$9 AMS specific fee increase passes at AGM

Increase due to cost increases in the AMS IT Office and Sustainability Office, VP (Operations) says

Vice-President (Operations) John Manning (right, with AMS President Kingsley Chak) says the fee last increased in 2004.
Vice-President (Operations) John Manning (right, with AMS President Kingsley Chak) says the fee last increased in 2004.
Journal File Photo

Students can expect to hand over an extra $9.02 to the AMS next year.

At Tuesday night’s Annual General Meeting, Assembly approved a motion to increase the AMS specific fee, which funds most of the AMS’s operations, from $54.62 to $63.64.

This year’s $54.62 fee generated approximately $734,639 in revenue.

AMS Vice-President (Operations) John Manning said the fee hasn’t gone up since 2004, except as a result of the consumer price index (CPI).

“If you look at the trends, the fee … last went up in 2004-2005 by a $5.34 increase and before that it went up in 2002-2003 by a $9 increase,” he said.

Next year’s fee will also take CPI into account, Manning said, meaning that the total will be $63.64 multiplied by CPI, which is usually about two per cent per year.

Last fall Manning told the Journal the AMS was considering raising the annual fee to stop running a loss. At that point, Manning said he thought the specific fee would go up by $5 or $6.

The Board of Directors’ Specific Fee Committee has been meeting all year to come up with a recommendation. Manning said the committee looked at the situation from two angles.

First, Board added up substantial changes within the AMS over the past few years to come up with the fee, and then the committee tried to project what next year’s deficit would be if the specific fee wasn’t increased. Manning said their projection

—$115,000 in the red—was a rough estimate.

He said the biggest contributor to the fee’s increase is the Information Technology Office (ITO), which cost the AMS $85,000 in 2004-05 and $155,000 this year.

“Everything’s becoming more digital, and so we’ve had to increase the number of people working in the Information Technology Office, as well as the number of servers and switches and capital IT hardware,” he said.

The ITO accounts for $5.20 of the $9.02 fee increase.

The second biggest factor affecting the increase was the creation of the Sustainability Office two years ago, which tacked an additional $1.86 onto the specific fee.

“When [the Sustainability Office] was added, it didn’t come with any sort of a funding plan, so the AMS has been picking up that additional cost … and that’s sort of caught up with us.” Every AMS commission has grown over the past couple of years, making up for additional increases. But increases to the ITO and Sustainability Office expanding are indicative of a general trend, Manning said.

“The world’s becoming more digital, and sustainability’s becoming a focus for every large government, so we’re now investing in ways of the future and new priorities.” Manning said student fee revenue comes into the AMS Assembly budget and a portion of it goes toward Assembly-allocated programming—commissions and the Sustainability Office. Additional money is allocated into the general office budget and dispersed amongst the other offices.

Manning said the AMS can’t budget for a loss in the Assembly budget, but they can in the general office budget.

This year the AMS budgeted a loss of $74,930 in the general office. Manning said revised projections are predicting a $90,000 loss—an increase that can be attributed to legal and professional costs he couldn’t discuss in detail.

“The loss that we budget for is indicative the need for more funding from the specific fee,” he said.

Manning said the specific fee increase was $9.61, but because AMS services also contribute money to the General Office, the total was adjusted to $9.02.

“All services pay what’s called an administrative fee and that’s somewhere typically between $5,000 and $40,000 for the year, and that goes to the general operations,” Manning said.

He said the administrative fee has been going up for the past couple of years in order to keep student fees as low as possible. The Board of Directors set a target for the services’ total contribution. This year services contributed $332,000 to the general office. Over the next couple of years, the contribution will increase to $360,000, Manning said.

“We set a target, the AMS will be working towards that and the overall objective is to keep student fees as low as possible by having the services contribute.”

Manning said the increase in administrative fees could lead to a decrease in the AMS specific fee, but it depends on changes caused by the move to the Queen’s Centre. Some services will be shut down during the transition to the Queen’s Centre, which could affect revenue. For example, Alfie’s will likely be closed down at the end of next year for up to five years.

Manning said the Specific Fee Committee has a mandate to assess the financial requirements of the AMS and determine an appropriate fee.

“If the committee felt on any given year that the specific fee was too high, then the recommendation from the committee would be to lower the fee in the future.”

He said it’s hard to predict when the next increase to the AMS specific fee will occur, but he said he hopes it won’t have to go up for three to five years.

Where will the increase go?

$5.20—Information Technology Office
$1.86—Sustainability Office
$0.84—Municipal Affairs Commission
$0.54—Social Issues Commission
$0.52—Academic Affairs Commission
$0.49—Human Resources Office
$0.26—Campus Activities Commission

The difference is made up with contributions to the fee from the following:
$0.75—Communications Office
$0.26—Advancement Office (position has been eliminated)
$0.59—Services contribution to the General Office

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