SGA operating budget is strong

by Kelsey KnutsonStaff Writer

Simpson College’s Student Government Association is charged with the task of funding student organizations, including itself.

Several organizations on campus that need funding are on line item status, meaning they receive a set budget of their own to spend each year. Such groups include CAB, RLC and the Zenith among others. SGA is also a line item group. It receives a certain portion of the operating budget to use for projects it puts on, including Campus Day and the annual Christmas dinner.

In a meeting held Jan. 28, Student Government President Kyle Liske reported that the group had gone over its line item budget by approximately $9,000. However, the operating budget for SGA, the funds it hands out to other student organizations and events, is strong, said Student Government Treasurer Sarah Schlitter.

“Our budget is good,” Schlitter said. “We currently have over $7,000 left in the operating budget.”

Liske said the reason that SGA has gone over its budget is because it routinely pays for things that are not budgeted for at the beginning of the year. According to Liske, this has been the case for several years, but past student governments have used rollover funds from previous years to cover the deficit. As those funds begin to dwindle, SGA has to look elsewhere to cover the expenses.

The group’s operating budget for the 2008-2009 school year was estimated at $310,000, but they actually received $316,000. The extra $6,000 will be used to help cover the deficit. In minutes from the Jan. 28 meeting, Liske said he hopes to develop a more accurate budget to avoid such problems in the future.

Rich Ramos, associate dean of student activities, said there isn’t a problem with SGA spending. There are two money accounts – a rollover account and a general operating budget, and what they don’t spend in a year is “rolled over” into the rollover account.

“We have a basic number of what we should have,” Ramos said. “It’s a long process.”

SGA gets their money through student activities fees that are paid with tuition. By mid-September they know about how much money they have to work with for the upcoming year. As the tuition goes up, so do the student activities fees that pay the SGA budget.

According to Liske, the budget is pretty normal, and SGA expects to have $3,000 or $4,000 left in the account at the end of the year.

“I like the position we’re in,” Liske said. “We’ve had problems in the past of not knowing how much we had – people didn’t know – but we’re starting to clean everything up.”

Student organizations go before the budget committee, made up of SGA members, every April to request money for the following year. Organizations have to meet specific financial codes in order to receive funding.

“We allocate money out to the groups as best we can,” Schlitter said.

Usually groups don’t get as much money as they originally ask for. However, the budget committee converses with the rest of the members of SGA, and the group settles on an amount to give the organizations the following fall.

Over 30 groups at Simpson are receiving money from the SGA budget this year and every one of those organizations had to meet the financial codes set in place. SGA cannot fund a group if the social gatherings include alcohol, donations to charity, all travel expenses, or activities closed to any member of the student body.

Simpson has also had many special projects going on around campus this year that the SGA budget has helped out with. For example, SGA paid the whole expense of the biodiesel processor on campus, which cost $4,495.

“It isn’t a bad price considering we’re being more environmentally responsible,” Ramos said.

Another project opportunity at Simpson would be helping Simpson go wireless all over campus.

“We’re waiting to see what the bid comes in at,” Schlitter said. “Then we’ll determine what or how much to provide.”

According to Liske, President John Byrd has essentially already committed to Simpson going wireless, and SGA would be in a position to donate a maximum of $15,000.

“SGA wants to help out in any way we can,” Liske said.

Other special projects around Simpson that SGA has supported include not only the biodiesel processor and wireless internet, but also placing felt on the bottom of the chairs in the library, homecoming prizes, money for the flag football tournament and the possibility of buying atomic clocks for all of the classrooms.

Ramos said the budget committee has done an efficient job this year and many student organizations have benefited. Ramos feels as though this has been a good year for SGA.

“There have been very deliberate initiatives this year,” Ramos said. “The money has been spent in the best ways that benefit students.”