RSU posts $73,000 budget deficit

The students’ union has revealed it is dealing with a $73,233 deficit in its budget from last year, attributing the loss to an increase in student services as well as maternity and paternity leave benefits.

At the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) semi-annual general meeting last Wednesday, the executive brought forward the union’s audited financial statements but did not discuss the deficit.

The deficit information was available in the package provided to students who attended the meeting., although none of the students at the meeting asked about it.

The deficit was due to “increase of services, campaigns and programming for our membership,” the meeting package states.

“This deficit was also generated as we had two of our staff in paternity and maternity leaves and subsequently had to hire interim staff to fill those positions.”

Gordon Lee, a partner at Yale and Partners LLP who works on the RSU’s audits, said that for a $15-million not-for-profit entity like the RSU, ups and downs are expected.

“Over the years you’re going to have surpluses and deficits based on a whole bunch of different things,” he said.

The RSU’s vice-president operations, Ifaz Iqbal, was not available to comment on specifics regarding the increased student services, campaigns or programming.

Here’s a breakdown of where the RSU’s expenditures increased in 2013 compared to those of 2012, according to the union’s audited statements:

Wages and benefits: this item in the audited statements increased to $1,382,833 in 2013 from $1,299,061 in 2012 — a jump of around $84,000. These figures represent all salaries and benefits, as well as any applicable expense accounts, received by RSU executives, part-time employees and full-time staff members.

Event programming: the RSU spent $295,356 on events in 2012. In 2013, it shelled out $53,000 more, bringing the total to $348,431.

Student services: the union’s costs for putting on student services went up by around $50,000, increasing to $238,586 in 2013 from $188,695 in 2012.

Office and general: this item in the audited statements jumped to $206,046 in 2013 from $173,414 in 2012.
Office and general expenses could refer to anything from costs for the RSU’s main desk to computers and telephones for its offices. (The RSU allocated $20,000 for “telephones” in its 2012-13 budget.)

Professional fees: these figures include any costs for legal, tax or accounting services. The RSU’s costs for professional fees increased to $103,303 in 2013 from $94,681 in 2012.
According to the RSU’s 2012-2013 budget, $75,000 was set aside for legal fees and $15,000 was allocated for audit fees. Bad debts also rose to $5,415 in 2013 from $532 in 2012.

This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on November 20, 2013.

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