Friday, November 14, 2014

UNA Budget Consultation Process: a cutback budget

Please take note that the UNA Budget process consultation is about to begin.  

This year, due to the way the UBC Service Levy is set up, there is an anticipated decrease in UNA funding.  For reference, the service levy is calculated from the difference between the BC Rural Property Tax mill rate and the City of Vancouver residential property tax mill rate.   Thus the UNA has no control over our annual funding levels. There is a special fund called the rate stabilization fund that the UNA can draw from to cover drops in the service levy.  The UNA Board has agreed to take up to 300,000 to cover part of the rate disparity.  
At the same time the board has prepared and will be presenting a budget for public consultation in which cuts have been suggested across many line items.  One of particular interest to the community includes a reduction of community centre operating hours at the old barn which would lead to reduced hours of operation starting summer 2015 (so, instead of opening at 7am, the Old Barn would open at 8:30; plus closing early on weekend evenings and stat holidays).  The suggestion is that with the new community centre coming on stream in the summer of 2015 services at the old barn can be replaced with services at the new community centre.  

It would seem that since the projection is for a one time drop in service levies and that the extra costs for 2015 are one time costs associated with opening the new community centre,  an argument could be made to maintain operational hours at the Old Barn Community Centre over the period of concern.  It may well be that the problem is short lived and that after a review of real costs in 2015 we will have no real need to cut hours. 

The cuts to community centre hours of operation to save about $30,000.  However, the real big ticket items in the 100s of thousands of dollars that we have involve landscaping (at a level far higher than truly necessary or environmentally sustainable) and access fee payments  (UBC Athletics, the Museum of Anthropology, the Botanical Gardens, etc).  

The staff and finance committee have worked hard to find a balance of cuts and preservation approaches.  With community feedback perhaps we can find creative and relevant solutions to the current budgetary issues.  For example, do we need to have the lawns cut so frequently and often?  Are the watering regimes in play a reasonable expense?  Are the fees we pay to UBC Athletics reasonable?  What costs in the new community centre can be deferred one, two, or three years until the service levy catches up?

One solution that I offer as a director is it is time that we stopped using high priced consultants to do all manner of things for us – like the study on comparing us to a municipality.  I voted for that, but in retrospect it was not a wise use of UNA funds.  Or our current communications consultant is equal to the cuts in Old Barn hours of operation, but what will it ultimately show us that we couldn't have figured out by ourselves at far less expense? We are planning to spend (an item previous approved sometime ago) tens of thousands of dollars on a community survey, much of which info could be garnered from census data. But this is just my opinion.  I look forward to hearing the opinions, perspectives, and ideas of all UNA members.  It is especially important to have feedback from those of us who use the services that are on the cutting block.

UNA Online Budget Consultation

2015/16 UNA Operating Budge

The UNA Board of Directors invites you to review the UNA Operating Budget for fiscal year 2015-2016 (April 1, 2015 - March 31, 2016).  The budget documents will be available online Nov. 14, 2014.  Please send your comments and feedback by 4:30 pm on November 26, 2014 by email.

1 comment:

Charles Menzies said...

I was just looking over the now posted UNA draft budget. I note that Directors' stipends is listed at about $32,000. That is about the same amount of money that is being saved by cutting operating hours at the Old Barn and reducing the hours of the Old Barn operations.

I would happily forego my Director's stipend for the budget year 2015-16 if this will make a difference!

Being a Director does take time, but it is also a civicly oriented volunteer activity. Why not forego the stipend when a greater good can be served?