The University of Calgary Students’ Union passed the first draft of its 2013–14 operating budget on Tuesday, June 11, during Student Legislative Council, outlining the organization’s fiscal plans for the upcoming year. The budget was passed unanimously with 14 votes. A majority of nine was needed for the budget to go through.
SU vice-president operations and finance Eric Termuende presented the budget late during SLC. He began by discussing the SU’s net revenue, which has grown considerably since 2010.
“For 2013–14, our projected bottom line is roughly $1.3 million,” said Termuende. “Between 2010–11, our bottom-line revenue was $500,000. That means we’ve seen a $700,000 increase in that time, but keep in mind that we are a not-for-profit organization. Just because we have $1.3 million, that doesn’t mean that it goes to staff, executives or SLC. It goes to increasing our services, which matches our primary objective of serving and representing the students.”
This $1.3 million in net revenue is larger than most student unions in Canada because of the money the SU makes through the MSC, as the building’s vendors and events generate significant revenue.
The total budget for the fiscal year comes out almost even, with a $284 surplus.
Aside from student services and administrative costs, money will go towards paying off debt on the MSC mortgage, which tops $4 million, and a contingency fund that the SU uses to offset future expenses that students would have to bear.
The total amount full-time students will pay to the SU will remain at $34.50 per year — a number that has not increased in 17 years.
SU president Raphael Jacob said at the meeting that few student unions have the luxury of keeping their student fees at the same rate for such a long period of time.
“Very, very rarely is a student union in a secure enough position that they can keep fees this low,” said Jacob.
Money acquired from student fees accounts for only nine per cent of the SU’s total revenue.
There were a number of new funds added to the executives’ budgets, including a $500 discretionary fund set aside for U of C Board of Governors student representative Michael Smith. Jacob said he decided on the new fund after Smith requested some minimal financial backing for obligations he has with the SU.
“[Smith] mentioned that the SU does not provide him with a lot of support, which is a fair point to make. The Board of Governors is a really high-level committee with a lot of play makers on it,” said Jacob. “I decided to set aside that $500 amount with the caveat being that in advance, he and I would approve any use of it. It’s not a slush fund for him.”
Jacob said that the total money the SU will use in the upcoming year will likely be less than what is budgeted, saying he would like to leave some breathing room in case unexpected expenses come up.
“The worst thing you can do in a budget is require more money than you budgeted for. It’s always better to have more money that’s left unused and can be refined in years going forward than to have less,” said Jacob.
The second and final vote on the budget will occur on June 26 during the next session of SLC. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. in Council Chambers, located in the MSC. Students are welcome to attend.