Between the Motions: In final AMS Council meeting of 2021/22 year, councillors approve preliminary budget

AMS Council ran for over four hours on Wednesday night. Here’s a recap of what you might have missed at the jam-packed meeting.

Councillors approved the 2021/22 AMS budget, saw an update on the AMS Equity Plan and received the report from the Ad Hoc Events Structure and Audit Committee.

AMS projecting a $1.3 million deficit

Council approved the 2021/22 preliminary budget that projected $4.5 million in expenditures, $3.2 million in revenue and a $1.3 million deficit. Notably, this year’s deficit will be significantly higher than the 2020/21 deficit of $550,000.

President Cole Evans encouraged councillors to not worry too much about the deficit.

“While it's not an ideal number, it's just a consequence of the pandemic, and it’s unfortunately something we have to work with ... The bright side is that that number has the potential to improve if things get better,” he said.

The budget operated on a few assumptions surrounding the pandemic: a projected enrolment of 55,000 students, an investment contribution of $500,000, COVID-19 restrictions remaining in place in the fall, no government subsidy after June, the Pit reopening in January and the reintroduction of Block Party.

But VP Finance Lucia Liang noted that since the finalization of this preliminary budget, the AMS has heard that the government subsidy had been extended — something that would be reflected in the next budget update.

Some aspects impacting the budget this year include the minimum wage increase — it goes up to $15.20 an hour in June — delays in hiring, a reduction in the events budget, a reduction in business contribution and an addition of a new housing service, among others.

Draft of Equity Plan to come within days

After delays, the Equity Plan should be written out in draft form by the end of the week.

Adeline Huynh, hired consultant by the AMS to oversee and draft the AMS Equity Plan, presented the findings of the team’s consultations and spoke at a high level about the contents of the plan itself.

Students in general reported that they wanted more frequent communication from AMS execs on decisions, better transparency around finances and a more clear AMS elections process.

An environmental scan by Huynh found eight systems within the AMS that “create and reproduce inequities.” She said the plan would provide recommendations to address those issues.

Huynh emphasized the need for a permanent equity and inclusion role to “address the issue of institutional memory” — and likely more than just one position.

Evans said they’re considering developing an equity subcommittee to ensure progress on the plan is monitored. More on the plan will be brought to Council in the next couple months.

End of the AMS Events saga

Council created the Ad Hoc Events Structure and Audit Committee after AMS Events hosted a Halloween pub crawl — a pub crawl that the execs said they didn’t know was happening.

The committee was intended to look into the issues within AMS events and propose some resolutions to those issues.

Evans brought forward 11 proposals to address issues in areas such as student oversight, accountability, risk management, communication and accessibility and diversity of content.

“We created a number of different proposals that we talked about that have the greatest potential for success in our current environment,” he said.

Council voted to dissolve the committee and create the Ad Hoc Committee on AMS Events Principles and Ethics to continue the work to address further changes needed within the department.

“Some of the more structural pieces have been taken care of and so now the work really starts to get into the nitty gritty of what the principles and values are.”