SGA to look for lost funds

Seventeen months after passing a bill to finance the building of an on-campus gazebo, Student Government Association members are asking where the gazebo is, and where the money went.

The bill, passed April 17, 2001, allotted about $5,000 left over from SGA’s annual $90,000 budget to the project. The Herald reported that the money was expected to go to a gazebo and some outdoor furniture. Another $3,000 was earmarked for other campus improvements.

To the surprise of current and former SGA members, the money is gone.

But Student Activities and Organizations Director Scott Taylor said the money can be accounted for, though it wasn’t spent on a gazebo. He said he thinks the money was spent instead for computers in the SGA office.

As recently as last spring, former SGA president Leslie Bedo discussed the gazebo fund with a Herald reporter.

The issue of the missing money was brought up Sept. 10 when a group of SGA members questioned Congress about $28,000 they say is unaccounted for.

Brooke Smith, Dana Lockhart and Sam Stinson filed a petition suggesting SGA’s accounting practices and procedures may have violated the group’s legal codes as well as state law, and fiscal policies set by the university’s Chief Financial Officer.

Smith said they withdrew the petition yesterday after the executive council formed an adhoc financial review committee. The petitioners said they received e-mails saying the document was inflammatory and that they should stop pushing the issue.

SGA President Jamie Sears said she wasn’t sure about the gazebo fund.

“I have absolutely no idea where that money went,” she said.

Taylor explained that when Congress leaves for the summer, there are still decisions to be made with the leftover money.

Aaron Spencer, former SGA vice president of Finance, said the wording of the gazebo bill may have allowed the money to be used for things other than campus improvements.

Taylor said SGA expenditures did follow state guidelines.

But, he said, SGA’s Congress wasn’t notified that the gazebo fund and other end-of-the-year funds had been spent on SGA rather than campus projects.

He said that will change in the future.

“It should show up in the budget,” Taylor said.

Smith, Lockhart and Stinson say they are waiting for the actual documents that detail SGA’s expenditures, as well as the results from the adhoc committee.

“SGA needs to be meticulous,” Smith said.

Reach Molly O’Connor at [email protected]