SA senate learns of $600,000 in surplus funds
A shift in spending oversight this past summer has led to the discovery of more than $600,000 in Student Association surplus funds – highlighting delays in the auditing process and causing senators to question the organization’s transparency.
On Wednesday, SA President Jerlisa Fontaine notified members of the senate that UAS discovered more than $600,000 in surplus funds in the organization’s bank account this past summer. The funds, according to Fontaine, are comprised of unspent money from previous years.
It is not known how long SA has had the surplus funds.
The discovery came less than two months after UAS took over spending oversight — referred to as custodianship — of SA funds on July 1. The shift was the result of continuing delays in SA’s auditing process.
According to Executive Director of Student Involvement Michael Jaromin, whose office oversees SA, the organization’s annual audit should be completed in September following the end of the fiscal year on June 30. The 2016-17 audit was not completed until March 2018.
“Every audit will tell you how much your surplus is,” said Jaromin who explained it is very likely SA has a surplus but stopped short in saying just how large the surplus is. “The only reason why there would be some uncertainty is because the audits are so late.”
In addition to Fontaine, Langie Cadesca, chief of staff; Michael Spellane, former comptroller; Mitchell Rybak, then SA secretary; and Jarrett Altilio, senate chair, all knew of the surplus this past summer.
SA’s senate and board of finance were not alerted to the surplus funds until Altilio notified BOF Vice Chair Anna Agnes last week.
“We honestly, genuinely, with the quick pace of the school year, just didn’t get back to it,” said Fontaine, who explained that dealing with surplus funds is new for SA.
An idea to create a “mini budget” with the surplus funds was initially discussed by Fontaine, Altilio, and Spellane, leading Joey Fambrini, director of programming, to believe he had additional funding for this year’s Parkfest.
The BOF blocked the move early last week after learning about the funds.
“You can’t just open up your budget and throw more in there,” said Cassandra Jones, a member of the BOF who expressed frustration in not knowing about the surplus funds. “You can’t just tell us two days ago that you have $600,000 and expect us to just say, ‘Yeah, throw it into Parkfest.’”
On Wednesday the SA senate voted to transfer $65,000 from the organization’s payroll line to the programming concert line to cover Parkfest expenses. The move came just two days after the BOF learned of the $600,000 surplus.
Several senators felt they were intentionally misled about the surplus funds, including Rules Committee Chair Brandon Holdridge.
“Roughly six people know about this and we just forget? No. There’s no way in my mind that’s something that would happen,” he said. “I don’t believe it for a second.”
UAS custodianship now performs monthly reconciliations, matching purchase receipts with funds spent. Jaromin said this will allow the audit to be completed on time and lead to better financial understanding within the organization.
“If there are ways for us to improve what they do, we are constantly asking and advising them to do that,” said Jaromin of SA. “Ultimately at the end of the day, it is still their budget.”
The BOF plans to allocate the surplus funds into the 2018-19 budget but has not finalized what the money will be allocated towards.