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UA Approves Finboard Appeals

By Dana Levine

The Undergraduate Association Council recently voted to approve the Finance Board’s allocation of more than $32,000 in appeals funds to student groups.

The budgeting process for each term has two allocation sessions, a regular allocation phase during which two-thirds of the available funds is allocated, and an appeals phase, during which the final third is allocated. Groups which are unhappy with their initial allocations may participate in the appeals phase.

This term, Finboard drastically changed the allocation process to reduce underspending, giving groups more flexibility in spending their funds and slightly overallocating.

“We allocated a bit more this year. The whole curve moved up a bit,” said Finboard Chair Edgar H. Martinez ’00.

New system cuts underspending

Under the new system, budgets are divided into four segments: operations, capital, events, and publicity and printing. A group is allocated funds in each category, and may use those funds toward any expense within that category.

“This was a compromise. We wanted groups to be able to buy staples even if they left them off their budget, but the Finboard still needed to have some control over how groups spend money,” said UA President Matthew L. McGann ’00.

The previous system led to vexing, often absurd, budgeting problems. Last year, the UA was unable to buy tissues because the group forgot to include it in its proposed budget. “Basically, the system wasn’t flexible,” said McGann.

System allows overallocation

The new system also allows for overallocation, a technique designed to counter underspending. “What we’ve seen in the past is that there is a consistency in the percentage of their money that the groups spend,” said Martinez.

Martinez note that groups spend the same percentage of their budgets now, when the UA’s budget is $200,000, as they used to spend when the UA had less than $100,000 to allocate. Finboard currently has a formula which allows it to calculate how much money will not be spent by student groups, permitting it to budget that much more.

Martinez noted that many groups have been satisfied by the increased funding levels in recent years. “There have been more happy people this year and last year because there is more money to allocate,” he said.

McGann also said that the UA has transferred to a new and more flexible accounting system. The new program allows groups to see how much money they have left in each portion of their budget.

Eventually, groups may be able to pay for on-campus services by simply transferring funds between accounts.

“I’m really happy with the way that it turned out,” said McGann.