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ASB president seeks changes to budget in future

Kelsey Dockery

Through the 2011-12 academic year the Associated Student body has introduced new Scantrons, hosted the Black and White Affair and created the Two+2 program.
What is not publicized is how much it costs to buy all the Scantrons, how much it costs to put on the affair and to create the new meet and greet.
That money comes from the ASB’s yearly budget and is allotted by its treasurer, John James.
Though James remains the acting treasurer, he is currently working in Houston in an accounting internship.
ASB comptroller Garner Reesby said the transition of James moving from Oxford to Houston has been a smooth one.
“John is more of the face while (comptroller) Chris (Brantley) and I really ask the tough questions,” Reesby said of allocations to student organizations in an earlier interview.
James said the only thing that has changed is that he isn’t there in person.
“I still perform all of my duties from Houston,” he said. “I just work from an email/phone call perspective. I hold my office hours through email rather than in person now.”
James said the day-to-day work is still done through email, before being approved by the Dean of Students office.
He is still being paid as full time ASB treasurer, while Reesby and Brantley do not hold office hours.
“They serve as my cabinet, just as (ASB president) Taylor McGraw has his cabinet,” James said.  
McGraw said James being gone has been a little bit inconvenient, but it hasn’t been a huge problem.
“If it had happened in the fall we would really be in trouble,” he said.
After looking at the 2010-11 budget of approximately $60,000, James and McGraw felt it was time to ask Larry Ridgeway, vice chancellor of student affairs, for an increase.
“They gave us a gracious 40 percent increase,” James said. “This has been tremendous, and we are thankful for that.”
That jumped the total up to an even $100,000 for the budget.
“We determined that all of the increase would go to funding student organizations, which is one of the most important parts of the treasury in my opinion,” James said. “We are also looking into creating a new scholarship sponsored by the ASB.”
McGraw said a new roll over policy was implemented this year. In the past, unspent allocations would go back to a big student affairs pot.
“This year we changed it to where we get those rollover funds this year,” he said. “We’ve got about $20,000 from last year.”
McGraw believes the cabinet and senate will spend all of their money by the end of the year. He said the biggest problem with their budget is that they can’t give away as many prizes to students as they want to.
“We want to be able to give back to students but through procurement rules we can’t purchase the prizes,” he said. “Anytime we give away an iPad or an iPod Touch those have to be donated.”
McGraw said that even with that rule, the cabinet has taken the challenge of trying to find creative things to do for the students.
This year the ASB set aside $15,425 on salaries. McGraw will earn $3,600 this year while the vice president earns $2,475, the secretary receives $2,250, the judicial chair $3,300 and the attorney general $800. James will make $3,000. The salaries are a set pay in the university constitution.
McGraw said he will make a recommendation to change the constitution to where the treasurer, attorney general and secretary will be an appointed position without salary.
He said he wished there had been money to pay his cabinet this year.
“It’s tough to keep them motivated for an entire year when they aren’t receiving any type of reward for it,” McGraw said.
The ASB cabinet received $20,500, senate $1,000 and the justice department received $500. The ASB holds $5,000 aside for office supplies and another $5,000 for a contingency fund.
James said the budget for the ASB has gone well so far this year, with few changes to the internal budget.
“We have funded the most student organizations ever this year,” he said. “We have been able to give student organizations more per organization than ever before due to the increase in budget. We have been very excited about this, and we got a very positive response from organization’s about the funding process in the fall.”
James said the main goal is to allocate as many resources in the fairest way possible.
“We have been working to find a system that works the best this year, which presents our greatest challenge,” he said. “It is the principle challenge every new treasurer faces, so it is an ever-evolving challenge.”
James said he and the other comptrollers strive for the perfect system, but meeting each organization’s individual needs is their first priority.
For more information on ASB and how it spends its money, visit http://dos.olemiss.edu/org/umasb.