Posters, T-shirts and free food are instruments being used by the Election Rules Committee (ERC) to attract interest in this week’s elections.
But while budgets were increased to allow the ERC to spend more this year, it may end up spending less, due to shifting positions.
This year’s ERC budget is $22,862, $814 more than last year. Of those funds, $7,040 is for programming and operating expenses, a figure that is down $1,292 from last year.
Payroll expenses increased the overall budget, from $12,090 in the 2009-10 school year to $14,150 in 2010-11. Other budget allocations include $378 for utilities, service contracts and fixed expenditures and $1,294 for administrative overhead.
James Bodden, supervisor of Senate elections, said there is a chance expenditures will not reach the budget. Of the two debates, neither cost the ERC budget money, as the first was hosted on Bulls Radio and Tijuana Flats donated food and refreshments to the second. On Monday, the Wake Up to Vote with Pancake Man event, offering pancakes to voters in the morning, cost $1,000.
Other programming and operating expenses included $500 for signs and banners and $3,500 for T-shirts, Bodden said. Another $1,000 has been set aside for food and drinks, but that money may or may not be spent, depending on whether sponsors cover expenses.
“(We have) a lot more sponsorships this year,” Bodden said. “The more money we get donated, the more money we’ll inevitably have left over. Previously, we had a budget set as to how we were going to do things like the food, so if we have money left over, it’s not a bad thing.”
Bodden said the reason payroll expenses were increased from last year is because they wanted to expand the role of the ERC.
“(Last year’s ERC was) trying to make the supervisor of elections position (begin in July instead of October, as in 2009-10),” Bodden said. “Unfortunately, the supervisor of elections wasn’t appointed until October. So there’s a ton of payroll that sat there (unused).”
The position of supervisor of elections calls for $9.55 per hour, with a workload of 25 hours per week.
Student body President Cesar Hernandez said he recommended someone who could have filled the position over the summer.
“Michael Calhoun went up in the summer, and if he would have been confirmed he would have been good (to go),” Hernandez said. “Senate didn’t confirm him.”
Khalid Hassouneh, Senate president pro tempore, said Hernandez was required by statutes to recommend someone for the position in July. He said statutes only require that the executive branch nominate a candidate by a specific date in July and no statutes were violated by Chris Leddy’s appointment in October.
“They nominated Mr. Calhoun, he went up, he failed, they went back to the three applicants, they re-advertised for the position again,” Hassouneh said. “Some of the same people interviewed for the position, some new people interviewed for the position and then they selected Chris Leddy.”
Without an ERC member on payroll prior to October, after the selection of Leddy, much of the funds were unspent. Bodden and Andrew Uhlir, the current supervisor of elections, were not hired to the ERC until December.
Leddy was appointed supervisor of elections, but resigned from his role on Jan. 14. He was replaced by Uhlir, who was hired with only two weeks to prepare before the election. With only two of five ERC positions filled, Uhlir and Bodden, whose position normally calls for him to work 15 hours per week, had to work a few hours beyond their allotted time per week and were paid for it.
The final three ERC positions were filled in January. Despite the gaps in payroll allocation, he said it is not possible to determine how much money will be left over for the budget.
“(The Activity & Service Recommendation Committee) budgets are from July 1 to July 30,” he said. “Most of that payroll is going to be swept back into unallocated cash.”
Hassouneh said leftover Activity & Service (A&S) fees go into the swept-back account at the end of the year and are used to pay for any over-budgeted expenses, before the remainder is returned to unallocated cash, the mother account for A&S fees.
The expansion of the ERC’s role can skew the final figure, which extends past the end of elections.
On Friday, Uhlir said this would allow the ERC more time to prepare and retain sponsors. Following elections, Uhlir can decide if his position should remain a yearlong position, as a committee will form to determine next year’s budget.
He said he would like next year’s budget to include yearlong positions within the ERC, but as of now his position ends shortly after elections.
“We want to keep a few people on staff if we can,” Uhlir said. “I don’t want the same thing (that happened) this year to happen again next year where things aren’t settled.”
On Monday, Uhlir took a different stance, standing beside Hassouneh.
Though he said it was “false” that the ERC would have nothing to do, he said he had no interest in expanding the role of the ERC.
“I don’t have any (interest), no not really,” he said. “Whatever they want to do is fine, I don’t know.”