DSU revising budget to deal with deficit

Investment revenue misses financial predictions


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"Obviously we don't want to be losing students' money" - Bond

The Dalhousie Student Union budget for the year ending March 31, 2021 includes a $45,681 deficit. The loss comes mostly from a fall in the value of the union's investments tied to declines in securities markets.

The fall in the value of investments leaves the DSU short of its $2.3 million dollar expenses budget.

The DSU recorded an increase of about $51,000 in the value of its investments in the year ending March 31 2008. Since that, time the DSU has seen the value of its investments fall by about 16 per cent from $802,483 to $675,453.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index fell by about 35 per cent in the same period.

The DSU's investment portfolio is made up of about 40 per cent guaranteed investments and 60 per cent stocks and other securities, says Doyle Bond, DSU vice-president of finance and operations.

Holdings of guaranteed investments provide a cushion against a market downturn like was seen through 2008.

"We are discouraged from playing the market," says Bond. "Because obviously we don't want to be losing students' money."

Records of performance of the union's investment portfolio since March 2009 are unavailable but Bond says they are on the uptick.

"The goal of the union every year is to break even and we're on track for that right now," says Bond.

"We are currently in budget revisions."

Each year the outgoing DSU vice-president of finance and operations prepares budget predictions based on the previous year's actual revenues and expenses.

Last year's vice-president of finance and operations, Matt Golding, predicted a budget surplus of $59,260. In March 2009 when an independent auditor prepared the DSU balance sheet the union was facing a $45,681 deficit.

Part of Bond's job in November will be revising the 2009-2010 budget to reflect the actual revenues and expenses of the DSU.

Those revisions are submitted to council on Dec. 2 and will be available to media to following day.

Bond says at this stage it is too early to say if the DSU is looking at cutting spending or anticipating additional revenue to balance the budget but he did say revenues from student orientation this year were higher than expected.

The DSU generates revenue by selling orientation packages to first-year students including T-shirts and tickets for admission to frosh week events. Additional revenue is generated from outside sponsorship of frosh week.

This year the DSU sold about 1,500 packages, beating estimates of about 1,200.

"We actually sold out," says Bond.

"But of course, with the economy, companies are also advertising less and that affects sponsorship."



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