After complaint, Soto says remodel cost $3,000 less

An office remodel that caused two students to seek the impeachment of student body president Rudy Soto cost close to $3,000 less than ASPSU originally estimated, Soto said.

Editor’s note: The online edition of this article is different than the version that appeared in our weekly print edition. An early draft of the article was sent to the Vanguard’s printer, preventing the full article from printing in our weekly edition.

An office remodel that caused two students to seek the impeachment of student body president Rudy Soto cost close to $3,000 less than ASPSU originally estimated, Soto said.

While two students sought Soto’s impeachment because they believed he spent $8,000 on the Associated Students of Portland State University (ASPSU) office remodel and ASPSU-labeled clothing, Soto actually spent $5,150.72 from two years of student government budgets. Soto bought items as varied as ASPSU-branded clothing ($1,475), office supplies from Office Depot ($2,271.69) and a set of furniture from Costco ($1,179.98).

The Judicial Board will make a decision next week about the request to impeach Soto. The impeachment, filed by PSU students Alex D’Aurora and Jesse Anderson, is based on the grounds that Soto misused student fees to purchase items for the office remodel and clothing.

On July 3, Soto told the Vanguard that he planned to spend $8,336 for new ASPSU-branded clothing and to remodel the office. Since then, he decided to not purchase a $2,000 laptop computer and was unable to purchase some items because he missed the purchase cutoff for the 2006-07 fiscal year.

Most purchases in a group’s yearly budget must be made before the last week of June if the group wants Portland State to authorize the purchases by the end of each fiscal year. Soto was unable to purchase about $400 of office supplies and $769.86 worth of chairs he intended to buy because he missed the cutoff.

Soto spent $3,970.74 on the remodel and clothing in the 2006-07 fiscal year and $1,179.98 in the 2007-08 fiscal year. Soto delayed the purchase of a love seat and couch until July so that he could spend money from the 2007-08 ASPSU budget.

He said he used $1,179.98 from the office and administrative supplies section of that year’s budget to buy the furniture.

The money used in the 2006-07 budget was made available by a $10,000 reserve fund budget request Soto made to the Student Fee Committee (SFC) on June 15.

Soto said he made the request because the previous ASPSU administration spent $11,362 on two unplanned events in the 2006-07 school year. Soto said he believes the 2006-07 administration should have made a reserve request to the SFC for the money to pay for the unplanned events, rather than use money from the general 2006-07 ASPSU budget.

The SFC allocates close to $12 million in student fees to student groups each year, including the Vanguard, ASPSU and athletics. If a student group finds itself needing additional money, the group can request money from the SFC’s reserve fund.

SFC guidelines permit student groups to file reserve fund requests, before or after an event, only in extenuating circumstances.

D’Aurora and Anderson said they filed for Soto’s impeachment they believed it was Soto’s intention use the funds from the reserve request to pay for some staff salaries, the office remodel and apparel. The SFC guidelines would not permit this, stating that reserve funds may not be used to “enhance items within the current annual operating budget.”

Soto said that he did not intend to use the reserve funds to pay for the salaries, the remodel or the apparel. Instead, he said the funds would pay for money the 2006-07 administration overspent, subsequently opening up funds in the 2006-07 ASPSU budget for Soto to use toward the remodel, salaries and apparel.

D’Aurora and Anderson said if Soto were to do this, it would let student groups do whatever they wish with SFC allocated funds, and provide no oversight from the SFC. The two students said at the Tuesday night Judicial Board meeting they believe it is inappropriate for any student group, ASPSU included, to use funds differently than what was approved in their SFC budget.

The Judicial Board heard these arguments Tuesday and should make a decision about Soto’s impeachment next week.

Soto said he made the request after he and then-ASPSU adviser Natalee Webb had estimated that some expenses for the month of June would leave ASPSU with close to $1,051.53. Because Soto had hoped to remodel the ASPSU office and pay his new executive staff for the month of June, he said he did not believe the $1,000 would cover that cost.

By the end of the 2006-07 fiscal year (each fiscal year ends on June 30 and starts on July 1), Soto and Webb realized they had overestimated expenditures. Instead of $1,150.53, the ASPSU budget was left with about $2,795.20.

The total cost to pay for the staff salaries, ASPSU apparel and the office remodel for inJune was $5,270.74. After the SFC approved Soto’s $10,000 reserve fund request, Soto said that the money from the reserve request would only be used to make up for the two events that the previous ASPSU administration overspent money on.

Because he was able to use $2,475.54 from the reserve money to pay off the overspent events, Soto said that this released additional money in the 2006-07 budget. Soto said that this means that the only money he spent on the remodel, apparel, and to pay his staff half of their salaries–a total of $5,270.74–was from the original 2006-07 budget, before money from the reserve request was added to it.

Now, the 2006-07 ASPSU budget has $7,524.46 left in it from the reserve request Soto made to the SFC. The leftover money in the budget will likely be channeled back into the ASPSU reserve fund, Soto said.

This is the clearest explanation Soto has given of his decisions about the June 15 reserve request and office remodel. Some students were left uncertain and concerned that he had misused student funding after the Vanguard initially reported on his remodel. Soto said that this is the first time many of his staff members have fully understood his decision-making.

D’Aurora and Anderson said that they care less about impeaching Soto than about changing the way that student groups operate. Most student groups receive a budget from the SFC with various line items that tell the group how to spend their money. D’Aurora and Anderson said they have a problem with student groups, such as ASPSU, not spending the money according to those line items and adjusting the way they spend budgets.

Look for more coverage of the petition for Soto’s impeachment and the process of spending SFC funds at