By Adrian Morrow
Associate News Editor
The Ryerson Students’ Union is facing a deficit this year, spurred by a $70,000 debt to the provincial government.
The RSU owes the money because the union didn’t realize it was supposed to pay PST on services provided by CopyRite or on sales of movie tickets and t-shirts in the Member Services office. Chris Drew, the RSU’s VP Finance and Services, says the union will put the money into the budget this year to avoid saddling next year’s union with a debt.
“It looks like we’re going to have a deficit either way,” said Toby Whitfield, RSU’s VP Finance- elect. “I hope it’s as small as possible.”
Drew and Mike Verticchio, the RSU’s executive director of operations, uncovered the problem a little more than a year ago when they decided to fully review the union’s finances.
“For whatever reason, previous management decided not to [charge PST],” Verticchio said. “It boggles my mind that it wasn’t reviewed.”
When the RSU found the problem, they alerted the government and voluntarily paid $40,000. The province audited the union and told them to pay a further $30,000.
However, the RSU also discovered they can get the province to reimburse them on other PST they’ve been paying on paper and other goods used in manufacturing. Drew said the reimbursement could be in the range of $30,000.
The return won’t likely come back until May, so it will be factored into next year’s budget. If the RSU incurs a deficit, it will have to be paid for using savings. The union has been socking money away since the start of last year into a contingency fund.
Next year, the RSU will probably take more time putting the budget together to avoid a deficit.
“We’ll spend longer on the budget than we did this year,” said Whitfield. “Maybe we need a more detailed plan [for keeping the budget on track].”
The union has the summer to review the budget, which will likely be approved at its meeting in August.
The RSU has already had several budget problems this year, caused by infighting in the students’ union, and some items are over budget.
The union has spent more than $20,000 on legal business, when it only budgeted $10,000 to $15,000. The overspending was caused in part by a surge in staff grievances, which jumped to 17 compared to one in the last two years, and a lawsuit from former RSU president Rebecca Rose, who received a $3,000 settlement from the union.