By Saima Asad, June 9 2017 —
Students’ Legislative Council unanimously approved the Student’s Union’s 2017–18 budget at its first hearing on June 6. The budget projects a dramatic decrease in revenue.
Last year, the SU made roughly $10,000 in net income. This year, they are expecting just over $2,000. SU vice-president operations and finance Ryan Wallace said the decrease is largely due to the MacEwan Hall injunction. The October ruling forced the SU to forfeit management of the building to the University of Calgary, effectively losing $1.9 million in gross revenue from MacHall tenants.
“It’s just regarding the uncertainty around MacHall. We’re budgeting for less net income,” said Wallace. “Our budget is definitely very conservative just because of that uncertainty but hopefully it will turn out better than we project.”
The SU is expecting to receive 71 per cent of the revenue that previously got from MacHall tenants. The lost revenue has led to layoffs in SU facilities.
“Within our facilities budget we did have to lay off some staff in that area,” Wallace said. “Once the university took over as building managers, we no longer had jurisdiction in certain areas of the building.”
The SU is also projecting a large decrease in food services revenue. Last year, the Den brought in $62,414 of net income, compared to their projection of $14,639 this year.
“Minimum wage is increasing, so that’s definitely cutting into those margins. Food costs are increasing as well,” said Wallace. “Students are drinking less alcohol and they are also ordering less food from the Den.”
SU-run taco vendor La Taqueria is expecting a net income of $4,384 this year, about half of last year’s $8,968. Wallace said it is valued for the service it provides students instead of its profitability.
“We have La Taqueria because it is a service to students in the sense that it offers Halal options. It offers vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free options,” he said. “So, we’re really trying to make sure we have an option on campus for students that may not be able to eat at every other place in MacHall.”
Individual budgets for the SU executives were largely unchanged. LIke her predecessor, vice-president academic Tina Miller will continue to focus her budget on Teaching Excellence Awards and the Undergraduate Research Symposium.
The vice-president student life and vice-president external budgets will see program cuts and additions. The Lobby Training Program, which began in 2015–16 under former vice-president external Romy Garrido, will be discontinued to make room for Shubir Shaikh’s municipal election candidates forum. Vice-president student life Hilary Jahelka is cutting Pizza Days, an initiative started by Patrick Ma in 2016. She is reallocating funds to start an SU Tampon Fund.
“We offer condoms to the campus community, and tampon funds have been established at other universities as well,” Wallace said. “The SU is starting this project and hopefully the university will support it as well.”
SU president Branden Cave also altered his budget to make room for one of his platform points, the President’s Consultative Task Force. Cave also oversees bonuses and honoraria for SU elected officials. Monthly bonuses for EOs in the summer are being reallocated, while bonuses during the fall and winter semesters will remain unchanged.
Wallace says this change is consistent with the SU’s practices in the past three years, where elected official bonuses were not usually collected during the summer months.
“Essentially, they weren’t using that money so we ended up taking it out of the budget,” Wallace said.
The budget will be brought forth at SLC on June 13 for its second hearing. If approved, it will be put to a final vote at a later meeting.
“I’m really proud of this budget,” Wallace said. “I think it’s great to see that the uncertainty going on with MacHall hasn’t jeopardized the SU’s programs or services.”