While the rest of the budgets are being cut, the execs have made a $70,000 cash grab. What makes the whole thing more offensive is where it’s going. Here are the highlights of new/increased funding in the “Exec Offices” budgets:
*$7,200 for additional exec health plans, above and beyond the AMS’s own student health plan ($1,200 per exec)
*$4,600 for cell phone plans
*$1,250 increase to furniture budgets
*$9,500 increase to “Conferences & Official Business”
*$5,500 increase to “Partnership Building”
*$22,500 in new funds for “Provincial Lobbying” – supposedly membership dues for an as-yet-non-existent pan-BC lobbying group.
*$9,000 for Lobby Days
*$11,000 increase to executive committee “Special Projects”
*$12,000 increase to other executive “Special Projects”
*$14,000 for “Discretionary Allocation” by budget committee
The items above total to just under $92,000 of new/increased spending in the exec portfolios, and for what? Most are either exec perks, or vaguely-defined slush funds.
The rationalization offered is that this shouldn’t matter because of the overall totals. The preliminary budget allocated $660,000 for Student Government while the current budget allocates $689,000; the increase isn’t massive, is still down from last year’s $751,000, and some movement between preliminary and final budgets are to be expected so everything is fine. But then how did the exec budget end up ballooning so drastically?
What the preliminary budget didn’t hint at was the axing of the Policy Analyst position, which cost ~$70,000. When the Policy Analyst position was eliminated, for which no explanation is obvious, it provided a massive injection of unallocated dollars into the student government portfolio. That’s how the execs managed to find so much unassigned funding to devote to their own uses. There were also a bunch of funds resulting from the elimination of a number of assistants/commissioners (savings ~$45,000).
Why not put some of it back into AMS Services, avoiding cuts? Why not save it by putting it back in the AMS’s funds? Why not put it into holding an end-of-year event? Why even cut the Policy Analyst in the first place? Instead, all of the funding, and more, was allocated to the exec portfolios.
The whole thing is blatant hypocrisy by the executives: a massive cash grab while they are sounding the alarm of a budget crisis and preaching fiscal responsibility on everyone else. AMS Council shouldn’t accept this type of behaviour.
Meeting the budgeted savings for the AMS’s three big events hardly seems like a slam dunk either. Here’s why:
Welcome Back BBQ: The major cut is decreasing band costs from $9,500 to $3,000. However, at the same time there’s 20% increase in profit from food and beverage. Will more people really come out to see a lower-profile act?
FirstWeek: All of the “savings” doesn’t come from spending less, it comes from selling more. The more conservative cost is predicated on the AMS more than doubling their revenue from frosh kits, increasing ticket revenue by 1/3, and doubling sponsorship dollars. This seems pretty risky… the obvious question is ‘what if that extra revenue doesn’t come in?’
Shea (AMS Events dude) apparently proposed a revenue-neutral model for FirstWeek which was rejected as not being realistic. So then what does that say about what the AMS Exec are proposing for the last event…
Block Party: After saying in the preliminary budget that it would be cut by $7k, it was eliminated from the budget completely. When this fact was noticed, and subsequently tweeted and written about, the AMS was caught completely flat-footed. Among wildly conflicting reports from various execs, they denied Block Party was canceled and were aghast that media would interpret its complete omission from the budget as such.
Furthermore, not only is Block Party not canceled, the AMS claims that they are very intent about supporting some last-day-of-classes event, assuming that it’s revenue-neutral. (Although, as mentioned above, they thought a revenue-neutral FirstWeek was unrealistic). Here are the details they’ve figured out so far:
Where will it be held? Not sure yet.
What will it be called? Not sure yet.
Who will be organizing it? Not sure yet.
Who will be paying for it? Not sure yet.
What will it consist of? Not sure yet.
What happens if a revenue-neutral model can’t be developed? Don’t know.
What if a revenue-neutral model is developed but fails, incurring large cost overruns? Don’t know.
Block Party clearly lives on, and how dare you suggest otherwise!