By Lyndsie Cox With the SGA budget deficit over the past year, a lot of questions were raised about the effects on funding of this year and if it will affect students in the future. Director of Student Activities GG Flint and SGA Treasurer Niko Sanchez were willing to answer questions and provide some background about the budget crisis, that has now been resolved.
Regarding the lack of funds, one aspect is how it started. After Laurie Konecky, former director of student activities left, SGA realized they were short a large amount of money. An accumulation of over $10,000 had been overspent from past years, unknown to this year's SGA executive committee. Flint described how every year SGA is allocated money based on how many students attend North Park. In order to get an accurate number, SGA has to wait several weeks in case any students drop out. Konecky left before the six weeks were up, which is when Flint stepped in and was alerted by the business office that SGA had a deficit. Sanchez explained that these expenses SGA did not know about were due to miscommunication.
A large part of SGA is managing the budget for all of the clubs on campus. Clubs were given $500 to spend each semester, and had to provide information on how the money was spent. According to Flint, the clubs are given this standard amount for each semester and that was unrelated to the deficit, decided before they knew about the debt. Sanchez met with each club president at the beginning of the semester to clarify any questions and look at how they planned to spend their money.
SGA has a constitution that they have to follow and there were changes made regarding the budget, but this was again, unrelated to the deficit. SGA had plans to change the constitution in more than one way, not just how the budget is run. They are leaning more toward allowing clubs to decide how much money they need. This will ensure bigger clubs are getting more money to accommodate more people while smaller clubs are also getting the money they deserve.
With all of the information regarding this deficit, it became worth questioning whether or not a boat dance was possible after Fall Music Fest did not take place this year. A large scale event was really important, according to Flint, to include a majority of the student body. SGA felt that the boat dance was a necessary event even though the budget was a tight squeeze. SGA has managed to allocate funds well and they kept enough money in reserve to cover the deficit to avoid negatively affecting next year's account. Because the boat dance was expensive, clubs have not been able to spend as much money this spring semester. Most clubs did not spend the full $500 that they were given, so the executive committee decided they would put money to the dance instead of clubs. The boat dance did have ticket sales, which created some revenue as well.
In regards to how the budget will be run next year, Sanchez shows optimism. He stated that he has done everything in his power to end this year in a positive manner and keep SGA on the right path. According to Sanchez, whether or not better budgeting will make way for more events next year "all depends on what SGA wants to do for next year." Sanchez also explained the expenses and finances of SGA for the 2015 fiscal year, and how the new software they use to budget is completely different.
It is apparent that SGA is working hard to fix the deficit and make positive changes for next year. Clubs and students certainly were impacted by this issue in funding, but SGA is making strides in improving the budget and trying to ensure this does not happen again.