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Members examine fiscal policy

Karen Langley | Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Council of Representatives (COR) met Monday night to discuss recommendations for changes to the Student Union fiscal policy.

“As we are moving forward with a proposal to increase the student activity fee, this is a perfect opportunity to inspect the Student Union fiscal policy,” student body president Dave Baron said.

In the past week, Baron met with a small group of COR members to discuss the fiscal policy. Those discussions produced a list of four recommendations.

It was suggested that Student Union treasurer Mike Marshall present a Student Union treasury report to COR each month. The report would cover monthly spending, Financial Management Board activity, appeals and business board updates.

“As far as business board updates go, I would recommend having the business board manager make that report following their monthly meetings,” Marshall said.

Recommendations also called for a clarification of the scope and purpose of fund appeals, including carry-forward, COR collaboration, technology, contingency and charity funds.

“This information is not exactly well known to all clubs and organizations,” Baron said. “They need to know about the funds that are available for them to access.”

Not all of these funds are part of the budget at this time, Marshall noted, pointing out the technology and contingency funds.

“Right now those don’t even exist,” Marshall said. “If you think they’re important to develop and put in the budget, that’s fine, but right now they don’t exist at all.”

Real-time access of account information to group controllers and treasurers was a priority among recommendations presented to the group, as treasurers of groups currently have to get printouts of their spending from Marshall.

“This would give treasurers the ability to go to InsideND and figure out what they’ve spent,” Baron said. “It makes it easier because there’s not a delay.”

Student Activities advisor Amy Geist said the administration is reluctant to give students access to financial information.

“There is a higher expectation for student government than for officers of individual clubs,” she said. “I don’t know that the University is interested in giving every club treasurer access to their accounts.”

The group’s final recommendation involved a potential cap on the carry-forward fund, which now contains $180,000. The account must have at least $15,000, but has no maximum cap.

“At one point a few years ago, a large sum was put in to make a safety net,” Baron said. “But $180,000 is much more than we need to have in that.”

If a cap is put in place, student government must decide what to do with the excess funds in the account at that time.

“My personal idea is that it has to be something permanent that students 20 years down the lines can benefit from,” Baron said.

Baron noted the carry-forward fund is supposed to be used for capital expenditure, not to accommodate a deficit in the budget, though that is how it is currently used. Student government can currently withdraw $10,000 from the fund each year.

A number of COR members volunteered to serve on smaller groups for closer examination of the carry-forward fund recommendations and to clarify the scope and purpose of the fund appeals.