Bartering for Bucks
By Jason Ménard
The financial path of the University Students' Council has been charted out and pending final council approval next week, the budgetary destination for the 1997-98 year will be an increased USC activity fee.
While the increase is minimal a proposed fee of $242.56 up from $238.51 this year USC VP-finance Chris Keith said he recognizes students may have some qualms about the increase.
"It's a paradox," Keith said. "On one hand students have been upset about the administration raising [tuition] fees and now their student representatives are doing the same thing.
"However, it's time to stop the losses and get the USC back onto a line of profit. I'm convinced this is the best thing we can do for the council next year."
Over the past two years the USC has dealt with a deficit in their budgeting. The actual deficit was $565,429 in 1995-96 and the council is budgeting to lose $81,567 this year. However, the projected loss is not yet in. The bottom line of the proposed budget shows a projected surplus of $83.
The increase in USC fees is integral to maintain the financial stability of the council for the coming years, Keith said. "I hope council will start looking at a balanced budget to build reserves." He added that past optimistic budgets have produced deficits which have not allowed the council to develop a surplus. "Little blips in enrolment cost us thousands of dollars on the bottom line."
As well, the proposed budget addresses the ability for council to deal with expansion well beyond the rate of cost of living and with the burden of a university-imposed occupancy cost which totals over $600,000.
Jim Walden, the council's general manager, said he feels this budget is more realistic than ones presented in the past. "During the past couple of years potential changes in the scope of USC operations have been so significant, finding a degree of precision in budgeting has been somewhat questionable," he said. "The bottom line has been somewhat circumspect and I suppose overly optimistic."
Following a number of years of renovations and negotiations over the University Community Centre, both Keith and Walden feel the council is reaching a point where it can more accurately budget for the future.
"Next year will be the first steady-state year of operations in three or four years," Keith said. "The headaches from expansion and down time from operations moving is over." Because of this, unexpected budgeting costs will not be incurred, he added.
The budget was balanced due to some small changes, good management of the health plan which decreased $10.21 and the elimination of the Green Plan levy. Walden said the levy was eliminated as it was installed to establish the recycling plan. Council now feels it is being used as a subsidy for university core operations.