College Finance Director Greg Holmes has forgiven the $100k budget deficit accrued by ASLCC Legal Services. The budget deficit was publicly disclosed at Student Senate meetings in October 2016. Confusion over how the deficit was incurred and who was responsible for it persisted until December.
It was discovered that ASLCC Legal services had accrued the deficit over a ten year period with little oversight. Holmes told ASLCC that if they came up with a plan to monitor demand for Legal Services and its fees, they would forgive the deficit. “We would take care of it,” Holmes said.
According to Senator Cairo Smith, “Holmes told ASLCC ‘Formulate a prudent budget and accommodate aspects of budget allocation that administration would like to see, then we will see what we can do.’”
Soon after a meeting in December, the student senate was informed by email that the ASLCC Legal Services budget deficit had been forgiven.
Smith feels that the budget director was holding the ASLCC Legal Services budget deficit over the head of student senate in order to leverage them into implementing financial policy.
Questions still remain as to how the ASLCC Legal Services budget deficit happened. Legal Services is associated with student government but the senate does not see the Legal Services contract or vote on it. At some point over the last ten years there was confusion as to who was responsible for the Legal Services contract. “It is impossible for any of us to make sense of what is going on in the student accounts,” said College Finance Purchasing Coordinator Bob Baldwin.
The legal firm, Access the Law, was retained to help students with landlord disputes at a time when student government was heavily involved in renters’ rights activism.
The initial arrangement with Legal Services is uncertain to both College Finance and Dean of Student Life Christina Walsh. Senate President Robert Kirkpatrick said, “When Legal Services was created it was created with the help of student government. It was recorded as ASLCC Legal Services; however Access the Law is its own thing.”
“We (College Finance and Walsh) had two fundamentally different understandings as to what ASLCC meant in terms of budget,” Walsh said.
Finance Director Greg Holmes has budget authority for the Legal Services contract. Retired Dean of Student Life Barbara Delansky advocated for the continuation of the contract and Holmes signed as a deputy clerk of the college. The most recent contract from 2016 is signed by Vice President Dawn DeWolf. These contracts have no oversight by student government and draw their budget from student activity fees. Until 2015 there was no specific funds allocated for the Legal Services contract.
Moving forward, ASLCC and College Finance are working on comprehensive budget procedures to give a clearer understanding of accounting for student program accounts. Student government is currently in the process of hiring a new treasurer and the Student Activity Fee Committee will have members from various student clubs as well as student senators. The contract for ASLCC Legal Services is currently under review.