Concordia Retracts Over $103,000 from CSU, Union in Deficit

CSU Finance Coordinator Recommends Fee-Levy Restructuring

  • According to John Hutton if the CSU continues its current spending habit, the union will run dry by next summer. File Photo Brian Lapuz

According to their recent 2017-2018 audited financial statement, the Concordia Student Union’s cash flow is tightening. The CSU’s Finance Coordinator John Hutton said that if the CSU continues its current spending habit, the union will run dry by next summer.

Their operating budget, which at first was projected to end in a surplus of about $87,000, but instead the CSU incurred a deficit of over $200,000. Their advocacy and clubs budgets also ran a deficit of about $52,000 and $78,000 respectively. The CSU’s fiscal year ended in May.

Hutton said the deficits are largely due to funding cuts from the university. Since 2015, Concordia would send over $103,000 a year to the CSU. Though Hutton told The Link the university has since realized the money they’ve been transfering was too high, and in turn “retroactively clawed back” their funds.

Hutton said the CSU only found out after the fact that the university took the funds back. In turn, the CSU’s predicted student revenues for budgeting were incorrect, as less money than anticipated arrived.

“Our assumptions of how much our fee revenues would grow, was wrong. We were expecting a certain amount to come in and they didn’t come in, which created an error in the target,” said Hutton.

“They literally took money out of us. But also the money we projected to come, didn’t come in,” continued Hutton.

Other Factors

The biggest problems, said CSU General Manager Robert Henri, came from their operating budget—a projection of how much the organization plans on spending and receiving—as well as the Student Space, Accessible Education and Legal Contingency fund.

The total net-worth of the CSU is over $13,000,000, but this is largely due to the success of the SSAELC fund over the fiscal year. The SSAELC fund—which is used to fund student space initiatives and projects—saw an increase of about $346,000, totalling to a surplus of over $10 million.

“The SSAELC fund had a fantastic year on a revenue side,” said Henri. “We had investments that did very well […] But there was an operating loss in the CSU this year, that increased the situation. Those were the two issues.”

The CSU’s Housing and Job Office also saw a deficit of about $15, 000, but Hutton said “this isn’t a huge problem.” HOJO typically sends a grant application to the Dean of Students, and usually receive about $20,000 a year from them. But, according to Hutton, they didn’t file their grant application this year.

Additional items that increased the operations expenses include retroactive increases to executive salaries, which added $56,504 to their expenses for the year. Hutton also pointed to the cost overrun in last year’s elections, which was mainly due to the fine incurred on former chief electoral officer, Nicholas Roberts when he “trashed” the Fine Arts Student Alliance’s posters.

Fixing the Problem

To balance the budget between the operating fund and the SSAELC fund, Hutton proposes that the CSU hold a referendum this fall to change their current fee-levy structure.

It won’t be a fee increase, said Hutton. He’s proposing that the SSAELC fund levy is reduced, and that the levy for advocacy, clubs and operations are increased to an equal amount.

“It’ll be a decrease to one fee and increase to three others, it’ll be balanced out. So the SSAELC fund would be collecting a lot less money each year, then we’ll be able to have that cash flow for other services,” said Hutton.

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