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F-board allocates funds

By Jenn Sheehan

Section: News

September 22, 2006

Last week, the Finance Board (F-board) approved the budgets of Waltham Group, WBRS, BTV, BEMCo, Student Events, and Archon, officially initiating the process mandated by the SAF amendment that was passed last semester. The groups submitted their budget proposals to the F-board, which then decided the amount of funding each group would receive. Except for WBRS, all groups received within $600 of their requests.

BEMCo requested $27,553.86 and received $26,953.86. Archons $58,800 budget was approved in full, as was Waltham Groups $17,050 request and BTVs $13,996 request. Student Events was allocated $110, 243.93, which was $400 less than requested, and WBRS was issued $51,764 after asking for $63, 544. All of the budgets were based on expected expenditures for the 2006-2007 school year, except for BTVs, which was only for the Fall 06 semester.

The new process received both positive and negative reactions from the groups.

Deepa Patel 07 of Student Events (SE) said that the end of the semester last year and the beginning of this summer were very frustrating because all these new changes were being implemented, yet no one really had all the answers of how things were going to be run. I did not know what was expected of SE, what exactly was going to be different with finances, etc. However, she continued, saying that going to F-board for requests wasn't a problem since we spend our money responsibly.

Yoni Litwok 07, Operations Director and Clinical Supervisor of BEMCo, said that we are in the very early stages of our relationship with the F-Board as all of the changes are very new to everyone. They were very accepting and understanding of our expenses.

Cheryl Robison 07 of the Waltham Group reported satisfaction as well. The process was fair and thorough, she said, and we have always maintained close oversight of our finances working with the student elected senior budget and steering group and the Community Service Director. We anticipate having no problems maintaining the quality of our programming while still meeting the needs of the F-Board.

Ari Schnitzer 07, President of BTV, previously an opponent to the SAF amendment, has had his fears reconciled. We were worried because we didnt know. It could go up or down since there were few guidelines in place and there was nothing to ensure wed get what we needed to operate. [The F-board] has a good handle on what they need to do to [move] forward.

However, several of the groups reported experiencing some complications under the new system. A big problem we did have, said Litwok, was the length of time it took for the approval of the budget. It took nearly a week for our budget to be approved after being told it would be passed that night. The F-board appeared to be very disorganized and misleading regarding this issue. The delay in the F-board's response to our budget proposal did cause delays in BEMCo's purchase of equipment.

Student Events happened upon obstacles as well. Most of the problems for SE were just a matter of inconvenience since we're so used to being independent. If the cost of something happened to go over budget, we could shift the money over from another area. If this were to happen now, however, it would have to be approved by F-board, said Patel.

Hadar Sayfan 07, General Manager of WBRS, is unsure of the consequences of the SAF amendment. She says, It's too early to tell how effective the new system is going to be. Hopefully by second semester we'll really be able to see if the reformed system is delivering what it promised.

An anonymous F-board member noted that there seemed to be two problems and one advantage with the new system. One problem is that most secured groups got almost their entire budgets passed anyways, like Student Events for example. They requested around $110,000 and only got $400 cut. Also, in the Secured groups budgets, we are still giving grants. [The groups] are requesting money for stuff, and I don't know what theyre doing with it! Who is to say they can't be wasteful and just use their allocated money on crap?

The F-board member continued, saying that the only good thing is rollover. We are making clubs use their rollover [previous SAF funds that the clubs already received] and this is giving us more money to work with.
Brian Paternostro 07, Student Union Director of Communications, replied that “we are supposed to be funding secured groups by general line items. To do it any other way would be substituting F-board's judgment for the organizations. The check to make sure allocations are being spent appropriately comes from monthly reconciliation of the chargelines, monitoring the bank statements for off campus accounts, and in the budget approval process questioning amounts and line items we find conspicuous.

Patel added that we're also submitting weekly and biweekly reports to the F-board, so they can see how we're spending our money and if we're staying in budget.

Part of the SAF amendment set a baseline allocation amount which the Secured Groups are eligible to receive. WBRS, Student Events, and the Waltham Group all received less than their baseline allocations, while Archon and BEMCo received more. Both Waltham Group and Student Events asked for less than their baseline allocation.

Its been a great process so far, said Schnitzer. Weve very pleased with the allocation we received and all that our representative, Jacob Bockelmann 09, did for us. They did a great job of meeting our wishes.

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