Student Government Association was missing $1,492 in the most recent budget audit.
Representatives found a miscalculation in the annual SGA budget. They figured out it was an error in the allocation of money to the School of Law.
Sen. Pierce Gordon (freshman at-large) brought the issue to the Senate’s attention April 5.
Gordon was reviewing the budget when he found a discrepancy in the money allotted to the Student Bar Association.
“It was a simple algebraic error, but it was a lot of money,” Gordon said.
This year’s budget has a lot of money left over, so the error shouldn’t cause any issues, even though it cannot be transferred back into the budget, Gordon said.
“The error hasn’t affected anyone, but it was just kind of irresponsible,” Gordon said.
SGA President Randy Gipson-Black said he would have liked the money to have gone into the rollover budget to be used for future projects.
“That’s a pretty big mistake, and I’m not happy that it happened at all,” he said.
Gordon wrote two potential bylaws to provide more oversight and transparency for future budgets.
“All we can do is make sure we don’t make this mistake in the future,” Gordon said.
The bylaws will be introduced at the next Senate meeting, which is scheduled for April 12.
“This shouldn’t happen again,” Gordon said. “Institutionalizing the rules behind it to prevent actions like this is a step in the right direction.”
The first bylaw calls for the signature of the SGA president, vice president and speaker of the Senate for the budget’s approval.
The second bylaw calls for the presence of the secretary of finance while a bill is being held on the Senate floor. He or she should give a presentation of the budget and explain its importance. The current secretary of finance, as of April 11, is Joey Simpson, religion junior and new SGA chief financial officer.
“I think this level of oversight will prevent any future errors,” Gordon said.
Gordon said he hopes to postpone voting on the Fall 2017 budget until the appropriations committee, a part of the legislative branch of student government, reviews executive decisions made on the allotment of funds.
“I will put a high level of review on this budget in order to prevent any errors like this, especially with all of the things the executive is trying to push through, and I agree with, but we just need to make sure we do it the right way,” Gordon said.
President Gipson-Black said he’s thankful that Gordon was able to catch the issue and is looking forward to changes.
“People catch things and that’s good,” Gipson-Black said. “That’s how we grow off things. That’s how we learn to be critical when we’re trying to make the budget.”
He said he’s aware that SGA needs to be transparent with their budget and hopes they can be more diligent in letting students know what SGA is doing.
“We’re not trying to hide anything,” Gipson-Black said.
Gordon said student government officials are considering altering the budget so that there is one for every academic year and not one for each semester. He said the change would make the budgeting process easier, but it would be more time consuming.
Student government officials also spoke about simplifying the SBA allotment process to allow for fewer mistakes.
Former SGA president Nic Rhodes said he finds the process tedious.
“It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever,” Rhodes said.
He said he would rather SGA be given a certain amount of money and then communicate with SBA how much they will receive, based upon percentage and not student enrollment.
For instance, instead of figuring the equation based on student credit hours, 16 percent of the budget would be set aside for SBA.
He said he thinks this change would be more productive than the introduction of Gordon’s bylaws.
“The budget is passed through the executive before, so those bylaws are already enacted,” Rhodes said. “And it’s adding unnecessary language.”
He said clarifying the process of the SBA allotment will allow for more long-term success.
Gipson-Black said he hopes that SGA can benefit the student body by being transparent and careful.
“We know that we need to be more cautious going into this,” he said. “This is the students’ money, so it needs to be apportioned how everybody believes it should be apportioned.”