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The Carletonian

CSA expects to run budget deficit

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The CSA budget will exceed its income for the 2014-15 academic year, according to CSA treasurer Ben Strauss ’16.

Each year, the CSA senate plans to run a balanced budget, so the current situation is “definitely not ideal,” Strauss said.

To explain the deficit, he said: “Some new events occurred. Some new publications occurred. And those cost money, and they weren’t anticipated.”

Former CSA treasurer Matt Cotter ’15 added that this year’s $30,000 allocation for spring concert was higher than anticipated, perhaps adding to the current deficit.

“When that happened, we acknowledged that we’d probably be budgeting more than the income,” he said.

A sophomore who wished to remain anonymous is glad to devote more money to spring concert. “If it means better food, they can spend more money,” the student said.

The budget deficit is not something to be alarmed about, Cotter said. Clubs are not allowed to run a deficit and so, unless they spend exactly the amount that they asked for, they inevitably have a little bit left over.

There is therefore a structural surplus. While the CSA budgeted more than its income, it is not yet certain that the actual amount spent will exceed income. In other words, whether the CSA will end the year with a deficit remains to be seem.

“My guess is that when all the numbers clear, it will be a very small deficit, maybe around $1,000 or something,” said Cotter.

And a deficit isn’t necessarily a bad thing, Cotter went on to say. The extra money will be taken from the committee for students projects (CSP) fund, which has around $160,000 in it right now. The CSP, which was established a couple years ago, makes use of the surplus money from past years. Even though the CSA may not have enough money to cover its expenses in its annual budget, it does have enough money to pay for all of its activities.

“We don’t want to have unused money,” Strauss said. “We’re trying to use it on big projects that benefit all students for a long time.”

While there’s no immediate danger of the CSA running out of money, it could theoretically happen if expensive CSP projects suddenly became very popular. Cotter says there’s a simple solution for that: raise the Student Activity fee.

“Essentially, if the CSA runs out of money that means it’s being allocated as efficiently as possible to student groups, so it’s a good thing,” Cotter explained. “If that happens, people would want more money, so then they’d be okay with the student activity fee going up.”

Still, the goal is to run a balanced budget, and it seems that will not happen this year.

Cotter points to spring break trips as an area where spending could have been trimmed.

“They’re pretty expensive, and don’t happen at Carleton,” he said before adding, “But they have a lot of value, and it seems like there’s demonstrated student interest.”

Going forward, the CSA is looking into separating its yearly budget into three budgets – one for each term.

Strauss said this would provide “an early warning mechanism” if spending were particularly high in the fall or winter, thus making them less likely to overspend in the future.

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