News Student Association

Rejected idea: SA tapping surplus for ‘little mini budget’

Some flirted with allocating unbudgeted Student Association funds as an emergency effort to boost the exhausted programming line after officials remembered having $600,000 nine months ago.

With push back, the Board of Finance during a private Wednesday meeting with the SA president, comptroller, and senate chair, steered away from using a chunk of surplus funds ostensibly forgotten by several top officials since September.

The meeting was sudden; Anna Agnes, vice chair of the BOF, alerted board members the morning after she was notified by Jarrett Altilio, senate chair, of a programming department kerfuffle. Joey Fambrini, programming director, alerted SA leadership that the budget was drying up during election week.

Fambrini thought he had enough because SA President Jerlisa Fontaine told him last year that some of the surplus, once allocated, could fund both Fallapalooza and Parkfest. This idea was introduced in August during informal conversations between Fontaine, the finance unit, and the senate chair. At the time, president hoped to eventually develop a budget proposal with each official involved.

But allocation talks last fall didn’t happen because — according to Fontaine — they forgot about it (Micheal Spellane, was also involved, but was pushed to resign as comptroller in mid-September).

During the Wednesday meeting, brainstorming ways to patch up the department’s budget, Mitchell Rybak, chair of the BOF, mentioned possible bylaw reform to address reopening the budget.

No bylaw clarifies how undusted funds can be allocated after an expenditure plan passes. For Rybak, it’s unlikely any past administration considered finding hundreds of thousands of dollars while drafting policy.

“Do I personally think that a clarifying bylaw to reopen the budget in the case of an emergency is a good idea, possibly, but I think the board would have to have a longer meeting to discuss the benefits and risks associated with it,” he wrote in an email.

Agnes, along with BOF members Cassandra Jones and Alondra Berroa, were hesitant about reopening the budget. Overall, it was shot off the table.

“That’s not how a budget works,” said Agnes. “So we could talk about it in this upcoming budget process, but not just randomly add it in.”

That wasn’t part of Fontaine’s original plan the week prior. In response to Fambrini’s concerns, she contacted Altilio and Nick Hackshaw, comptroller, to create a “little mini budget” for programming.

“That’s why I started pulling everybody back together,” she said. “‘Like, oh snap, Jarrett, we need to kind of create this little mini budget; Nick, I think we need to hurry and create this little mini budget.'”

She expected the plan would be proposed at Wednesday’s senate meeting.

However, instead, the programming department was supplemented by $65,000 in excess stipend funds instead.

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