Adviser says he warned against SGA fiscal policy

The Student Government Association was intentionally overbudgeted in 2005 in order to raise the student government fee, said a former SGA president.Former SGA President Dave Watson said he, former Chief of Staff Sebastian Moleski and others purposely overbudgeted SGA by $30,250 for 2005.

However, Watson said, the rest of SGA didn’t know his intent and it wasn’t in any of the bills, but raising the fee was his personal goal.

Larry Markley, SGA adviser, said he advised SGA officers against this sort of fiscal policy.

Markley said it wasn’t against the SGA constitution or illegal, but he didn’t think it was a good idea.

Watson said he told students he wanted to raise the student fee during his campaign for SGA president in Fall 2004.

At his inauguration, SGA’s budget was $275,000 and the fee was $20, but after the student body approved the $4 increase, the new SGA budget totaled $315,000.

“I wanted to raise the student fee because it hadn’t been raised in 10 or 15 years, and over that time, the spending power of SGA had decreased,” Watson said.

Every time the issue had been brought up in the past, it had been dismissed because the reserve was large, Watson said.

“We were being punished for having good fiscal policy,” Watson said.

Thomas Guidry, a former member of SGA, disagreed.

“The reserve is there for a reason,” Guidry said.

Current SGA President Jace Thompson said SGA’s constitution mandates at least $20,000 be in the reserve account at all times to serve as a financial cushion.

Thompson said the reserve account had accumulated during the years to roughly $100,000 before SGA began spending out of it.

“I don’t think it’s good to have student money sitting in an account gaining no interest,” Thompson said.

Watson said he wanted to spend out of the reserve, not frivolously, but to give back to the students and show them that their money was being used to benefit them.

Spearheading this effort was the Student Activities Funding Board, an organization created in Fall 2005 by Watson, Moleski and others.

The AFB was originally funded by $25,000 per semester out of the reserve account, but because of the increase the figure was raised and locked to $38,250 a semester.

The AFB gives money in grants to student organizations to help them put on their own events.

The plan to use funds from the reserve to raise the student fee appeared to have worked, but Markley said he didn’t think the vote was passed because of residual spending.

Find out why in tomorrow’s conclusion of this four-part series.