Activities and service programs must cut expenses

University officials and Student Government Association leaders met with the advisers of activities and service agencies last week to announce budget changes that will affect spending for the rest of the semester.

An over-projection of available A&S funds by the budget office last year will force all agencies to scale back their budgets.

The university projected an A&S budget total of $3.6 million in the spring of 2005.

The problem?

Budget officials made the projections based on per-head count, not per credit hour, SGA President Ramon Alexander said. Because of a decrease in enrollment numbers, officials recently realized the numbers are closer to $3.2 million.

The difference in these numbers affects all A&S agencies – such as the Marching 100, Campus Recreation, Student Activities, the Center for Caribbean Culture and even SGA itself.

The A&S fee budget comes from the A&S fees students pay every year. SGA Adviser Dwayne Cole said the university predicts the amount of money the fees will bring in and allots a portion of that to SGA for A&S agencies.

And the university can only release revenue upon collection of that revenue, said Associate Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs Henry Kirby. During the fall semester, the budget office released 50 percent of the money to the A&S agencies, and normally would have released another 35 percent around this time.

But releasing 35 percent would put the A&S fund in a deficit, Cole said, and right now the university has only collected $2.7 million of the expected $3.2 million.

Now Kirby said it is up to the Student Senate and Cole to make the necessary adjustments.

“We’re looking at the financial balances of all A&S agencies,” Cole said.

“Based on their most urgent needs we are going to drip the money into the accounts instead of pouring it.”

The most important factor of slowing down spending is making sure the A&S fund stays in the black, said Alexander, 21, a senior political science student from Tallahassee.

But SGA is not making the budget cuts for the agencies.

Cole said they have asked the advisers to go back to the drawing board and make their own cuts based on how much money they need to survive before creating new budgets.

They are not touching the money agencies have left over from last year, Cole emphasized. Most agencies have different accounts to rebalance funds, but he said the changes will affect each agency differently.

“Some agencies need all 35 percent, while others can survive with less,” he said.

But “no agency is getting the overall amount of money that was projected,” Cole said.

And agencies that pay employees with OPS funds may be hit hard, Cole said.

This means agencies such as the Center for Caribbean Culture have to make some tough decisions.

The agency spent its 50 percent during the fall semester assuming the other 35 percent was coming this semester, said Osubi Craig, the assistant director for the center.

He said some of the center’s staff contracts are in jeopardy because they are included in the A&S allocations.

SGA originally allocated the center $31, 252 for OPS and $20, 504 for general expenses.

And the changes have “handicapped us,” he added because they are now struggling to pay for their Feb. 18 concert, which is their major spring event.

But even though the spending changes have hit the agency hard, Craig said he is glad officials met with advisers last week so they now have an understanding of what is going on.

“The tone of Cole was that the situation is dire and for (agencies) to cut back for the greater good.”

Cole also emphasized that the shortage also affects SGA because it is an A&S agency.

They are announcing cuts to programming this week, and he said there is “plenty of room to trim.”

The original SGA budget was approximately $1.19 million for the three branches, joint operations, personnel salaries, and SGA sponsored activities and events.

It’s fortunate “we’ve spent the year cutting and eliminating some expenses,” Cole said, but the shortage “is hurting our program.”

They’ve cut the Voters Comedy Jam during elections week and Cole said Be Out Day is “at risk.”

They’ve also reduced the cost of the various programs, receptions, leadership retreats and cut the use of t-shirts for specific events.

And they have begun to raise funds elsewhere to support programs.

Cole said SGA has always encouraged agencies to get funds from other places besides A&S funds, but “some are dependent solely on us.”

Contact Ebonie Ledbetter at