Looking inside the AMS services budget

CoGro expected to have $51,160 deficit in 2022-23

The AMS services budget includes $32,330 for the Food Bank.
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Queen’s students can ride the bus for ‘free’ after the Alma Mater Society (AMS) reinstated their $3,142,500 contract with Kingston Transit. 

The Journal sat down with Tina Hu, AMS vice-president (operations) to discuss the 2022-23 AMS services budget—and various AMS initiatives. Annually, the AMS allocates $10 million in student fees to provide students with a variety of services, job opportunities and privileges. 

Bus-It, for example, is funded by a $122 mandatory student activity fee. 

The AMS Food Bank, which is funded by a mandatory two-dollar student fee, is receiving $32,330 this year. 

“The grocery budget is—we’re essentially hitting our cap every week. [The food bank] groceries leave every single week quite quickly through patron use,” Hu said in an interview.

The Food Bank fee is going to referendum this fall for an increase to three dollars. 

When budgeting this year, the AMS felt the pressures of high inflation, legislated increases in minimum wage, and a strained supply chain. 

“We typically assume that 25 per cent of students will opt out of [optional fees] and that’s just based on like historical data,” Hu said. “Historically we’ve been very accurate with that assumption. So, we’ve been comfortable moving forward.”

This is the AMS’s first year providing all their services in-person post-pandemic. 

“Services are viewed as an umbrella. So, you look at all nine of them together,” Hu said on creating the operations budget. 

Common Ground Coffeehouse (CoGro) is expected to have a $51,160 deficit this year despite bringing in an estimated $919,632 in revenue. 

“The [CoGro] deficit is mainly due to price of goods and number of employees that [CoGro] has to employ,” Hu said.  

“When we look at the actual financials, you actually see that [CoGro] is coming in at a higher revenue than expected and they’re actually having lower expenses due to [an] effective staffing structure.”

To address the Printing and Copy Centre’s (P&CC) $100,825 deficit, the AMS is organizing a merger between the P&CC and Studio Q—which the budget expects to take in $19,938 in profit this year—for the 2024-25 academic year.

“It gives us a really optimal 24-ish months to put that plan together, [and] ensure that we’re not cutting any student jobs,” Laura Devenny, chair of the AMS Board of Directors, said in an interview with The Journal.

“As you can see [in the budget], Studio Q and P&CC [are] profitable together.” 

The Studio Q and P&CC merger, along with the return of The Brew and The Queen’s Pub, are all dependent on completion of the JDUC redevelopment. 

The redevelopment pushed AMS offices to relocate to the LaSalle and Rideau buildings, resulting is a higher-than-usual marketing budget of $81,800. 

“We’re really looking to reinvigorate the student audience [and] re-engage this year. So something that we’ve done is we’ve really put in funding and support for our marketing and comms office,” Hu said. 

The only budget item yet to be approved by the AMS Assembly is next year’s Orientation budget, which is currently sitting at $552,070. 

Unlike the AMS services, the AMS government and offices run a net-zero budget to ensure all the student dollars are being funneled back to students in the form of services. 

“This money is put towards student programming, which is very different. The services are very client focused business,” Devenny said. 

“But this Orientation Week, clubs, elections and referenda, environmental sustainability month—these are the types of advocacy-based and student-focused initiatives you see around campus.” 

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