Pie-eyed: Capital budget stuck in the mail
By Brendan Howe
Well into second semester many University Students' Council operations are still waiting for their piece of the capital budget pie a budget which has been largely used up by costs associated with the relocation of the post office.
The $300,000 budget is allocated for capital improvements of USC services and operations, on top of what is required for their regular operations. Because of a contractual commitment with Canada Post, the post office which is owned by the USC, had to be moved in early October from its old location near the entrance of the University Community Centre to the inside of InPrint in the basement.
Renovations and moving costs were originally estimated at $19,000 by USC general manager Jim Walden but are now estimated at over $27,000. Point of sale equipment and new counters must also be bought because of the contract and are estimated to cost $33,000.
Walden said the USC now has the invoices from physical plant for the renovations and the numbers are more finalized. "Based on the information we had then, that was the best estimate that could be given."
The total cost for renovations of the post office, Gizmos and the InfoSource is estimated at $55,951.
Mark Wellington, manager of the Wave, said they requested several items under the capital budget but did not receive any. He explained he was told the USC would prefer if the managers toughed it out a bit.
"If you're a manager you live with that stuff you don't get everything you want."
The Wave did receive $1,078 for a new railing while its counterpart The Spoke was given a toaster oven costing $1,151.
Mark Serré, manager of The Spoke, refused to comment saying he didn't think the capital budget was something The Gazette nor Western students need to know about.
"Because last year we came in at a loss, we've been telling all the managers that if it isn't absolutely critical, we're holding off to save students' money," said Lucy Pinheiro, USC VP-finance.
Other large expenditures included $14,883 for billiards equipment at Gizmos as well as $12,556 for table and curtain dividers used in the UCC atrium for clubs weeks and other groups renting space there.
Pinheiro said the table and curtain dividers were bought in an effort to save money because the items were previously rented. Walden noted the equipment was bought at a very low per-unit cost.
Other operations that wanted a piece of the budget included CHRW which requested microphones and compact disc players and received neither. Mario Circelli, manager of CHRW and TV Western said $2,700 worth of used television monitors and communications equipment were given to the television station but their requests for more cameras and editing equipment were not granted.
Circelli said not having these things is not hindering the two media outlets from doing their job but it is hindering improvement. He added the USC as a corporation is experiencing a transition year but he expects the equipment next year.
Almost $240,000 of the capital budget has been spent or commitments have been made for the money. Walden said managers of USC operations are currently reviewing their end-year projections and once the projections are finalized the USC will decide if it can afford to spend the rest of the money in the budget. He said there is no plan at the moment for what to spend it on.
The USC collected approximately $3.2 million from over 20,000 students this year.