Surplus funds unallocated as SA approves external budget
Surplus funds remain unallocated as the Student Association senate on Wednesday voted unanimously to approve the Board of Finance’s proposed 2018-19 external budget.
The $930,933.85 approved budget, which will be divided between 125 student clubs, groups and organizations on campus, is an over $18,000 increase from the 2017-18 academic year.
Wednesday’s vote was the first step in passing the organization’s estimated $2.71 million total budget for the upcoming academic year.
“It’s always good to give more money to student groups,” said Mitchell Rybak, chairman of the BOF, who described the approval process for the external budget as efficient.
According to Rybak, deciding how to allocate funds for student groups is a multi-step process.
First, the BOF looks at the previous year’s expenditures – both internal and external. From there, the board considers the estimated budget provided by University Research before beginning the weeks long process of going through each group’s budget request.
“To be honest, it was a painstaking process, but one that’s necessary,” said Rybak.
Groups that failed to file a budget request for the upcoming academic year were allocated one cent to remain funded. This is a move that, according to Rybak, would prevent groups from having to go through the new and unfunded process should a mistake by the group’s e-board been made.
“By giving them one penny, they don’t have to do that,” said Rybak. “They can go through appropriations for funding and apply for a budget next year.”
Groups that failed to submit budgets for two consecutive years – including Albany Running Exchange, American Red Cross Club, Association of Computing Machinery, French Club, Model EU, Save the Memories, Sisters with Pride, and Young Americans for Liberty – lost funding and must apply to be a new and unfunded group in future years.
Not allocated in the budget 2018-19 as of yet: surplus funds SA did not spend in previous years.
Earlier this month, SA President Jerlisa Fontaine informed senators of a $600,000 surplus. Since then, leaders in the organization have been informed by the Office of Student Involvement, which oversees SA, the amount of surplus funds is likely far less than initially thought.
“We don’t exactly know what our surplus is and what we didn’t spend,” said Rybak who explained the BOF cannot allocate additional funds without first knowing how large the surplus is.
There is no way of telling how large SA’s current surplus is until the organization’s latest audit is released. The audit for the 2017 fiscal year, which was completed last month, is slated to be presented to the senate as part of SA’s next weekly meeting on April 25.
Rybak is currently drafting legislation that would create a surplus line within SA’s budget where money can then be allocated as needed.
According to Rybak, a surplus line would not only allow unspent funds to be allocated outside the budget process, but also ensure SA does not run the risk of emptying its accounts should the organization run a deficit.
“This surplus that we found…is most likely going to be going to things that will make sure we’re being a good business and we’re being fiscally responsible with how we allocate money and how we operate,” said Rybak.
Any legislation would require approval from the Rules Committee, BOF, and a two-thirds senate majority.
“It sounds like a lot of moving parts, but we actually already have drafts written up,” said Rybak who explained nothing is final until the senate approves a bill.
SA will look to pass its internal budget on April 25 before voting to approve the final budget for the 2018-19 academic year.