Student Union Should Break Even

Despite having $1,038,067.72 at their disposal, three of the Concordia Student Union’s six executives have already spent more than the amount they were allotted.

Led by a Speakers Series that is 208 per cent over budget and the lingering costs of an Orientation that spent $25,000 more than projected, the student union’s finances are suprisingly robust.

CSU VP Finance & Clubs Ramy Khoriarty, who took over the Finance portfolio in mid-January, is certain that the union will finish its fiscal year with a balanced budget.

“We will be near zero,” said Khoriarty, who expects a number of grants and delayed cheques from sponsors to arrive in the mail in the next few weeks. The money will bring the Speakers Series and Orientation budgets to balance.

Alarms were raised at the CSU Council meeting on Feb. 9 when Khoriarty told the 27 student representatives that he didn’t think the union could afford spending $1,900 on the Special General Meeting to be held on Feb. 14.

“The budget is tight,” said Khoriarty at the meeting after councillor Lex Gill proposed spending the money on the SGM.

Sitting in his office on Feb. 13, Khoriarty explained that although $195,717 was still unspent in the union’s budget—mostly earmarked for salaries and entitlements—the money for the SGM would have to come from the budget of VP External & Projects Adrien Severyns—one of the three executives running a deficit.

“We have a bit of a problem here,” said Khoriarty as he turned to the budget page containing the numbers for Severyns. “Speakers are at 208 per cent. We got sponsorships, but not nearly enough.”

Khoriarty had planned to reallocate money from the still buoyant Campaigns budget line—from which the CSU might fund the SGM—to the Speakers Series. With the motion having passed in Council, Khoriarty will need to find the money elsewhere.

When asked if more speakers were expected, Khoriarty was quick to respond.

“No,” smiled the VP Finance. “We can’t afford it.”

The deficit in the Speaker Series budget could partly be blamed on poor communication according to Khoriarty.
“There was some miscommunication between [President Heather Lucas] and Severyns. Lucas thought there was a budget line for Black History Month and Severyns didn’t know that MLK III was coming out of the speakers’ fund.”

The speech by Martin Luther King III on Feb. 10 put an unexpected $30,000 dent in Severyns’ budget.

The budget of VP Student Life Andres Lopez, the largest of any executive at over $300,000, was in a deep deficit due to a lack of sponsors during Orientation. Khoriarty confirmed that the shortfall would be erased with money owed by the university’s Concordia Orientations Initiatives Fund.

Unexpectedly expensive handbooks also put VP Sustainability & Promotions Morgan Pudwell’s budget in the red. Careful spending elsewhere in her portfolio largely erased her deficit, however.

When asked to explain his alarmist stance in Council, the executive leaned back and grinned.

“Some of it is scare tactics with the other executives,” said Khoriarty. “Look at their budgets; they spend as much as they have.”

In the case of any unexpected expenses, the CSU has one last cushion: a small executive. Wracked by resignations and shuffling, the union has operated for two semesters short one or two executives. With salaries of over $20,000 each, two empty positions represent significant savings.

“Globally, we are at 75 per cent of our expenses and we are near 70 per cent of our fiscal year,” said Khoriarty.

This article originally appeared in The Link Volume 31, Issue 23, published February 15, 2011.

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