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The Daily Tar Heel

Student Congress Finds Funds

Finance Chairman Tony Larson said former treasurer Patrick Frye didn't tell anyone he transferred money that should have been in Congress's checking account into an account for investment reserve funds.

Larson speculated that Frye, who graduated in May and is now a Harvard law student, put the money in the investment account so it could accrue interest.

But because Frye did not notify any of the officers about the $18,000 in the investment account and because Frye neglected to pay the Student Activity Fund Office $40,000 in operating costs last semester, Congress initially thought it was dealing with a significant shortage of funds this semester, Larson said.

"There are a lot of things that are the last treasurer's fault," he said.

But Frye said Larson's accusations are unfounded. When figuring the annual budget last year, Frye said, he set aside $40,000 to pay SAFO, and Larson should know the money's location. Frye also said his transfer to the investment account was a move he made often so money could be accessible while accruing interest.

Since discovering the funds in the investment account last week, Larson said the original bleak estimation of $11,500 in fall subsequent appropriations has about doubled. "There is no great crunch on funds," he said.

Subsequent appropriations, which Congress doles out in the fall and spring, are composed of reversions and leftovers from the annual February budget process.

He said the roughly doubled projection of about $23,000 in fall subsequent appropriations will increase even more when SAFO receives and knows the exact amount of fall student fee allotment.

But Larson said before all the $23,000-plus in fall subsequent appropriations is freely accessible, he must have Congress pass a bill that allows him and Student Body Treasurer Kativa Parker to access the funds.

After Frye put the $18,000 into the investment account, Larson said an auditor combined that account with Congress' emergency funds account. Congress cannot access the emergency account, which must maintain a $40,000 balance, without a two-thirds vote.

If the bill passes, Larson and Parker will be able to draw funds from the emergency account if there is an excess of $40,000. This bill, which must be presented before the Rules and Judiciary Committee, would allow the two to freely access and appropriate the $18,000 currently resting in the fund. And Larson said the discovery of the $18,000 has given Congress more breathing room. "We could come up to a normal amount of funds," he said.

Sophomore Scott O'Day, founder of the new group Students for a Free Tibet, came before the finance committee Thursday evening asking for $792.06 -- an amount he decreased after hearing reports that Congress had very limited funds.

O'Day and fellow group member sophomore Kate Witchger left the meeting pleased with the committee having favorably recommended a whittled-down request for $382.97. "We're happy we got anything," Witchger said.

And in the end, Larson said there was some good that came out of Frye not putting the reversions money in SAFO's checking account. "The good thing about the money being put in the investment account is that it earned a good amount of interest -- $1,000 at least."

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