Organizing the treasure chest

The new ASG Treasurer, Baxter Drennon, is still wrestling with the ghosts of last year’s appropriations debacle.

At one of the final ASG meetings of the 2005-2006 year, several groups made direct appeals to the Senate after being denied funding, including Friends of India and the Booster Club.

“The yearly budget is a constant battle to decided where ASG wants to invest its money,” Drennon said.

Both groups are expected to apply for emergency funding when the Senate meets again this year, but Drennon seems unfazed by the incident, or by the numerous changes he hopes to make in the appropriations process.

Along with the appropriations committee, Drennon will be in charge of distributing more than $100,000 in student fees to more than 50 Registered Student Organizations.

Drennon has been looking through the appropriations committee’s standing rules and procedures, as well as the list of the numerous RSOs applying for money, and weeding out the problems and inconsistencies, he said.

Some of the changes Drennon hopes to make include preventing RSOs from spending most of the money they get for year-end banquets by only allowing a certain percentage of the groups’ allocated money to be spent on the banquet, he said.

“We fund end-of-the-year banquets as a reward for good work. We have some groups whose biggest event all semester is this banquet. I don’t think that’s the best use of the student money – to pay for a banquet. I think that the best use of student money is to pay for programming and events.

“Obviously we want to reward people for doing good programming, but if you’re not doing programming, then what’s the point of the banquet?” Drennon said.

However, he said that “it’s not a huge problem, but it’s an issue that can better serve students.”

Every year the standing rules are changed to the treasurer’s liking, he said.

This year is no different but Drennon wants to make sure that he has the approval of the appropriations committee, and will pass the new rules to them for approval.

“This will give [the rules] more weight,” and allow the appropriations committee to be much more clear on questions that arise, he said.

Another way in which Drennon hopes to prevent problems is by creating a process for the reallocation of money that groups don’t spend.

Historically, the treasurer has made decisions about how groups can reallocate the money they were given for a specific event, Drennon said.

Allowing the treasurer to have so much say on the matter “breeds the possibility for corruption,” and Drennon is working on trying to make sure that reallocation is approved by the entire appropriations committee, he said.

“It’s just a much better policy,” Drennon said.

Although he’s still trying to work out the kinks of the system, Drennon seems excited about the numerous programs this semester.

“I’m really excited about some things on campus this semester,” he said.

“You never realize what all is here until you flip through [the list of groups who have approved funding],” Drennon said.

He named off one event after another that he hopes to attend.

Drennon’s grasp on the budget for the upcoming year would indicate that he’ll be able to attend most of those events, and without any worry about the funding he and the appropriations committee are working hard to get right.

– Arkansas Traveler, Sept. 11, 2006

[Original profile available here.]

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