be made with the comptroller’s office to purchase the items in question.

Following use of the credit card, a group’s signatory must immediately submit a PR. Those using the card are required to bring a laptop on the day of final purchase to complete the necessary paperwork, according to the handbook.

“I put a lot of red tape up because I don’t want groups coming to me a week before an event saying, ‘I need this paid,’ because odds are I’m not going to be able to do it,” said Carroll of the new policies.

Students seeking to purchase items for their group and be reimbursed later can expect the process to take three weeks to a month. Those looking to purchase items for their group are encouraged to make an appointment with the comptroller’s office prior to doing so.

Reimbursement, as well as PRs, can be denied at the discretion of the comptroller’s office.
“Any expenditure has to be furthering the stated mission in a group’s constitution,” said Carroll who said anything outside of this mission is likely to be denied by his office.

New this year is a blanket ban preventing all groups from using allocated funds to purchase gift cards. According to Carroll, the new policy levels the playing field between new and unfunded groups and those with a budget.

Last year, SA passed a bylaw banning appropriation dollars from being used to purchase gifts. The law was passed after several groups tried to secure appropriation funds for the purposes of purchasing gifts and gift cards for upcoming events.

Comptroller’s Office

Working alongside Carroll are three deputy comptrollers: Isaiah James, Christopher Brito, and Harrison Rubin. Last year, the office had just two deputies.

“It’s allowed me to delegate specific things,” said Carroll of the increased staff. “Last year, we weren’t able to do that.”

The comptroller’s office processes anywhere from 15 to 250 PR’s a week, depending on the time of year, said Carroll who noted October and April usually see an uptick in requests.

In addition to updating policies, Carroll is aiming to increase his office’s transparency.
Last year, it was reported that the comptroller failed to provide SA’s senate with bi-weekly expenditure reports despite language in the organization’s bylaws mandating such.

Carroll said he plans to follow the bylaw as it is written but noted monthly reports would better highlight just how SA is spending its estimated $2.72 million budget.

“Anyone can come in here and I will give them any expenditures that they want,” said Carroll.

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Chad Arnold is a reporter for the Albany Student Press covering Student Association affairs. He is also an die-hard heavy metal fan.

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