Money problems plague College Council finances

As the newly elected College Council (CC) officers took over their positions after Spring Break, they were faced with an unexpected challenge – they looked at their balance sheet and discovered that they had no money left in their account.

“If we had a funding request for this week, unless we decide to consciously over-allocate then we can’t fund it,” said Ryan Mayhew ’01, the new CC treasurer. The officers have already accepted that they will have to tap into next school year’s funds in order to meet funding requests for the rest of this school year, which potentially includes requests from sports clubs looking to go to Nationals.

However, even with the extra expenditures, the CC account should return to the black at the end of the year because of groups returning unspent funds that were allocated to them. This so-called “rollover” is an annual part of the CC budget process and it is expected that some funds will be available for the next year’s budget.

“If we stopped right now, then we will have some extra money at the end of the year because of the rollover,” Mayhew explained.

At this point CC has no real way of determining how large such a windfall could be. According to Mayhew, it was as high as $40,000 three years ago and last year turned out to be $17,000. However, if CC spent some of the rollover funds this year that would take away funds that would otherwise go towards next year’s budget.

The CC financial dilemma was explained at last Wednesday’s CC meeting. Throughout the year, former CC Treasurer Nelson Hioe ’00 often updated CC as to how much money was available. Before the break, the figure Hioe informed CC that they had $17,000 left in their general fund. What Hioe failed to take into account when coming up with this number were certain large expenditures for ancillary CC projects including the CC Shuttle Service, the DA and the cost of distributing elections packets to student mailboxes.

When Mayhew took over the position of treasurer he immediately accounted for these items and presented a figure of $4,400 as what actually remained in the account at Wednesday’s CC meeting. At that meeting CC gave $1,400 to the Literary Society to pay for an allocation that was passed but never made, and allotted $190 to the Log in order to purchase a picnic table. The expenditures left CC with about $2,800.

On Friday, Mayhew received notice that allocations for a combined $3,300 had been made to the Social Responsibility Project and the Steel Pan band before break, but the proper forms had not been completed. This meant that the CC budget stands at about $500 in the red.

“The Shuttle Service and the DA probably both had to be authorized at the beginning of the year and it just completely slipped everyone’s mind,” said Ami Parekh ’01, the new CC co-president.

However, CC’s effort to distribute newspapers on campus will actually end up costing less than expected. Instead of delivering the paper on Sundays, The New York Times will be delivered Monday through Friday in a program that will be paid for by the Times itself.

“Not only are they giving us the paper for free, they are giving us the delivery costs and it saves us the money we would have spent buying the Sunday Times,” said Jonathan Paul ’03, who has taken over much of the work on the project.

According to Paul, the new distribution plan will save CC, who co-founded the Sunday delivery along with the Housing Committee and the Dean’s Office, about $1,000.

The Times will pay for 500 subscriptions, which is about one paper for every five students. The papers will be distributed by house and left in a pile by the door instead of being delivered to individual common rooms.

According to CC co-president Todd Rogers, who has led the effort to bring The New York Times to campus, the Times participates in similar programs at several other schools including Penn State. “Their goal is to get lifetime readers out of college students. It’s a long-term investment for them.”

“Depending on how this trial period goes, the decision comes back to us,” said Parekh. “We will have to decide if we want to stay with this program or not.”

Paul said that he plans to distribute a survey in order to gauge student opinion in order to determine how to proceed with the project next year.

Another source of revenue for CC is the Motor Coach Service, but, according to Phil Swisher ’01, director of the service, “The CC Motor Coach Service is not designed to add to College Council’s revenues; it is a service provided for the benefit of the student body. If College Council takes money from the Motor Coach Service to cover its current financial problems, ticket prices will likely have to increase next year.”

CC also has about $450 dollars from DA revenue and might receive more funds from B&G for its share of the CC Shuttle Service.

Looming on the horizon for CC in addition to regular funding requests are any requests from teams or groups that wish to go to Nationals, a request from the Garfield Republican Club to help bring a speaker to campus and funding for two Log Lunches.