By: Drew May
The audited financial statements of the Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA) revealed a $653,002 surplus for the 2015-16 year.
The statement was presented to CUSA council at the Jan. 10 meeting, and shows the state of the association’s finances from April 30, 2016. Also discussed was the withholding of $400,000 in Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) fees by CUSA over allegations of poor financial transparency.
“Overall, we’re in a healthier financial position than we were before,” said David Andrews, CUSA vice-president (finance).
Andrews said the surplus is due to a number of factors, including not making any large purchases last year and the money CUSA received from settling their lawsuits with the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA). CUSA received money from settling both the Unicentre fee lawsuit and the health plan lawsuit that were previously ongoing with the GSA.
CUSA president Fahd Alhattab also attributed the surplus to cuts in executive spending and better numbers from CUSA-run businesses. While Oliver’s Pub has lost money in the past, Andrews said Rooster’s is doing well.
“We used to do a lot of everything and we’re trying to cut that down to do quality of some things, and understanding what value we truly create for students,” he said.
This is the second year CUSA’s financial statements have shows a surplus. In the 2014-15 year they had a surplus of $146,157.
“I think it is important to note that these surpluses should only be run in times where you’re covering past deficits,” Alhattab said. “You also want to spend the money on the students.”
“We’ve had a few years of deficts and we have to cover that, the deficit doesn’t just disappear,” he said.
Andrews said the surpluses have allowed the association to pay back around $700,000 in deficits from previous years.
The audit shows an increase in business expenses, according to Andrews. Operating expenses of businesses in 2015 were $610,822, and $700,223 in 2016. He said CUSA businesses have had to spend more on inventory so they can sell more to make a higher profit.
CUSA also withheld fees to the CFS in 2016 because the federation did not properly disclose its finances, Andrews said. CUSA normally pays the CFS around $400,000 per year, which is collected from students in fees.
Two years of CFS audits were released at the annual general meeting in November, but Alhattab says they are doing an “investigation” into the audits and will decide later whether or not to release the fees.
“It would be utterly irresponsible of myself and my team to release $400,000 to an organization that wasn’t willing to release their audit,” he said.
Alhattab said more research has to be done before a decision can be made and the decision may go to CUSA council.
There will be another CUSA meeting at 6 p.m. on Jan. 16, where seat allocation reform will be voted on. The proposal suggests eliminating one seat from council and reallocating the number of seats given to each academc department.
Seats that were previously debated for elimination are journalism and public affairs and policy management. They currently each have one seat on council.