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Budget unveiled to council
By John Intini
University Students' Council VP-finance Derrick Taub projected a $253,000 financial operating surplus at last night's USC meeting, before introducing what he called a "good news" budget.
Taub identified four general reasons for the turnaround from the 1998-99 budget. Included among the reasons were a 4.6 per cent increase in student enrollment, overall fiscal conservatism, strong performances in the operations and access to reliable timely accounting information.
When discussing the proposed budget for 2000-01, Taub stressed the need to be consistent. "Ninety-five per cent is steady state business," he said. "In other terms, no changes to the status quo."
Part of the proposed effort to not rock the USC financial boat included a freeze on the USC's basic fees which, under this budget, would remain at $169.12. Base fees were suggested to decrease by $1.52. Student's should only feel an increase to fees based on the health plan and the referendum-supported $16 increase to the London Transit student bus pass, Taub added.
He further explained the Campus Trust, the collective health plan of numerous universities, remained the best model and the cost of the plan was predicted to increase by 9.6 per cent. However, concrete numbers would not be known until early May, he added.
SzeJack Tan, USC president, asked Taub to explain why there was an increase to the University Community Centre expansion fee of .56 cents to $11.81 and the accessibility levy by .27 cents to $5.63. Taub responded by stating these fee increases were mandated by a past council to increase by up to 5 per cent per year.
The changes to the Wave also had an impact on this year's projections and next year's budget. Taub explained the Wave effectively initiated the first part of a two part plan over the 1999-00 school year by decreasing expenses by $100,000. Taub said now that the expenses have been decreased, the second part of the long-term plan can be implemented which is to increase traffic through new marketing strategies.
When asked by King's College president, Jamie Algate, about the speedy recovery from last year's dismal results, Taub said it was vital to erase the debt for a couple of reasons. "Insurance companies don't like to see debt," he said, adding a second reason was the desire of the USC to run similar to a not-for-profit organization.
Social sciences councillor Ray Novak agreed with Taub. "This had to be done," he said, in terms of what appeared to be a quick recovery. "We can't lobby on tuition if we can't first have our own financial matters in order."
Novak added it was vital to view this progress as a start and use future budget surpluses to decrease student fees.
Taub described the outlook for 2000-01 as positive and said his budget predicted a $313,000 surplus for next year.
The budget will now be analyzed by the USC and will be debated and voted on at the USC's Annual General Meeting next Wednesday.