It took two votes for the Arts and Science Federation of Associations’ councillors to approve the organization’s budget at last Thursday’s council meeting, and it only passed after members realized they would be devoid of funding without it.
The first vote split the member associations down the middle, resulting in a tie and an hour-long debate on the budget. Many representatives were angry that they were being asked to vote on ASFA’s budget without first finding out how much funding had been allocated to their member association. One councillor even described the situation as “having a gun held to our head.”
But VP finance Alexa Newman emphasized the chaos that could happen if each of the 27 individual budgets was scrutinized during council meetings.
“‘Deciding how much money can be given to each member association for their initiatives is a mandate that has been given to ASFA’s financial committee,” explained Newman, who preferred distributing the budgets to members the following day. “‘This year, it took three meetings for a total of 14 hours to make these decisions. Can you imagine doing this at council?”
As repeatedly stated by Newman, ASFA is at the mercy of its fee levy &- the $1.22 per credit charged to each student in arts and science which determines the federation’s budget. This year, 40 per cent ($105,000) was allocated to member association funding. The VP finance says that the associations generally request more money than ASFA can realistically offer.
“‘Some member associations requested over $25,000 &- which is more than ASFA’s social budget &- when these MAs represent 2.48 per cent of ASFA’s student population, which would entitle them to approximately $2,400,” she said.
Newman stressed that money is tight, mostly as a result of declining enrollment in arts and science. One alternative to giving MAs more money would be to increase the fee levy, something that ASFA’s executive is strongly against.
“‘Seeing as we are against raising tuition, we are also vehemently against raising the fee levy. It would just be hypocrisy if we started to increase it,” said ASFA’s president Aaron Green.
The president also reminded members that they are working on a much smaller rollover budget. The VP finance explained that generally the rollovers are between $40,000 to $55,000 – just enough to cover start-up costs. Many associations will be receiving smaller budgets than last year, as ASFA was benefiting from a massive rollover from 2008-2009. The signing officers during that fiscal year could not agree on expenditures, Newman said, and the majority of the budget essentially moved on to the following year. As a result, ASFA’s budget in 2009-2010 totalled in the area of $191, 000, which is $110, 000 more than this year’s budget.
She also told members that if they had not received the amount they had requested, there are other avenues of funding at Concordia, including ASFA’s special projects fund, which totals $31,500 this year. But as one council member pointed out, if all MAs start turning to the SPF, it will run dry fairly quickly.
Although Newman is firmly against presenting MA budgets at council, she says it remains a possibility that one day the budgets could be sent to the associations prior to ASFA’s regular meeting.