Budget surprises force student govt. spending deficit

SGA president: "[Deficit] sounds terrifying and shocking, but... it's really not as sexy as it sounds."

Rumors that Student Government Association (SGA) has gone over its semesterly budget have been confirmed by SGA president Nick Santulli and vice president Joseph Khalaf.

“[This deficit] essentially means that the demand of student organizations exceeded the allocation we got for this semester,” Santulli said.

In an email interview, Joseph Khalaf explained how the funding allocation process works.

“Every student at Trinity pays a student activity fee (SAF) of $150 per semester,” Khalaf wrote. “This money is pooled together and 94 percent is given to SGA to distribute to student organizations.” Khalaf explained that the university keeps 6 percent of each year’s SAF; 2 percent of the remaining 94 percent funds SGA’s internal operating budget.

University-sponsored organizations and registered student organizations send funding requests to SGA. The vice president of SGA and elected student senators then decide whether to back the proposals.

But according to Santulli, SGA wasn’t told its semesterly budget allocation until mid-February — after senators had already heard proposals and approved funding for several events.

“We weren’t really able to estimate how much money we had to allocate before that, and it was lower than we expected it — more students, I guess, transferred or withdrew,” Santulli said.

A number of unusual surprises complicated this semester’s budget.

“The previous SGA underfunded recreation sports and we are obligated under contract to fund a [five]-year average,” Khalaf wrote. “The previous SGA also funded a $40,000 spring concert and this expenditure certainly didn’t help the financial situation.”

Though SGA approved the newly installed B-Cycle station in 2014, it wasn’t paid for by the 2014 SGA budget allocation. $15,000 was pulled from this year’s SGA budget in order to pay for the station.

“That $15,000, independent of the other issues, would have been fine,” Santulli said. “With our budget, we’re going to get a [new] allocation next fall, and we’re really not that much over budget. We’re not too concerned; we’re still allocating money to groups.”

Khalaf explained how SGA can still allocate money despite its spending deficit.

“We have been able to overspend because we have a carryforward account [comprising] excess funds from previous administrations,” Khalaf wrote. “We receive more money from the fall allocation next semester and expect to be back in the black for the calendar year.”

The Trinitonian reached out to SGA treasurer Rachel Daniel, but received no response.