A.S. Debates How to Allocate $300,000 in Left Over Funds
With only two more Associated Students Board meetings now remaining in the school year, this past Monday's 3 p.m. meeting paid careful consideration to both this year's terminal items, and concerns for next year's AS as well. "We're looking out for [incoming AS president] Cameron's [Henton] board" said current AS President David Chung.
Discussion regarding item 10.8 was complicated by several factors. The deadline to turn in proposals to the AS is this Thursday. Without action the special projects fund would likely fall into the red, and several board members believe that an empty special projects fund would hinder the chances of any new proposals.
Unlike most items related to fiscal policy, item 10.8 was not heard before the AS finance committee prior to reaching the board. Normally, it is the responsibility of the Finance Committee to determine how AS accounts fund projects. It is perhaps in consideration of the upcoming deadline for proposals that the item was rushed to the board. Further more the AS Director of Budget Management, Kamil Gazizullin, was not present during the discussion for item 10.8, thus adding further disarray to the debate.
Initially, members of the board moved to allocate $100,000 from the year ending balance and other AS accounts to the special projects fund. While concern for the immediate future of special projects was high amongst board members, Chung and other board members cited the motion as fiscally irresponsible due to noticeable confusion amongst the board regarding the real dollar amount present in the account. The motion to change the language of item 10.8 to allocate $100,000 failed in a vote of 6 to 5 in opposition to the motion. A subsequent motion to change the language of item 10.8 to allocate $26,000 passed, but the item as a whole failed.
On paper the AS budget reports a balance of over $300,000 in year-ending funds. However, there was disagreement among board members regarding how much of that money was already slated for upcoming projects. Without a hearing before the finance committee, or an intricate understanding of AS finances between all of the board members, the fiercely contested decision of the board sends item 10.8 back to the finance committee, which will not meet until after the May 21 proposals deadline.
However, according to Chung the proposals deadline is a non-issue. The fact that the special projects has been depleted should not bar the AS from receiving proposals. Discussion regarding the funding of those proposals are items for the coming weeks, and so there is time to allow item 10.8 to pass through the regular channels, and possibly return to the board as a more refined item. Chung does concede that a presently unfunded special projects fund with critical points still undecided may discourage new proposals. However, the raucous and impassioned debate on Monday was, in his opinion, largely the result of "personal battles" between board members. The events of the coming weeks will have to show whether this issue was a financial imperative, or an arena for personalities to butt heads.