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The Carletonian

Rollover fund almost depleted, SPC takes no large projects

<ent Projects Committee (SPC) is no longer funding new projects, as the budget is maxed out, according to CSA Treasurer Jen Chan ’19. Founded in 2012, SPC was created to spend the upwards of $400,000 left in the budget from previous years of CSA budget rollover (or money allocated to but not spent by clubs). Recent student-led projects funded by SPC included the bike share program, KRLX renovations, and a new public history installation in Willis to honor Paul Wellstone. The committee is still meeting, but only to review feedback forms, according to Chan.

CSA Senate currently operates on a budget of about $600,000-700,000, but almost all of this money is used each year to cover campus events and student clubs. “Compared to a lot of other small liberal arts colleges, the CSA doesn’t have very much money. Compared to Amherst and Williams, their budgets are over $1,000,000, and ours isn’t even close to that,” said Budget Committee member Jon Gillespie ’18 in an interview with the Carletonian about the increased Student Activities Fee.

With this limited budget, “there is not a lot of extra money,” added Class of 2020 CSA representative and budget committee liaison John Mullan ’20. Generally, $30,000-40,000 a year is added to the rollover account, which can be used by SPC.

Since the creation of the committee in 2012, SPC has implemented several projects to utilize the leftover budget (originally totaling over $400,000) after years of accumulating large rollover amounts. “We’ve been spending that money in various ways,” said CSA Vice President and Chair of Budget Committee Seth Harris ’18 during a previous interview with the Carletonian.

Only projects proposed to SPC that are over $4,000 go on the ballot for a campus-wide vote during CSA election cycles. Smaller projects, which do not need approval by the student body, include information desk games, new picnic tables and water bottle fillers. Larger projects, which appear on the ballot, include renovations to KRLX and Little Nourse, stated Harris.

According to Harris, the rollover budget for SPC projects totalled less than $200,000 since 2015. Yet, miscommunication among treasurers and CSA administrations led to confusion about the amount of rollover budget available for student-led projects in 2017. “I was initially told that we had $300,000 in the reserves… I found out that, at the beginning of this year, that the numbers got messed up and we actually have $105,000,” said Chan.

Before realizing the budget discrepancy, Chan “got thrown into the middle of it where I was about to put forth a bunch of projects, which I thought were really cool, and then found out that we don’t have the money,” she said. Some of the projects set aside for now, until more funding accrues, include a loaner laptop program, internship clothing for low-income students and a rental system for graduation cap and gowns, according to Chan.

“It’s really complicated because the budgeting of all of CSA is on the Hub. There are a lot of random accounts. You can’t really see how much money is in everything, but you can try to figure it out. And basically one day the numbers just suddenly changed because they finally charged a bunch of old projects,” said Chan. “What we essentially found out was that we have like $5,000 that we technically can spend right now. And I don’t think that it is fair to take up that money when someone next year might come through full of ideas.”

At this point, all of the $105,000 are spoken for. $40,000 needs to be paid to KRLX for new equipment, $10,000 was given to establish an exhibit celebrating former professor Paul Wellstone (although only $8,000 will be used), $18,000 goes to the first year of the bike share program, and $30,000-40,000 must be set aside for capital reserves in accordance with CSA bylaws, according to Chan.

“There is no documentation of [SPC projects and budget] at all and the SAO people only came in like three years ago,” said Chan. “So there is no real knowledge.”

To avoid another year with SPC unable to fund larger projects, “I am going to try to pass a bylaw that says every treasurer has to leave another $10,000 for the next year’s treasurer to be able to institute projects,” said Chan.

Partially due to the miscommunication about funds available, the future of funding for the bike share program—one of the largest student projects created through SPC— remains up in the air. The original plan was for the CSA to fund the program for one year, in order to establish its utility to the student body. After this, CSA hoped the College would take over future funding for the project, which costs $18,000 each year, according to Mullan.

“Because of the mishaps that happened in the fall and amount of time that we needed to get it off the ground, we don’t think we are going to be able to propose it to [the College] by the end of the year, so we might have to fund an extra year of it. We don’t want that to come out of the spring allocations money,” said Chan.

With SPC funds depleted, bike share would probably be covered by the CSA general fund for next year “and in so doing, it might just affect the student organizations and offices across campus,” said Mullan. “Would each individual organization and office feel than effect? I think it is hard to say, but I would say that ‘yeah’ it would be a big chunk of money to consider.”

Chan and Mullan hope the College would eventually take over the bike share costs after another trial year. If not, CSA would either discontinue the project or add the cost to other annual CSA measures— like providing national newspapers around campus, said Mullan.
With the expected rollover budget of $30,000-40,000 from this year, “the next treasurer will have to potential to meet about projects that are less than $40,000 and possibly see them through,” said Chan, anticipating SPC again able to approve projects.

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