By Ed Veilleux
Nothing surprises Charles Wilson when it comes to working out a budget.
“I’ve been on the board of a non-profit organization since I was 16,” Wilson, the 26-year-old executive administrator of the SGA, said. “I know what a budget looks like and what it should flow like.”
With that in mind, Wilson said this year’s SGA budget was “a little more difficult” than past budgets he has worked on, due to the fact that he inherited his job from someone who had a “different style” of running things and keeping their books together.
“You have to come from a very strict (way of keeping) records.
That wasn’t done to the same degree last year.
Another factor that made working on this year’s budget difficult is the SGA not having last year’s financial statements complete.
“Usually when planning a budget, it’s important to look at what was planned and spent last year,” Wilson said. This time, he didn’t have that luxury, as last year’s financial statements aren’t completed and returned to the SGA yet.
The one number Wilson could rely on heading into budget time was the number of students in the SGA this year, due to having a reliable estimate from Laurentian administration. Administration estimated an SGA population between 5,150 and 5,350 students. The SGA planned the budget around 5,200 students.
Overall, the budget is one of maintenance, with an eye on getting things in order, according to Wilson.
“When you look at this budget you see, more-or-less, a maintenance budget,” he said. There’s no brand new spending in it. We have a few tweaks and a few budget lines (that have changed).”
Among things the SGA has decided to make a point of supporting are Art Support and recognizing the association’s fiftieth anniversary.
Art Support is a program which funds art projects around campus and for students, in general. For example, the funding could be used to put on a concert at the school or off-campus, for students.
For the SGA’s fiftieth, the association plans on putting on various events throughout the year to celebrate the milestone.
Though some budget initiatives are positive, Wilson said there are always areas of the budget that could use more money.
“The sad story of any budget is every single budget line could have a lot more money on it,” he said. “You have a certain pool and you have to make the best decisions for the most people.”
In terms of revenue, the SGA has gained $43,300 from last year, totalling $322,400 from membership fees. The SGA has a total revenue of $1,298,954 and its expenditures are $1,297,500. The budget is a balanced one, with the SGA coming out with a little more than $1,100 left over.
For Wilson, the budget sets the SGA on the right path, he said.
“I think the budget is a strong step in the right direction,” Wilson said. “We have a strong budget. But, at the end of the day, it’s also our deeds that will (allow people) to judge us. A budget is just a piece of paper. It reflects our priorities in terms of where we will spend money. But, we have to also realize that we have to provide meaningful services to our students. And, I think we are.”