AMS projects $1.25 million deficit, $5.45 million in spending in 2022/23 budget

The AMS is expecting to collect $4.2 million in discretionary revenue, spend $5.45 million and run a $1.25 million deficit during the 2022/23 fiscal year.

While there was no preliminary budget this year following two separate suspensions of code, AMS Council approved the final budget at its June 22 meeting after hearing a brief presentation on the budget at its June 1 meeting.

A public version of the budget was not available until June 27, but the June 1 presentation on the budget contained some major differences from the public version released three weeks later. Projected expenditures leaped from $5.36 million to $5.45 million and the deficit increased from $1.16 to $1.25 million. It is unclear what contributed to these changes.

Here is a breakdown of this year’s budget.

Where is the $4.2 million in revenue coming from?

The AMS is expecting $4.2 million in revenue for the 2022/23 fiscal year. This is based on $3.3 million in discretionary income and $873,986 in transfers in the budget from the Sexual Assault Initiatives Fund and the Indigenous Fund.

In total, the student society is projected to collect $27.2 million in various student fees, including almost $12 million from the Health & Dental Plan fee, $5.5 million from the Student Union Building renewal fee and $2.5 million from the general membership fee. The AMS also expects to get $500,000 from its investments and $372,188 from its businesses in the Nest.

However, a majority of these revenues are considered non-discretionary funds, meaning the AMS has already committed to spending this money on existing projects like the Health & Dental Fund. In total, the AMS has $24,745,673 in non-discretionary income this year.

In an August statement sent to The Ubyssey, AMS President and interim VP Finance Eshana Bhangu said the pandemic and its effects on the student society’s businesses was the primary factor that impacted this year’s budget.

“Pre-Covid, the AMS businesses were contributing over $1 million to the operating budget so there has been a dramatic change on that front,” Bhangu said.

How will the AMS address its $1.25 million deficit?

How the AMS plans to address this year’s $1.25 million deficit — an $455,000 increase from last year — remains largely unclear.

Ahead of the vote on the final budget at AMS Council, Bhangu and Managing Director Keith Hester said the AMS would need to consider increasing its general fee instead of relying on revenues from businesses in the Nest to address the deficit.

Bhangu also said she would work with then-VP Finance Rita Jin to write a report detailing the AMS’s plans to address the deficit.

In her August statement, Bhangu said the report would be presented to Council by the fall, but did not provide details on what would be included in that report.

Bhangu said that any fee increase or restructure would include stakeholder consultations and get approval from the student body via referndum.

The Ubyssey did not hear back to its request for additional comment about the source of the deficit before print time.

How is student money being spent?

The AMS is mostly spending money to support student services and pay for overhead costs — administration, human resources and information systems.

Of the almost $1.6 million in student services expenses — a $400,000 increase from last year’s budget — a significant proportion will be allocated to the AMS Food Bank, Safewalk and the Sexual Assault Support Centre (SASC) in comparison to last year, while expenses towards the AMS Peer Support program will be cut by $10,000.

“We want to ensure we’re contributing to helping reduce food insecurity, increasing campus safety, and providing support for survivors,” Bhangu wrote.

Spending for the Food Bank is up $25,000 this year to offset less support from UBC this year, spending for the SASC is up $270,00 due to the increase in its student fee approved during AMS elections last March and Safewalk spending is up $50,000.

Overhead costs account for nearly $1.9 million in expenses, an overall increase of $200,000 and a $100,000 increase in admin costs. Expenditures on AMS Events is $417,800, an increase from last year’s allocation of $370,000.

A further estimated $777,604 will go to the AMS’s student execs and $375,714 will go to AMS Council, marking a $10,000 and $120,000 increase from last year respectively. Almost $419,000 will also go towards ancillary services — communications, a policy advisor and archives — over $13,500 more than last year.

The AMS did not respond before press time when asked why it was increasing spending this year in all areas as it projects an over $1 million deficit.

Total expenditures are set to accumulate to $5.45 million by the end of this fiscal year.

— With files from Nathan Bawaan