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SGI increases budget by more than $100,000

The overall revenue that Student Government, Inc. receives annually, mostly from the activity fee in students’ tuition bill, increased by more than $100,000 for this school year, according to a budget included in a recent newsletter to the student body.

Inside the 14-page annual newsletter titled “Student Focus,” SGI reported that its overall revenue rose 9.6 percent, from $1,053,730 last year to $1,155,000 this year. In addition to the $105 activity fees that students pay, a $10 increase from last year, SGI says it also receives some revenue from the Co-Op and Vineyard Vines Totes & Ties.

As stated in the newsletter, most of the “portion” of student activity fees collected by the University goes to SGI and the rest goes to Campus Activities Board, which handles the marquee events throughout the school year such as Spring Concert and other funds geared for student endeavors.

There were several funds that benefitted from SGI’s 9.6-percent increase in revenue, including those belonging to SGI’s special allocations, contingency, senators and the recently added secretary and support staff salaries.

SGI’s special allocations fund, which is used to support academic and leadership training programs, increased 43 percent to $100,000.

SGI Treasurer Emily Bargabos said that increase was due to previous boards experiencing shortages in the special allocations fund.

“We were running short on funds for the spring semester [earlier this year],” she said. “We kept it in mind for this semester so we can offer it to organizations when they need to hold events and increase student engagement.”

Also, she said $15,000 has already been earmarked from that special allocations fund for the professional development committee, which works alongside the Department of Student Affairs to create more opportunities for students to participate in conferences and conventions.

SGI Secretary Oscar Diaz added that the increase allowed them to provide students with more opportunities to attend conferences as part of their respective organizations during the summer.

The contingency fund also experienced an stark increase, going from $2,000 to $50,000 this year. Bargabos said that was designed to imitate other government functioning bodies that allocate at least 5 percent of their total budget toward contingencies. The newsletter described the contingency category as unexpected expenditures that arise throughout the course of the school year, which are not generally categorized under another area.

For example, the new organizations that recently were inducted into SGI will receive money from the contingency fund, Bargabos said.

Funds allocated to the sophomore, junior and senior senators increased  more than $20,000 – from $57,500 to $81,000 – in response to falling short in previous years, they said.

The SGI secretary, currently held by Oscar Diaz, oversees the initiatives by the freshman committee and was granted $500 to carry those programs out.

In addition, support staff salaries (i.e. student workers in the CO-OP, staff in the SGI office and a graduate assistant) were listed on this budget to provide further insight on SGI expenditures, Bargabos said. That line item is new in this year’s budget.

Furthermore, SGI was also able to decrease funds in certain categories such as  Organizations Allocations and Inter-Greek Council’s Special Allocations, which saw its budget drop from $35,000 to $30,000.

The budget for IGC’s special allocations was primarily determined based on proposals from the Greek Life Office, but SGI shaved funds from them in order to make “realistic allocations” that match expenditures that match the previous year, according to Bargabos.

Since the distribution and price of Vincentian Yearbook was accounted for in the organizations allocations area, SGI made several cost-effective cuts that required less funding. Bargabos said the money saved from both these lines was placed into SGI Special Allocations or contingency funds in order to create more opportunities for organizations.

The annual stipend that members from the SGI Executive Board receive goes under SGI administrative expenses, which received $40,955 in funding.

Bargabos said revenue from the SGI budget doesn’t carry over but earned incomes from organizations roll over to this fiscal year.  But she said SGI’s budget is generally depleted by the year’s end and any leftover funds are typically put toward end of the year initiatives.

SGI’s financial report does not detail how much was given to each organization, instead listing the organizations by categories and showing the maximum, minimum and average funding that was given to groups in that category.

SGI members voted to use this method instead of publishing each specific organization’s funding in a general vote, Diaz said. SGI felt it was in the best interest of each respective organization to not let its funding for the year become public knowledge.

“I think some of them might not be comfortable with letting everyone know how much they get because every organization this year and last year, SGI worked diligently to look at the merit of each organization,” Bargabos said. “It’s really to protect the organizations’ interests.”

They said SGI determined each organization’s funding based on preliminary budget proposals submitted by organizations in the summer, completed organizational requirements (hold two events per semester minimum excluding general body meetings), quality of past events, amount of service hours, attendance at Org Congress meetings and monthly report forms for organizations committees (to be able to monitor their progress throughout the semester).

“An organization that does 5,000 service hours, 10 phenomenal events each semester, they deserve more than an organization that does the bare minimum,” she said.

They also said the budget was finalized by the end of October once student term bills were paid, but it took time to develop the newsletter that included the financial report..

“The creation of the newsletter comes into play and working with a graphic designer,” Diaz said. “Basically all of that gets compiled and newsletter gets done, then we publish it.”

Last year SGI said it planned to release the budget earlier this year, but was unable to. It took nearly a month to tally the information into a newsletter.

They said in the future SGI will look to release the financial report in a timelier manner.

“Because the SGI budget is contingent upon enrollment, it is not concrete until late October,” Bargabos said. “With that being said, we are always striving to improve in everything we do and hope that we will be able to provide the Torch and our fellow peers with the budget as soon as possible.”

For the complete SGI financial report, visit this link.

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