WKU SGA ‘shocked’ about owing $15,000 for Provide-A-Ride

Tessa Duvall

The Student Government Association recently paid Parking Services a $15,000 retroactive payment for last year’s Provide-A-Ride service. The total amount owed was taken evenly from the organizational aid and student scholarship funds — $7,500 from each.

Provide-A-Ride is a partnership between the SGA and Parking Services, with both parties splitting the $30,000 contract. Because SGA can’t bid out contracts, the money is paid to Parking Services, which then pays the service provider.

SGA President Billy Stephens said he was “shocked” to be notified of the $15,000 retroactive payment last week.

Parking Services said they did not receive the payment for Provide-A-Ride from the last SGA administration, which led to this year’s administration footing the bill, Stephens said. Additionally, the SGA budget does not roll over from year to year, so no money was available from last year to help cover the costs.

Jennifer Tougas, director of Parking Services, said she believes the retroactive payment was an “honest overlook” on the part of SGA.

After reviewing transactions for the fiscal year 2011, Tougas said there was no record of the $15,000 being transferred from SGA to Parking Services.

“We wouldn’t have pursued it through Howard Bailey and Charley Pride had we found the payment,” Tougas said.

Devon Hilderbrandt, the administrative vice president of SGA, said the decision to take $7,500 each from the organizational aid and student scholarship funds was made because these funds are the largest areas of the SGA budget.

Currently, there is about $26,000 in the organizational aid fund and about $23,000 available in the scholarship fund, he said.

Hilderbrandt said the money was not taken from the general fund because this is the fund with which SGA does the most work. There is currently about $10,500 in the SGA’s general fund, he said.

Stephens said he has been in contact with the past SGA administration trying to find if any record of payment was overlooked.

“We’re looking into it pretty deep to see if we can find payment from last year,” he said.

Colton Jessie, SGA president for the 2010-2011 school year, said he was not made aware of the retroactive payment until Stephens notified him of the situation.

“That can’t be correct by any means,” Jessie said.

The SGA operated the budget from day one as if the $15,000 had been paid up front, Jessie said, adding that the money for Provide-A-Ride was never seen nor touched.

“As far as my administration goes, nothing is lacking on our side,” he said. “I definitely know our $15,000 was budgeted out.

“It’s a weird situation — I’m really interested to see if anybody can give us more answers.”

Stephens said the SGA is currently working to find funding for Provide-A-Ride for the spring semester.

Provide-A-Ride was not available this semester following the termination of the contract with the previous provider, Franklin Taxi, which Jessie said was a “serious thorn in the side of SGA and the university as a whole” while he was president.

Franklin Taxi was often unreliable, ignored phone calls from students in need of a ride or showed up hours late.

“It kind of puts a damper on it because what it pretty much works out to is we’re paying $22,500 for Provide-A-Ride for one semester,” Stephens said.

“I’m going to do all I can get to get Provide-A-Ride back in the spring,” he added.

Tougas said Parking Services has proposed that the department provide the service itself, without contracting out to a third-party provider. Parking Services is now waiting for a response from SGA.

“From our point of view, it’s in their hands whether they want to continue it,” she said.