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Pace Center feels budgetary limitations

While USG has not gone over its budget for the past two years, some Pace Center for Civic Engagement projects have had to operate with a more limited budget.

USG president Shawon Jackson ’15 explained that USG has operated within its budget during his terms as president, noting that money has sometimes been left over. In those cases, Jackson said, the money remains with USG.

Jackson explained that USG has multiple accounts for different purposes, such as the general funds account, the social account and the Projects Board account, and said that the leftover money from one account can be used to cover outstanding debt from another account.

Not only has USG not needed to surpass its budget, but funding for it is on the rise. USG has reported an allocation of $182,229.44 for fall 2013, an increase of 3.5 percent from fall of 2012. The Projects Board was allotted $35,000 for the fall semester, which Jackson explained would be used to fund project requests by any student groups recognized by the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students.

Jackson explained that while the overall budget proposal is approved by the Senate at the start of the semester, any specific projects that require over $1,000 in funding must also be approved by the Senate.

USG uploads all of its budgets and monthly expense reports online in an effort to increase spending transparency.

While Pace Center Breakout trip leaders have also been spending within their budgets, funding for the trips appears much more limited. Amantia Muhedini ’15, who led a Pace Center Breakout trip to Arizona over fall break and coordinated a trip to New York over spring break, explained that the leaders and participants of the trips were asked to keep the cost at a minimum. Muhedini noted that although leaders did not necessarily run out of money and had received training on how to budget their funds properly, they were forced to make some sacrifices for the trip.

“Basically, we had to live off sandwiches and cereal for a week, and maybe go to a restaurant once or twice. Even when we went to the restaurants, we had to set a limit per person,” she said.

She added that Breakout trip leaders would be required starting next year to look for funding outside the Pace Center in addition to the funding they already receive from Pace.

“For example, if you’re leading an environmental breakout trip, you could look to all the environmental groups or departments and maybe ask for a thousand dollars, and we’ll make that a new component of Breakout,” she explained.

She explained further that Pace Center Breakout trip leaders also face budget limitations through the emergency fund and tax-exempt credit card they are given. Amounts on the card and in the emergency fund are fixed before the trip occurs.

“They put on the card however much was agreed before the trip, and we’re not allowed to touch the emergency fund unless we’re stuck in Texas or something like that,”she said.

Muhedini noted that traveling expenses and food made up a majority of the costs during these trips and explained that the fee participants are required to pay in order to go on the trip is used to cover some of the trip’s expenses.

The Pace Center declined to comment, but noted that it had “adequate funding” for all its projects.

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