What does your job entail?
I oversee club budgets, the general CSU budget and the health plan. There are club requisitions.My controller deals with actually getting the pay cheques and making sure it gets delivered. I oversee the audit: making sure that it’s in progress and that we’re going to meet deadline.
Do you think that your Finance program has given you enough experience for the job?
I guess, but it’s [also] the way I was raised. I’ve always been very conscious and very good at trying to stay within budgets and help other people stay within budgets.
How do you feel overseeing $1.6 million?
It’s a huge responsibility. You want to do the best you can for the students. It’s hard to please the masses, and it is a very sensitive situation because it is finances. Sometimes you feel like you spend half your time reporting, and half your time doing your job and then try to make up another 100 per cent to do the paperwork.
How did you come up with this year’s budget?
The first budget that you make is in June – seven days into office. You base a lot of it on the previous year. Come November you have a better idea of what the year looks like and you know where you have to allocate funds. Our legal fees were a lot more than we expected in June so we had to adjust for that. And we have six active exec[utives] when we bugeted for eight. So we re-allocate those funds.
Why wasn’t this year’s budget approved at the November council meeting?
As far as I know, it was prepared. I think the meeting was just getting really late and . . . well, council decided to adjourn. And it got postponed to the December meeting. They felt that the budget is a big issue and it’s not just something that you want to look at with tired eyes.
How often are club budgets sent back for review?
Angelica mentioned maybe only a couple of times. It wasn’t a big issue I guess this year.
Do you get a lot of questionable requisitions?
It happens every now and then. Within a batch of requisitions, there’s usually something you have to call on. If it wasn’t aligned with the plan at the beginning of the year, was it just a spontaneous expense?
I don’t think I’ve refused a requisition in its entirety [although] there might be things [that] I’ll say ‘no’ to. If there’s no receipt it’s hard for me to put it through unless they have some other way of verifying that it happened. Generally I’ll request them to go get a receipt. Before I [refuse] I will give a club a few shots to explain what’s going on. Clubs have been very good, and I think the reason is that we sent out a very clear manual at the beginning of the year.
Moving onto the special projects fund: how do you decide which clubs warrant funding?
There are two different special projects funds, and I chair the financial committee [which] deals with special projects from non-CSU clubs. You look at how many Concordia students are involved in the project, how many students are going to benefit and how [the school] is going to benefit from the project. You’re also going to try to give as many groups as possible the benefit of the fund. There’s only $20,000 at the moment. You’re trying to give everyone a fair cut, especially those who have completed their proposals. Another criteria is if you’ve been looking for other sources of funding.
Could you tell me how many projects apply and how many actually get funding?
Well out of 14 total, nine were passed, three were tabled pending more information and two were rejected. But even then, they can come back and re-present. Also this was just the first round (first semester) so you want to save at least 50 per cent of the funds for the winter semester.
Regarding the $100 ancillary fee passed at the beginning of this year, did that get approved by the VP Finance?
No. That wasn’t during our term. It was definitely passed last year though. You’d be best to ask someone else.
Do you work with CUSA Corp?
No. But after being here some time, I think maybe it would be an idea to incorporate the VP finance and the President of the CSU to CUSA Corp. Not necessarily as voting members, but just an integration. But that’s just an idea.
Money was lost at Orientation because the McKay street festival didn’t happen. Did you make up for those losses?
That’s not completely clear yet. We had to pay for the things that were planned for those days despite the event. Some suppliers were generous enough to forego considering the event. Some could not because they had already committeed their own finances into it. So we had to compensate all of that. By the end of the year it’ll be a lot clearer. Considering, I don’t think we did too badly. Our sales were still pretty OK. There definitely were losses. We’re trying to use other events to compensate.
We’ve had a couple of Hive events, parties. Basically, [at an event] we normally would have sales at an event and would put that towards balancing out the cost of putting on that event, but instead we’re just considering that event as just an event in student life so we don’t budget to make any money and we put the funds, maybe a couple of hundred dollars, towards Orientation as sales to compensate for those two days. They were supposed to be two large days.
Do you know if last year’s books are over or under?
No. They’re still in the process. They started [auditing in] December.
What do you think of the possibility of having accounting students audit student-run organization’s books?
That’s definitely an interesting project. It depends what they would be auditing for. You can do an audit asking clubs for payments and reciepts, or an overall audit for accountability. I guess if would be good for student-run organizations to have that kind of accountability. It definitely keeps me on my toes to have someone looking into that.
What advice would you give to the next VP Finance?
Know what resources are available to you. This year we didn’t have a researcher archivist. I would maybe figure out a way to delegate certain tasks, and making use of different employees. Know what your controller, your book-keeper can do for you. Instead of the requisitions coming straight to me, we could send them first to the clubs commissioner to make sure the receipts are added up. If it’s already got that stamp of approval, that gives me more time to have one-on-one with people. Fnd ways to get more involved in projects.