SGA Surplus Raises Questions About Budget

SGA Treasurer Proposes 25 Percent Cut

By Josie Grimes

INDIANA — Indiana University of Pennsylvania graduate student Mary E. Haberl works two jobs to pay for her college tuition.

“It’s really hard to make ends meet,” said Haberl in a Nov. 21 interview in Stabley Library. “Every little bit helps.”

Haberl said she doesn’t understand why the Student Government Association doesn’t cut its own budget if it runs annual surpluses in a spending plan based on student activity fees.

“It is the student’s money they are collecting,” said Haberl. “That doesn’t make sense to me.”

In the years 2004 through 2009, SGA’s budget has grown. And each year the student-government organization has left a budget surplus of unspent money.

In 2004, the budget totaled $12, 271.  The 2009 budget totaled $12,957, a 5.6 percent increase, according to SGA budget reports.

Stipends paid to the SGA’s president and vice president account for more than a quarter — 26.3 percent — of the budget, according to SGA Treasurer Michael A. Stutzman.

And those SGA officers’ salaries have increased. In 2004, presidential and vice-presidential salaries accounted for $3,187 of the SGA’s budget.  In 2009, their salaries account for $3,407, a 7 percent increase.

SGA pays President Jessica E. Carson, a sociology major, $203 every two weeks, according to Carson. Vice President Joshua J. Moss is paid $100 every two weeks.

One student found it difficult to justify the SGA officers’ pay.

“I would feel that their salaries would make sense if I saw some changes,” said health and physical education student Ashley R. Bergamasco in an interview in line at the Hadley Union Building food court on Oct. 13.

Bergamasco said she would like to see some changes in student meal plans.

“I feel like all my favorite meals are being cut out of my meal plan,” she said. “I don’t know why student meal plans aren’t a bigger concern of the SGA.”

SGA Treasurer Michael A. Stutzman defended his fellow student government officers and the money they earn.

“For the amount of work they do, they definitely earn their pay,” said Stutzman in an Oct. 9 interview in the HUB lounge.

Stutzman urged students to see for themselves by joining the SGA.

“Students can make their vote count as much as faculty members if they join the IUP Senate, but the student must be a member of SGA,” Stutzman said. “It’s a shame that more students don’t take advantage of this opportunity.”

But SGA President Carson said pay hikes for SGA officers make no sense. And she wondered why the SGA budget over which she presides hasn’t been cut.

“It doesn’t make sense that we increase stipends,” Carson said during a Nov. 19 phone interview.  “I don’t really understand why the budget hasn’t been cut. I guess it’s because they hope the SGA will grow.”

Treasurer Stutzman agreed that the SGA budget could be reduced – by about 25 percent.

“I don’t think it would be necessary to run up the budget that we have this year,” said Stutzman. “I think if we were working with a budget from $9,000 to $10,000 it would give us a little play, but also cut unnecessary funds.”

Haberl agreed.

“I definitely think the amount of money we give to them should decrease if it’s not being utilized,” said Haberl.

Josie Grimes, a senior majoring in journalism, is from Bessemer, Pa.

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