Despite lower revenue, the KSU has increased funding for union work.
KSU financial vice-president Nick Harris was enthusiastic while presenting this year’s budget at the Fall Annual General Meeting, and students voted it in with some smiles.
“When we come together, we create a type of harmony. And what I think is that this budget reflects all the passions, the priorities, the interests, and the harmony of the King’s student body,” said Harris in his opening statement.
The budget shows that the KSU is working with less revenue this year — it dropped by $3,123 compared to last year, and was even $951.06 less than the 2019-2020 draft budget predicted last spring. Union work funding, which covers things like KSU events, outreach, and advocacy campaigns, primarily took the hit; last year’s budget allocated $4,379.01 for the work, but this year it dropped to $1,895.43.
However, this is still more spending than the KSU’s draft budget proposed at the Spring AGM, which allocated $768.03 for union work.
There is also funding available for a new student wellness initiative.
“I feel a lot better than I did last year,” said Harris in an interview after the meeting.
“I remember getting up [at the Spring AGM] and just having to keep on reiterating, ‘We are trying to go on a balance of financial sustainability, and we can’t go into somewhat of a deficit, we just can’t do that as a union,’” said Harris. “And I was like, ‘Aw man,’ ‘cause I really wanted to get up there and make sure that we’re funding things as a union.”
The drop in revenue comes from a drop in full-time students. Though King’s only lost five students overall compared to last year, it lost 68 full-time students and gained 63 part-time students. The membership dues for part-time students are half that of full-time students, which brought down the KSU’s revenue.
All of the KSU’s money comes from these dues and a $500 fee paid by the company that owns the ATM in the basement of the Arts & Administration building.
Where did they find the money?
Harris explained after the meeting that the increased funding for union work came from unexpected savings.
In the spring draft budget, the KSU had budgeted for the union’s full-time hospitality coordinator’s salary to increase by $1,416.32. When the coordinator decided to leave, the KSU had to hire someone new, which meant the salary for the position was reset to its base level. This saved the KSU $1,946.32.
The KSU saved another $200 when the King’s alumni association offered to pay for most of Grad Week, covering things like the luncheon. The KSU is still providing $100, which Harris thinks might go to paying the bagpiper.
The final budget also keeps some of the cuts from the spring draft budget, such as cutting $1,300 for travel and conferences. The KSU used that money last year to send a second representative to the Canadian Federation of Students national general meeting. This year they are spending nothing on travel and conferences, since the CFS always pays for one representative to attend.
Councillor appreciation was also cut from the budget, which is typically used to throw an appreciation party for KSU councillors and executives. Only four people were able to attend last year, which Harris said has been a trend in recent years. Because it seemed like a poor use of money to spend $250 on an event few people could attend, they are planning instead to have a potluck paid for by the executives.
“We still love our councillors and we have an amazing council this year of really dedicated individuals,” said Harris.
Where did it all go?
This newly opened up funding went to boosting spending on union work. Advocacy campaigns saw the biggest increase, jumping from $100 in the draft budget to $655, and events and outreach also increased, from $100 to $200 for events and from $0 to $200 for outreach.
“At the end of the day, we still had more money to shuffle back into our union work,” said Harris. “I’m a heck of a lot happier than I was last year.”
These increases line up with what Harris said he heard from students during budget consultations. From last spring until the new budget came out, Harris heard from roughly 200 to 300 students, where campaigns stuck out as big priority on campus.
“People really are receptive to Fight the Fees and all these different campaigns we have on campus. We want to make sure that stuff is really pushed for,” said Harris.
The money for campaigns is also a reflection of the amount of work that goes into it, said Harris. Because it requires a lot of work, they wanted to make sure it was well funded.
Students get some HALP
This budget also includes a $400 fund for the new Healthy Active Living Program, also known as HALP, which will provide workshops for students on a “variety of different things that don’t fit a certain box,” but all relate to student wellness, said Harris.
The HALP program will provide money for any student who wants to run a workshop and has the know-how to do it. Students will be able to submit proposals to the KSU and receive money for supplies and possibly a small honouriam for providing the workshop, which will vary in amount based on the student’s time commitment.
The original plan was to hire a HALP coordinator who would create and run a series of workshops. That changed, in part because students told Harris they don’t think one student alone can effectively improve mental health on campus.
“You’re not gonna tackle mental wellness and mental health in one year with one person, right? It’s a group effort,” said Harris.
HALP exists in part as a replacement for CUBE, an intramural sports program that ran a couple times a week in the King’s gym. Last year, the KSU hired two CUBE coordinators and paid them each $400, but the positions were cut from this year’s budget.
“In previous years, we hired people to [run CUBE], but half of the semester they were like ‘no one is coming to these events,’” said Harris.
Right now, HALP is still considered a pilot program, said Harris, but if students like it it may receive more funding in the future.
Submissions for HALP workshop proposals are expected to open after the November Reading Week.
Provided below is the KSU Fall Budget for 2019-2020.