Stuart paws over the budget.
the Gauntlet

Moneeeeey...the Students' Union allocates their stash

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There is always a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow--at least when that rainbow is in MacEwan Student Centre.

The 2007/08 budget for the University of Calgary's 65th Students' Union passed its first reading during the Students' Legislative Council Tue., Jun. 5, with a predicted net revenue of $637. SU vice-president operations and finance Fraser Stuart said the budget was a success, as the SU is a non-profit organization.

"The SU's goal is to be a service to the students," he said. "And a well-managed business is the best way to do that. Our revenue generation goes right back to the students."

The SU owns and operates MSC and, as a result, receives revenue from all of the services located in the building. In 2007, MSC Conference & Events had a net income of $269,816, and the Den and Black Lounge generated $162,780 in revenue. Although these services-- as well as the many successful concerts held in Mac Hall--are large revenue generators, Stuart noted there is a high operating cost to maintain the services.

"On the whole, [the money is going to] the cost of goods as well as wages because we are a service-based industry," he said. "And that is across the board, not just at the den."

The SU also received over $1 million in rent from the Mac Hall business tenants in 2007, and while Stuart said the rent varies from business to business, he declined to provide any specific numbers. However, one tenant, who asked not to be named, expressed concern about the cost.

"Whenever there is a new contract, they increase the rent," said the tenant. "They already said they will increase the rent, but I'm not sure by how much."

In addition to providing projected costs and revenues for the various SU-operated services, the budget also outlined the amount of money set aside for each of the executives' portfolios. Although the presidential portfolio had the highest operating cost--at $157,396--over $100,000 of this money was set aside as honoraria for commissioners, which Stuart noted was an increase from previous years.

This year's budget also included a set amount of money for each of the executives to designate towards unplanned projects brought forward by commissioners.

"Halfway through the year a great project might come up and there is no money for it," explained Stuart. "As a commissioner, there is a little bit more wiggle room."

As the VP op-fi is in charge of club funding, as well as the travel and conference funding, Stuart's own portfolio was presented with the second highest operating cost at $126,244.

All five members of the executive were budgeted to receive a salary of $34,079 per year.

With the fees collected each semester, U of C students contributed over $1 million to last year's budget. This money was reinvested into services for students.

While Stuart did not foresee any issues that could seriously affect the budget, he noted it's not set in stone. If the province of Alberta decided to ban the sale of tobacco on campus--a current proposal--then the SU would lose close to $30,000 in tobacco revenue, as projected by the budget.

"It will be a concern because [tobacco] is a revenue that goes to the students," said Stuart. "But we will tackle that bridge when we get to it."

The SU also received money from the U of C's current contract with Pepsi, but due to the confidential nature of the agreement Stuart could not reveal any figures. Formal presentations for all companies involved in the renewal of the cold-beverage exclusivity contract will begin within the next two weeks.

The second reading of the budget will take place at SLC Tue., Jun. 19.