SGA stresses constant fiscal responsibility

Photo by Kiyah Crittendon

As the 2014-15 Student Government Association (SGA) budget deadline approaches on October 25, approximately 21 percent of the funds this year have been spent already, primarily on the creation of the Undergraduate Conference Fund and an agreement with the Ferst Center to host events for Tech organizations.

“The target number [is] around 14 to 15 thousand dollars (spent from the budget) per meeting…and we’ve had several meetings when we’ve broken $30,000,” said Undergraduate Treasurer Alex Bandes. “I’m expecting fewer requests as the weeks go on…and the school year really starts to heat up.”

The Undergraduate Conference Fund consists of $20,000 left over from last year’s budget to provide 80 students $250 each to present their own research at conferences.

“[The conference fund’s purpose] is to put Georgia Tech’s name out there so people can see us competing, see us presenting,” Bandes said.

The agreement  between the Ferst Center and SGA that was reached earlier this semester provided $30,000 to cover rental costs and technical labor for organizations using the center.

“We’re basically making it easier for organizations to use the Ferst Center for different events and kind of eliminating the barriers that were there before,” said Trevor Lindsay, Vice President of the undergraduate and graduate Joint Finance Committee.

These purchases are made out of a $5.5 million fund which is made up from the $123 activity fee each Tech student pays at the beginning of the term. While a total of $4.6 million is apportioned to organizations that submit budget requests due this month, student organizations can also submit bills to get funding for various events. The bills are voted on by the sixty members of the Undergraduate House of Representatives (UHR) and the Graduate Student Senate (GSS).

“[They] kind of threw off our projections so those are two abnormalities that we usually don’t fund at the beginning of the school year,” Lindsay said. “We allocated things for different initiatives that Nick Picon ran on for his platform.”

These items were bills passed that were proposed by the current Undergraduate Student Body President to fulfill his campaign promises.

“We also funded salary adjustments for some personnel in the CRC and some personnel in the Student Center,” Lindsay said.

There was a $23,000 total increase in this category for the CRC and $17,000 for the Student Center in budgets in this year’s budget.

Although this rate of spending is unusually high, neither Lindsay nor Bandes believe that the budget will run out of all available funds.

“As far as really big purchases, we’re not looking to fund anytime soon,” Lindsay said.

“I always tell the bodies to treat every dollar like it’s the last,” Lindsay said. “We want this money to affect as large a part of the student body as possible [so] we want people to try to fundraise first before they come to us [with spending bills].”

Last year, SGA spent $550,000 on the CRC’s renovation the Stamps Fields. However, because of the closure of the fields, more costs were accrued by SGA to help fund the renting off-campus fields for displaced sports clubs.

“Now we’ve decided as a body that we’ll be funding these field requests at 2/3 the original amount they requested,” Bandes said.

“So increasingly [SGA] is wanting to see an incredibly detailed plan for clubs and organizations for fundraising because they don’t want them to keep coming back,” Bandes said. “The whole goal of student government funding is to start things off and get things rolling and eventually have the organization become self-funding.”

Student organizations have until near the end of the month, Oct. 25, to submit budgets for next year. Later in the year, SGA will consider the requests. In an approximately three week process, SGA will review, alter and approve organizations’ budgets.