Bye Bye Budget Packets

SGA votes to replace semesterly budget with as-needed SCORE forms

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Gaby Baum '20, SGA treasurer, during an SGA Finance Committee meeting. // Emily Drake / The Muhlenberg Weekly

Beginning Spring 2019, clubs will no longer be required to submit a semesterly budget packet or special requests; instead, club treasurers will rely on a Google form called Student Club Organization Request for Expenses (SCORE) form to receive as-needed funding.

Next semester, all funding will remain in the Student Government Association (SGA) account and be distributed to clubs who request money via SCORE forms. The SGA finance committee, a subset of representatives, will meet weekly to go over each form and to make sure requests are meeting all finance requirements, including: impacting the largest number of students, supporting community development, showing responsible budgeting and balancing individual contribution with individual benefit. The committee will then report on the expenses to the rest of SGA at the weekly SGA general assembly, held every Wednesday night at 5:30 in the Great Room in Seegers. The general assembly will then vote on any request for more than $1,500. Due to the time required to review each form, it is best to submit SCORES at least two weeks before funds are needed.

“This altered process isn’t about giving groups any more or less funding. The intention is to take a multi-step request process to receive and to spend money and reduce it to a one-step process, saving time and energy of all involved in the process” stated an SGA e-mail sent out to the treasurers of all clubs.

Additionally, students tended to over budget themselves. Historically speaking, SGA has given out $90,000 in annual budgets and received $50,000 back, according to SGA Treasurer Gaby Baum ‘20. In other words, students weren’t spending the money they were requesting, money that came from classmates tuition.

Nixing budgets was one of three options the Finance Committee brought before the General Assembly on Oct. 31 in an attempt to make funding requests less complicated for the students and less time consuming for its representatives. The decision to get rid of budget packets received the most votes.

“In this case, we feel like this is the best option, simply because this allows us to continue communication with clubs, only allocate the amount of money that is going to be spent and it allows the finance committee to have a more general say and takes the pressure of the treasurer in helping with the SCORE forms.” said Kyle Moore ‘19, a member of the finance committee.

In the past, when approving budget packets, the SGA treasurer needed to meet with over 100 clubs and go over 100 budget packets which painstakingly outlined all predicted expenses in categories. SGA advisor Steve Dutton, who has advised SGA for the last three years, wanted to change what he believes to be an outdated process inherited from before his time.

“Right now the budget request process for our clubs is very complicated; they have to submit a lot of detail about what they plan to do with their money and categorize in different categories, like how much they’re going to spend on food and supplies and services and contracts. We make them break those things down,” said Dutton. “When they actually spend this money and when the controller’s office records it, they don’t use those same line items that we ask for. That was information that was created years ago that we have not updated with what actually happens now in the offices.”

The goal of the new SCORE-only system is to make it easier for clubs to get their money and spend it- not to take money away from clubs.

“The SGA Finance Committee will track the spending throughout the semester of each club and compare it to semester’s prior and gauge how the new process is affecting groups’ spending habits. As we make these adjustments, we will continually accept feedback and assess the process to ensure the quality of service and equity among all recognized groups,” stated the e-mail.

SGA is looking to try the system out for a semester and are looking for feedback.

The removal of budget packets is the first step in the revisal of the Finance Manual. The Weekly will continue to report on this topic.

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