Office budget projects deficit

AMS yearly financial figures were released last week at Assembly

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The AMS General Office Budget for the 2013-14 year was released at AMS Assembly last Thursday, with projections indicating an increased deficit compared to last year.

Nicola Plummer, AMS vice-president (operations), compiled this year’s AMS Assembly Budget Package, which is released annually.

The General Office is a “budget within the AMS”, said Plummer via email to the Journal. It’s a service that covers every branch within the AMS.

Plummer said the AMS felt it was appropriate to budget for a deficit of $117,256 this year, as they had a surplus in previous years. For 2011-12 and 2012-13, the AMS posted surpluses of approximately $300k and $46k, respectively. As a not-for-profit organization, the AMS must budget for zero to prevent profiting, Plummer said.

“The AMS endeavours to budget to zero with the understanding that every year they run a surplus, they should run a deficit of equal value,” she said.

For the 2012-13 year, a $13,518 surplus was budgeted for the General Office. At the end of the year, the AMS faced a $74,179 deficit.

The Assembly Budget Package was released alongside Plummer’s Consolidated Budget Report that was presented to Assembly last week.

The Budget Package and the Consolidated Budget Report summarizes AMS finances and projects spending for the current year. Graphs within the Budget Report compare projections to spending over the last two years.

The report also addresses AMS projected expenses and revenues.

The General Office Budget, which is addressed in the report and budget package, “covers all administrative expenses of the Society that provides service to both the Government and the Corporation,” Plummer stated in the report.

The Society is the body of the AMS while the Government includes AMS governing bodies such as the Commission of Internal Affairs. The Corporation includes AMS businesses such as Common Ground.

Plummer said a deficit was projected due to an increase in expenses in some areas.

“[The deficit] is a result of increases in the Bus-It contract expense, permanent staff salaries, insurance and legal costs,” she said.

Bus-It is a program that covers the contract the AMS has with Kingston Transit, allowing free bussing for students.

University student fees as well as the Queen’s Grant cover fees for the program.

Due to an increase in ridership, fees for the Bus-It program have increased, contributing to the deficit, said Plummer within the report.

Plummer said she’s unsure as to why there is an increase, with the possibility of it being due to increased AMS advertising for taking transit.

The current contract with Kingston Transit was secured by the previous General Manger and Vice-President (operations) and is set to last two years.

Plummer said the incoming executive will be advised to further this contract.

“Bus-It contracts have always existed as long-term contracts and every year we work to keep minimal fee increases,” she said.

Increase in permanent staff salaries come from filling two vacant positions and creating more responsibilities and leading to a salary increase, Plummer said.

Cuts were also made within the General Support Services and administration allocation, which provides support to the General Office, as well as the Remuneration Support allocation, which supports permanent staff salaries, Plummer said within the report.

“[These were] decreased because programming and therefore spending was increased on the Government side and Assembly constitutionally cannot run a deficit,” she said. “So these cuts had to come somewhere.” Plummer said the Assembly’s budget has been strained this year.

She said the AMS is asked to create more programming, but they don’t have the budget to support what is developed.

Programs such as the Peer Support Centre have grown over past years, she said.

“Even though we continually make cuts to non-programming based costs, we just do not have the funding to support the level of programming that is demanded,” she said.

An increased deficit is also due to a “complicated operating environment” both “politically and financially,” she said.

“We’re operating in a more complex environment and a more litigious environment,” she said. This kind of environment is a growing trend in society, she said.

“An example would be the potential for someone to sue over an event that the AMS ran,” she said. “We must take additional precaution to ensure students employed by the AMS … are legally protected and insured.”

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