KSU passes a deficit budget

Marie Dolcetti-Koros, the KSU's financial vice president. (Photo: Alexander Johnson)

Marie Dolcetti-Koros, the KSU’s financial vice president. (Photo: Alexander Johnson)

The King’s Student Union’s 2018-19 budget passed at this year’s fall annual general meeting with a deficit, meaning that expenses will outweigh revenue this year.         

The budget differs from the draft version that was presented at the 2018 spring annual general meeting by several thousand dollars. The spring general meeting is where students voted to adopt the draft as the starting point for a finalized 2018-19 budget. That budget accounted for $144,292.20 in operating expenses balanced with revenues, while the budget approved for 2018-19 accounts for $153,032.87 in operating expenses, and spends $870.99 more than it brings in in revenue.

Marie Dolcetti-Koros, financial vice-president of the KSU, said many of the differences between the draft budget and the one presented at the fall meeting come from reviewing and updating the numbers.

“Over the past couple of months, I’ve been doing a lot of work to track down numbers and make sure we have an accurate representation of the numbers that we can count on in this budget,” she said. The review began with last year’s financial vice-president.

One example is the projected revenue from the KSU’s ATM in the basement of the arts & administration building. Last year’s budget predicted $3,000 in ATM revenue, which the draft budget for this year expected to increase to $3,300. That number dropped to $500 in the approved budget after the review.

“Two years previously during the Wardy renovations, students were using that machine a lot more, so we saw an increase in the revenue,” said Dolcetti-Koros. She says the number stayed as is in the budget until it came to the KSU’s attention this year. The new number is based on financial estimates from last year, though the KSU hasn’t received the official unaudited statements yet.

The single greatest operating expense difference between the draft and approved budgets is the banking and payroll fees, which increased from $1,600 to $8,362.80. Most of those fees come from compensating their payroll company Ceridian for services and paying taxes.

“This isn’t the case where these fees haven’t been paid – clearly they have been paid, and it was just a matter of making sure these numbers were accurately reflected in our operating budget,” said Dolcetti-Koros.

While expenses increased from the draft budget numbers, so did the budgeted revenues, thanks to higher student enrolment.

Spending on union work decreased by $5,499.34. The KSU stopped providing funds for Study Snacks, a biweekly evening where upper-year students edit first year students’ foundation year programme papers, and stopped offering free day planners.

The KSU also cut spending on free sexual and menstrual health products after the university administration agreed to cover half the costs. Overall, the majority of union work spending was cut to reduce budget expenses, with the greatest amount cut from contingency funding. The only item to receive more funding was grad week, which Dolcetti-Koros said they decided on after reviewing the cost from last year. Grad week spending goes towards end-of-year celebrations for the graduating classes.

Dolcetti-Koros said the budget also reflects the feedback she received from student consultations. Based on these consultations, Dolcetti-Koros said students want to see support for the union’s events, campaigns, advocacy work, the King’s Racialized Students Collective and community organizations like the Loaded Ladle and South House. These priorities are why a large portion of the union work expenses are devoted to the campaigns, events and outreach lines, despite having had to cut costs.

The KSU will also continue its pilot project from last year and hire two external commissioners to take on a project each over the course of the school year. The Wardroom will finance one of the positions, which will be dedicated to creating its community guidelines. The focus of the other position has yet to be determined, but Dolcetti-Koros expects it will be decided on in 2019.