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By John Intini
The University Students' Council approved the USC's 2000-01 budget at last night's meeting with a near unanimous vote, but not before a lengthy debate over the budget's inclusion of the health plan opt-out fee for all students.
Social sciences councillor Ray Novak requested ammending the budget to not take into account money gathered from charging students who opt-out of the health plan. The numbers in the proposed budget, which had been presented by the USC's VP-finance, Derrick Taub, at last week's council meeting, was based on money which would be collected from students who opt-out.
After over an hour of discussing the amendment which produced a great deal of lively debate and confusion over the legality of an opt-out council voted 30 to 26 against the amendment to the motion, with two abstaining.
Once the amendment was quashed, the budget was quickly passed. However, prior to the highly contentious amendment, a number of questions were raised for Taub to answer.
"This year's budget is not good news," said Rory Capern, the USC's Ivey Business school representative, before laying out his main points of contention with the budget.
Capern said while he understood the underlying reasons, he was concerned about using the budget surplus to reduce debt and added it was vital for future councils to make an effort to acquire the enrollment numbers earlier to better assess revenue. "When it's a surprise it raises some concerns," he said.
During the debate, Taub said it was vital the USC use the surplus to pay down the debt before turning to issues more capital in nature.
Scott Zack, honours business and administration president, described the numbers in the budget regarding the Wave and its projected turnaround as a "pipe dream."
Taub said he was personally insulted by Zack's claim, adding he has been upfront all year that the Wave would not make its projected numbers. He then reiterated an earlier claim that the Wave had successfully moved itself through the first stage of the USC's two part plan of restructuring by lowering costs of goods and now can concentrate on increasing revenue.
President of Western's legal society, Michael Rubinoff, commended Taub on the work put into the budget, but said it was vital for future councils to make greater efforts in reducing USC fees so as to have leverage when lobbying the school's administration on school fees. "You have to look at ways to be creative to reduce fees," he said. "No matter how little it is, it's the principle."
Taub said the newly ratified budget would be presented to Western's Board of Governors by next Monday.