SGA looks into budget discrepancies

Joe Myers, vice president of administrative affairs for the Student Government Association, said April 13 that the organization’s budget is missing either $1,000 or $1,800.

Myers announced the missing funds at this week’s SGA meeting, and told the Senate he needed some time to investigate the matter. He said he expects to be able to explain the discrepancy within the next two weeks.

“I don’t know where that money is at this point,” Myers said. “One thousand dollars is a lot of money. Obviously there’s a major discrepancy, and we need to figure out where it is.”

“We lost money that we didn’t even know about,” said Vice President for Student and Administrative Affairs Trey Orndorff. “That’s why the budget all of a sudden dropped. Nobody even knew about it.”

Myers said there could potentially be some large purchases outstanding to account for the missing funds, but said, “I don’t know where those would be.” Myers has sole control over the budget, although he said other members are authorized to make purchases such as minimal printing costs and small purchases with the organization’s credit card.

Myers works with the Dean of Students’ office to manage the budget, but said he believes SGA should control its budget without administrative influence because SGA is an official department of university.

“I’m not a big fan of the Dean of Students’ office controlling our budget, and then all of a sudden we’re missing money,” he said. “I personally have somewhat of a trust problem when it comes to the administration.”

Myers said that SGA can’t “afford a dime toward” two pieces of pending legislation in the Senate that would require the organization’s funding. The first resolution, proposed by Sens. Jeff Iker and Adam Billiter, would donate $2,500 to purchase new athletic equipment for the Campus Recreation department. The second, proposed by Sens. Lindsay Hunter, Ashley Scholl and Brett Hardebeck, would allocate $3,000 to purchase benches for the Residential Village. Both resolutions were tabled indefinitely at the April 12 SGA meeting.

“At this rate, I hope it’s able to get through,” Hunter said. “If it takes us this long to find out how much money we have, we can’t very well spend it.”

SGA also spent approximately $1,400 last week to print 14,000 election mailers, but never mailed them to students.

“We’re gonna have to eat that printing cost,” Myers said. “That sucks.”

Election Committee Chairman Michael Vaughan said that when he approved the mailers, Myers had told him they would cost only $1,500. After the mailers were printed, however, Vaughan learned that postage would cost an additional $2,000. The mailers remain in the SGA office and will not be sent to students.

“The money’s not there, so they’re not going out,” said Orndorff, who is running for vice president for administrative affairs in this week’s election. “I think it’s crazy that the money was spent in the first place.”

“If they can be opened and reused, we’ll find a way to reuse the paper and envelopes if at all possible,” said SGA President Chris Pace.

Vaughan said he “took (Myers) at his word” and had no reason to doubt the initial estimate of $1,500. It was assumed that since the university is a non-profit organization, the mailers could be sent free of charge. Only after printing did Myers inform Vaughan that this was not the case, after he learned from the Dean of Students’ office that SGA would indeed have to pay for postage.

The mailers include a letter urging students to vote in this week’s SGA election, a complete list of candidates, and letters from the presidential candidates and their running mates.

The letters were a source of controversy within SGA last week. Orndorff filed an appeal with the Dean of Students’ office that the mailers violated SGA election guidelines because they contained campaign material from the presidential candidates, Eric Fegan and Andy Hixson, and their running mates, James Pollitt and Jeff Iker. SGA election guidelines explicitly state that neither the SGA office nor its resources can be used for campaign purposes. Orndorff withdrew his appeal upon learning that the mailers would not be sent.