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UTMSU reviews loss of revenue from COVID-19 at September Board of Directors Meeting

Budgeting for union services, Student Centre, Blind Duck Pub discussed
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The UTMSU held its September Board meeting, discussing budgets. HAYDEN MAK/THE VARSITY
The UTMSU held its September Board meeting, discussing budgets. HAYDEN MAK/THE VARSITY

The University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) held its sixth Board of Directors Meeting over Zoom on October 2.

Members discussed events ranging from the start of the school year, to plans for the upcoming academic terms, and budgets, which were negatively impacted in many instances by COVID-19. The meeting began with reports from members of the executive team on what they have done so far in their terms, as well as their upcoming plans.

Executive reports

The executives shared their reflections on the UTMSU orientation. Fahad Dayala, Vice-President Internal, reflected on the UTMSU’s first fully virtual orientation, Cosmos ‘20. “We had that personal connection, and we had that time with our first-year students to interact and have conversations on a one to one basis.”

The UTMSU originally planned to offer an in-person orientation option, however, it was informed by the university shortly beforehand that it could no longer take place due to COVID-19.

Anushka Sokhi, Vice-President University Affairs, noted that it was “great to see” that students were interested in coming back as volunteers after attending orientation. In their reports, members also spoke about upcoming plans that are still in the works, such as conversations surrounding campus parking fees and food service hours, as well as some Halloween-themed events in the near future.

Blind Duck operating budget

The bulk of the meeting consisted of discussions surrounding budgets, beginning with the Blind Duck Operating Budget for the 2020–2021 fiscal year. The Blind Duck Pub is the restaurant the UTMSU has inside the Student Centre.

Dayala highlighted how there has been a significant drop in sales revenues, noting that this was “solely because of the COVID-19 pandemic.” In anticipation that COVID-19 will continue to impact operations at the pub, the UTMSU has reduced its expected sales from an estimated $326,000 to $274,000.

As Dayala reported, while the Blind Duck Levy remains similar, there was a significant drop in the advertising revenue due to reduced traffic, and decreased interest in advertising from external companies. “Those companies are facing financial issues currently, as well,” added Dayala. Overall, the total sales revenue came to $305,000, which he said is a drop of roughly “35 per cent from what we anticipated in the preliminary budget.”

UTMSU operating budget

Dayala moved on to discuss the UTMSU operating budget for the 2020–2021 year. The membership fee and Health and Dental plan remain similar to previous years. Dayala also noted that salaries of U-Pass distributors have been increased, “due to the extended period of U-Pass distributions.”

A significant loss of revenue came from unused lockers, which are not being issued due to sanitation concerns surrounding COVID-19. Student bookings and advertisements have also led to significant drops, as Dayala said that the UTMSU will “not [be] having any in-person events, at least for this semester.” In total, the revenue for this budget was $219,000, which is lower than the previous budget that was approved. Dayala also attributed this decrease to COVID-19.

Conversely, there has been an increase in expenses relating to major events under this budget, such as orientation. Dayala highlighted the fact that this year’s orientation was a free event, which amounted to a loss in revenue. A lack in sponsorships also contributed to this loss. Dayala noted that “because of the pandemic, a lot of organizations weren’t interested in partnering because they themselves had faced a lot of financial difficulties.”

Fixed costs, such as bank fees and insurance costs, remain similar, with total administrative costs coming to $442,000. The UTMSU is also considering costs surrounding its website, which includes repairs and maintenance costs, and an upcoming campus portal, which it anticipates will cost roughly $15,000 altogether. In regard to income, the UTMSU is expecting an estimated $120,000 for its budget this year.

Student Centre operating budget

The board also discussed the operating budget for the Student Centre, which has a total revenue of $420,000. The UTMSU is expecting a total net income of $100,600; however, it is not expecting any revenue from Canada’s Wonderland ticket sales as it usually would due to closures surrounding the pandemic. It is also anticipating “a total net loss of $86,000 from the infobooth,” due largely to the loss of revenue from the ticket sales.

Regarding the Duck Stop, a UTMSU-owned convenience store, which is operating under capacity and is no longer open on weekends, the UTMSU is anticipating a net loss of $8,000, which Dayala highlighted is still less than what was anticipated in the preliminary budget.