A committee has been created to investigate the Student Government Association’s budget after a formal request for review was submitted by members of the House and Senate.
Senator William Joseph authored a letter requesting the formation of the review committee. The Brighton senior said the budget process in SGA lacks the transparency required by the rules of the organization.
“I’ve heard from numerous representatives who are concerned about where all this money is being spent and why they have had no voice in the matter,” Joseph said. “We’re concerned because the e-board may be spending money with no oversight.”
Several main points for investigation mentioned in the letter included Treasurer Margaret Blackmer neglecting her duty to present the budget proposal to the general board at the beginning of the year and the executive board failing to get approval for budget amendments from the legislative branch.
The committee is tasked with examining the budget and the actions of the SGA executive board to determine whether or not the SGA bylaws have been violated.
Members of the board include SGA President Marie Reimers, Vice President Patrick O’Connor and Blackmer. Blackmer said she is confident the review committee will find no signs of misconduct.
“We believe the review committee is an attack against the reelection campaign Marie and I are running,” the Lake Orion sophomore said. “We’re not worried at all because the allegations are false.”
The four committee members and their alternates were chosen at random during the SGA meeting on Monday.
Freshman Cody Van Buren and senior Caitlin Richards were selected from the Senate to serve on the committee. Senior Karlo Delos Angeles and sophomore Victoria Dennis were chosen from the House of Representatives.
A review committee would normally be led by the treasurer, but due to the nature of the review, the committee will be headed by Parliamentarian Brad Barlog.
The request letter contained the names of 11 members of the legislative branch who support the review committee.
The SGA budget proposal must be approved by the general board at its first meeting in the fall. Joseph said the budget was never approved by the general board, leaving the House and Senate out of the budget process.
According to the minutes for the first meeting on Sept. 9, the budget proposal was presented and approved by a majority vote.
The treasurer must present a budget update to the Senate and House when budget activity involving more than $75 occurs, according to bylaws. The first budget update for the year was given on Nov. 18 and showed more than $4,000 had been spent, according to SGA records.
“The budget update only happened after repeated requests for it,” Joseph said. “They failed to give us updates for the first couple of weeks, which is against the bylaws.”
Blackmer said she was unaware of her duty to provide budget updates during the beginning of her term. Once she learned of the requirement, she said she began giving regular reports on the budget at general board meetings.
According to the SGA constitution, the budget needs to be published online in order to be easily accessible by the public. Joseph said the executive board has failed to comply with this rule.
Blackmer denied the claim and said the budget has been available through OrgSync throughout the year.
As a result of the request for the committee, SGA has amended the bylaws of their Constitution to require a budget update at general board meetings twice a month.