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Thursday, July 24, 2014

MSA Budget Committee approves budget draft with amendment

Catalano asked non-Budget Committee members to leave the meeting during voting.

David Freyermuth/Graphic Designer
David Freyermuth/Graphic Designer

March 12, 2014

The Missouri Students Association’s Budget Committee reviewed the 2014-15 budget draft for the second time Tuesday.

The committee meeting was open to all senators and third parties interested in the budget draft. Everyone was allotted time for discussion and amendment proposals.

Academic Affairs Committee chairman Ben Vega presented an amendment that proposed transferring $750 from the Senate’s meeting food budget and $500 from the executive inauguration.

Instead, this money would be used for Senate advocacy events, such as Hate Wall and a future mental health fair, Vega said.

“Student advocacy events have been a shortfall, particularly in the last budget year,” he said. “MSA Senate retention has dropped abominably, and we aren’t able to host the number of advocacy events we would like to.”

Vega said that because Senate has no funds to match with other sponsors’ donations, potential contributors may dictate and reshape the aim of an event.

Director of Student Services Zach Folk asked the committee to consider taking $500 from a different budget draft item that was not the inauguration. MSA Vice President Kelsey Haberberger said, however, that it would be difficult to fit such a change into the current budget draft.

“I don’t think it’s possible to choose somewhere else for it to come from because we’ve already had those conversations, and we’ve already made it the best functioning rough draft that it can be,” she said.

Student Affairs chairman Mitch Moonier suggested leaving the $500 for the inauguration and reallocating $750 from Senate’s food budget to be used for advocacy events. Vega said this change to his amendment was acceptable.

All non-voting members were asked to leave the meeting before the deliberations. Budget Committee chairwoman Shelby Catalano said this decision allowed the five new members in the Budget Committee to see both sides of the arguments made.

“I did not trust a large group of people to not try to implement their opinions in the deliberation of it,” she said. “In my experience in MSA, when there is a discrepancy or contention, there are a lot of loud voices being raised, and sometimes the loud voices are the ones who prevail. I think it was better for (the new members) to hear all sides.”

Ben Levin, president of the Associated Students of the University of Missouri; Secretary of Auxiliaries Sandy Patel; and Maneater reporters stayed in the meeting, citing the MSA bylaws and chapter 610 of the Missouri State Statutes as legal grounds for remaining.

Catalano also prefaced the vote by giving members a choice between a secret ballot vote and an open vote because it would help protect the new committee members.

“I have been told previously by my (committee) members, that due to the nature and intensity of what both sides were saying, they did not feel comfortable saying things out loud,” she said. “A lot of senators have hopes of moving up in MSA, and you can’t do that if you make enemies.”

The budget passed the committee with the amendment, with seven votes in favor and two abstentions from Sen. Derek Chung and Sen. Jacob McKinley. The budget draft will be presented at the March 19 full Senate meeting for first reading.

Previously, however, access to the budget draft was limited. The Maneater submitted a public records request March 6 to obtain a copy of the budget draft. The rest of Senate was not given access to a copy of the budget until Tuesday, when MSA Senate Speaker Ben Bolin attached the spreadsheet to the legislation to pass the budget that he sent to all senators.

“I believe no one but (Haberberger) and the budget chair (Shelby Catalano) have a copy right now,” Bolin said last week.

Haberberger explained that she had limited access to the budget because the document is subject to change.

“It’s (the Budget Committee’s) job to oversee those decisions that are made before it goes to Senate,” she said. “So it is considered a private document until Budget Committee submits the legislation to pass (the budget).”

Bolin said he was interested in reviewing the budget in advance on behalf of senators who might consider revisions to the budget, but he understood Haberberger’s rationale to keep the document private.

“I’d like to see it so that I can help out senators who are considering changes,” he said last week. “We would be delighted to see a copy of the budget, but I respect the vice president’s wishes to make these deliberations privately.”

The budget draft is currently estimated at more than $1.6 million for fiscal year 2015, which is less than $28,000 of the previous year’s budget.

Although the carryover amount more than doubled to more than $97,000, significant decreases in other sources of revenue were in the budget’s first draft, caused by a decrease in estimated revenue.

Estimated revenue from event admission charges took a dive from more than $306,000 in the previous budget to about $202,000 this year. This is due to Jesse Hall closing July 1 for renovations, said Chelsea Fricker, director of the Department of Student Activities.

At this time, other changes include a proposed $6,722 increase to student officer salaries and nearly $10,000 less in estimated transfer revenues.

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