Increased financial transparency, a bylaw amendment and the USC’s third quarter financial standing were on the agenda as the 2017-18 board of directors met for the first time on April 7.
Here is everything you need to know.
Board chair compensation
A bylaw 1 revision was introduced by secretary-treasurer Isaac Jacobi to include compensation for the chair of the board who currently does not receive any remuneration for their work.
A former chair himself, Jacobi emphasized the heavy workload that comes with the role, often requiring several hours of work each week.
He drew a comparison to the speaker of the USC council who is financially compensated for their work and said the board chair often puts in more work but receives no compensation.
The revision led to some discussion at the table. Directors considered the implications and possible conflict of creating a compensatory relationship between the USC and its board chair — someone who is tasked with the fiduciary oversight of the organization.
Jacobi said compensating the board chair is “not unheard of” and there are other student unions who do so.
Director Alif Karmali who has also served as speaker of council spoke in favour of compensating the chair in light of their workload, especially in comparison to the speaker.
After discussion, the board approved the amendment. However, since this is a bylaw amendment, it will also need council approval. Council can either choose to approve the amendment or revert the bylaw to its original reading after discussing it at their meeting.
The compensation package for the chair will be drafted if and after council approves the amendment.
Third quarter financial (Q3) standing
The USC’s third quarter financials were presented to the board by managing director Carrie Passi-Ferguson.
Directors raised questions about the performance of Creative Services and the Purple Store – both services running behind budget expectations. Creative Services is $40,000 behind expectations while the Purple Store is behind by $16,000. Clothing sales at the Purple Store are $37,000 behind budget expectations.
Creative Services has faced a steep decline in sales with increased competition around campus including with library printers. Passi-Ferguson said Creative Services has been trying to actively reach out to its regular customers like professors but faces challenges such as competition from Western’s services.
For the Purple Store, Armour and Passi-Ferguson highlighted competition from the Western Bookstore, the 2016 Summer Academic Orientation (SAO) tours around the UCC only being restricted to certain times and lack of sales on St. Patrick’s Day as some of the factors behind the low revenues.
Overall the USC is $42,000 ahead of budget expectations and Passi-Ferguson said the organization is in a “healthy cash position.”
After the Q3 presentation, Passi-Ferguson also presented the USC’s monthly cash flow report and an update on the reserve fund, more on which can be found here.
Increased financial transparency
Jacobi introduced two new policies aimed at increasing financial transparency within the USC.
The financial approvals policy will place spending limits on USC executive and management and outline mechanisms required for approving spending over certain thresholds.
For purchases over $25,000 within the approved USC operating and operating budget, board approval will be required. This includes any executive spending approved or encouraged by the USC council.
For any executive spending over $4,999 outside the approved budget, approval from council will be required. Management spending over $24,999 outside the approved budget will require board approval.
The highlight of the financial reporting policy is that the USC council will now receive the organization’s audited statements once they’ve been approved by the board. While the audited statements are usually made public after being approved by the board, the extra layer aims to ensure that audited statements are made available to council as soon as possible.
As part of the reporting policy, the board will also receive quarterly financial reports which “shall highlight any student fee, transfer out, business unit, or department that has under-performed, or exceeded budget expectations by the lesser of $30,000 or five per cent.”
Both policies were passed unanimously.
Gazette print review, incoming secretary-treasurer and reports
The incoming secretary-treasurer Erin McCauley was ratified by the board unanimously.
USC president Eddy Avila presented the 2017 strategic plan to the board. Chief Operating Officer Jeff Armour presented his report where he also updated the board on the upcoming Spoke renovations in the summer.
The board also considered council’s request to task the Gazette Publications Committee with conducting a print review of the publication. The board chose to turn down the request in light of a recent print review and budgetary report presented by the Gazette.
After the public session of the meeting, the board went in-camera to discuss legal and human resources matters, according to the confidential agenda.
Editor’s Note: Short-staffed due to final exams, I was covering the board meeting in the capacity of a news reporter. For the Gazette print discussion, I was given speaking rights at the meeting to talk about the feasibility of a print review in my role as editor-in-chief. I explained the findings of the Gazette’s recent budgetary report presented to council and spoke against another review.
The financial oversight policies, Q3 narrative, bylaw 1 amendment and the 2017 strategic plan are attached below.