USG faces $3,729 budget deficit
Comptroller says deficit is due to a miscommunication with UConn’s Bursar’s Office
Published: Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 23:09
The Undergraduate Student Government hit a budget snag when student fee revenue came back lower than anticipated, causing a $3,729.24 deficit.
But USG Comptroller Claire Price said the deficit is more the result of a communication error than lack of funds. She said the University of Connecticut’s Bursar’s Office typically gives the comptroller a revenue number for budgeting purposes, but instead gave her a total for the number of students enrolled who will pay the fee.
“Not all students pay the fee at the beginning of the semester, so we’re anticipating that revenue just slowly coming in,” Price said.
The USG Senate approved a budget worth over $1 million at the beginning of the semester, and, Price said, any shortage can be made up for.
The USG Funding Board is in charge of dividing up the majority of the organization’s funds – a total of $540,805.62 – among Tier-II on-campus organizations, which include club sports and cultural groups. In addition, the board controls a $50,000 reserve, or “emergency”, fund that can be given to Tier-II organizations that apply for funds via legislation outside of the standard funding process. All of the funds come directly from fees charged to the entire undergraduate student body.
On Wednesday, the senate approved the allocation of $7,900 of the reserve funds to two Tier-II organizations: the badminton club and the trampoline club.
The UConn Trampoline Club received $5,900 to pay for facility use and a stipend for their coach.
Jonathan Blake, the trampoline club’s event coordinator, said they requested funds during the normal funding process last Spring, but it was only partially funded.
Per funding board policy, the group’s request was not funded in full during the normal funding process last semester because it included transportation costs. The group – which typically has about 30 members - has charted a bus to get to The Trampoline Place in Plainfield, Conn. where the group practices, though due to their funding decrease they will drive themselves this semester.
Under the revised funding board policies passed this semester, the request for transportation funds can be split from the request for facility funds and a coach stipend, which are typically funded in full.
But in order to keep the club going, Blake said they need the emergency funds in order to pay for their time at the facility in Plainfield.
“If we do not get the money today, we are done for the semester,” Blake said.
But Comptroller Price said it was trampoline club’s responsibility to clarify their request when they were given the opportunity.
“I did have groups come and appeal to me, which trampoline club could have done,” Price said.
A few senators argued that because trampoline club is a non-competitive sport, there is no need to fund a coach. But Blake said trampolines add an element of danger, and their coach – William Young – is a well-respected trainer who has even coached Olympians.
Senator Daniel Byrd backed Blake’s case.
“I had the opportunity to go to a trampoline park a few weeks ago, and let me tell you: it is dangerous,” Byrd said. “I see the urgent need to fund a coach due to the fact that there is danger involved. This group needs a coach.”
Ultimately, the senators approved the funding, citing trampoline club as a source of diversity on campus that merited continuance.
The badminton club was allocated $2,000 to pay their coach. The club, which has around 95 members, requested the funds for a coach last semester but failed to submit the necessary information for the request to be filled after the club had trouble finding a coach to hire.
The club was able to find a prospective coach over the summer, but had to turn to emergency funding in order to get the necessary funds.
The third legislative funding request the senators considered Wednesday night was denied: The University of Connecticut Boxing Club requested $3,200 for their coach, Lawrence Thompson.
Senator Philip Jones, who sponsored the Boxing Club’s legislative request, said the club’s coach has been with the team for at least three years without being paid.
Funding Board Chair Parth Rana said the group was denied the funds during the regular funding process last semester because the officer of the club who submitted the request never passed the Funding Mastery Test, a requirement for receiving funds from USG. But no members of the club attended the meeting to back up their request.
“The problem with this type of funding is that it undermines the way the process is supposed to work,” Price said. “If the submitting officer had done the test as he was supposed to, the group would have their funding right now.”
Senator Colin Ng disagreed with the majority decision to deny the request.
“I don’t think the current CFO should be punished for something his predecessor has done,” Ng said. “It’s not the current CFO or the club’s fault.”