SGA budget questions still unanswered

There are still no answers two weeks after Student Government Association members first raised questions about money missing from the organization’s budget.

Scott Taylor, former Student Activities and Organizations director, and other SGA executive council members have not provided documentation of where the $5,000 in question went.

In Spring 2001, SGA passed a bill allotting the year’s leftover money to build a gazebo and make other campus improvements. About $8,000 was left in the budget at that time, $5,000 of which was for the gazebo.

Last week, Taylor said documentation of the spending would be provided to the Herald and SGA by the beginning of this week.

In light of the recent budget irregularities, SGA appointed congress member Nick Todd Tuesday to head a financial review committee that will look into the matter.

The committee will examine a number of issues, namely what happened to the money for the gazebo.

Taylor said last week that the missing money was instead used for computers in the SGA office. The bill passed by SGA in April 2001 stated that only leftover money would go toward the gazebo fund.

Taylor said last week that after SGA bought computers for its offices, no money was left for the gazebo.

He said an outline of the SGA budget showing where the money for the gazebo was spent will be given to the financial review committee by the end of this week.

Taylor said the final say on where the $8,000 leftover from SGA’s $90,000 yearly budget lies with members of the organization’s executive council.

But SGA president Jamie Sears, who served as vice president when the decision was made to use the $8,000 elsewhere, said she was never involved with the gazebo or the decision.

She said any such decision would have fallen on the shoulders of former SGA president Leslie Bedo.

“Leslie made those decisions and did not consult,” she said.

Bedo, who is now working in Louisville, could not be reached for comment last night.

Many SGA members were unaware until this semester that the money for the gazebo was not spent on the project. But Taylor said the SGA Constitution states that the SGA president can act when Congress is not in session.

The focus for SGA now shifts to finding out exactly where the money for the gazebo, as well as other money, has gone.

Todd said the new committee, which includes Taylor and SGA Vice President of Finance Ross Pruitt, will try to find out where the budgeting problem occurred and why it happened. He said he also wants to make the budget more easy to understand.

Dana Lockhart, a member of SGA Judicial Council, said he is eager to see what executive council members instruct the review committee to look into specifically. He said he considers the formation of the committee to be a step in the right direction.

“How big of a step awaits to be seen,” he said.

It was a petition signed by Lockhart and congress members Brooke Smith and Sam Stinson that helped spark the investigation into SGA’s budget.

Pruitt is hopeful a new budgeting system adopted by SGA this year will help prevent problems in the future. The new format, he said, will give congress members a more accurate view of the budget.

Taylor said he worked with Pruitt in creating the new system, which will show a complete itemization of expenditures.

The budget includes a total of expenditures, commitments to date, previous balance and new balance. Also listed are the previous year’s expenditures.

Reach Molly O’Connor at [email protected]