Volume 94, Issue 92

Thursday, March 15, 2001


NEWS

USC budget gets the green light

VP hopefuls near election day

Strip search ends Trent standoff

Case of the phony professor sparks inquiry

Farmer protest slows down the 401 - Lack of gov't funding causes outrage

Briefs

Planet Me

USC budget gets the green light

By Aaron Wherry
Gazette Staff

After little debate, the University Students' Council budget for 2001/2002 passed through council last night by an overwhelming majority.

The budget, which forecasts a surplus of $61,730, recommends a student fee increase of 1.3 per cent of $4.67 per student. The increase was accounted for by the annual increase in the cost of living.

Last year the USC passed a budget which froze student fees and projected a surplus of $316,555, but instead finished $51,424 in debt – a difference of $367,979.

Several members of council spoke against and for the motion before the budget was called to question, amid the protests of several councillors, and passed by a wide margin.

Reaction to the budget was mixed.

Governmental affairs commissioner Scott Belton expressed concern for the fee increase. "It still bothers me that we expect [administration] to freeze tuition, but we increase our fees," he said, before asking next year's council to work hard toward freezing USC student fees.

Belton also questioned why the ticket prices at Western Film could not be increased, in light of the ticket prices at rival movie theatres, to help ensure better financial stability.

USC VP-finance Dave Brebner, said the entire movie business has had a sluggish year and many theatres have been forced to close so an increase might not be the best decision.

Business councillor Prabu Hariharan, pleaded with council to participate in more debate before praising the budget and asking what operational changes students can expect over the next 12 months.

Mark Sellars, the USC's general manager, said council can expect a much more disciplined structure to the USC's various retail, media, operational and restaurant services. "We need to move away from operations with a lot of overhead," he said.

The budget report submitted by Brebner states the USC will focus on financial stability rather than operational change. "No major operational changes are being proposed in next year's budget," it reads. "The USC would like to first ensure our financial stability before undertaking future expansions."

Several councillors also expressed concern for the USC's retail operations and other services, including the USC's daycare service.

Scott Bielby, the Science Students' Council representative, asked about the benefits of such a daycare service. "How many undergraduate students benefit from Western daycare?" he asked.

Brebner said all daycare services were being looked into.

Speaking in favour of the motion were Neil Kapoor, chair of the Student Caucus on Governance, and Andrea Boulay, USC VP-campus issues.

"It would be easy to speak in favour of a budget with no increases, but we need to look to the future," Kapoor said. "There are tough choices that need to be made and this budget makes them."

Boulay asked council to consider the younger students who will benefit from forward-thinking decisions. "We're going to see the effects of this budget two or three years down the road," she said.


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