By Antoine Germain
On October 15, 2019, during the 34th AUCSA Budget General Assembly, participants were informed of a discrepancy of “thousands of euros” between The AUCSA’s projected balance and the balance on August 1. Explanation as to why this occurred still has to be provided.
After the debut of the GA and the introduction of the new Audit Commission for this year, it was time for the past board of the AUCSA to introduce its members and present the Annual Financial Report for the period 2018-2019. Siem Teusink, Advisory Council member and a past member of the AUCSA board, was tasked with those two things.
Having extended customary greetings, he delved into the subject at hand and revealed to the audience that there “is still a discrepancy between the projected balance and the balance of August 1” of the AUCSA budget. When asked by Bart Knibbe, Co-Chair of the AUC Student Council, if he could specify how much of a discrepancy there was, Teusink simply responded “Thousands of euros”.
Teusink explained that the Annual Financial Report has to be presented within six months of August 1 but he was unable to find out why, and how, the discrepancy occurred before the AUCSA October Budget GA. He also reassured the crowd that the budget to be discussed in the following hours was based on the current balance and was therefore realistic, meaning its validity is not in question.
“I really wish I could have found out what has happened before today”, he stated, adding “my apologies for not being able to present the full Annual Report today”.
Teusink also promised he would work closely with the Audit Commission in order to shed light on this mystery, after having said that the discrepancy was in no way the fault of the Audit Commission.
When asked what the strategy to uncover the reason behind the discrepancy was, Teusink said “The strategy is simple and tedious: looking through transactions that are in the system, checking if any are mislabeled […] checking if all the pin transaction are properly accounted for, etc.”.
He added “We are currently considering releasing an update with information about the situation and about some of the misinterpretations at the GA.”
The former AUCSA board has a sizeable amount of work on its hands before it can present the public with an answer to the problem.
Additional budgetary troubles
At 14:08 an hour long discussion began regarding the budget of Solace, the party and events committee at AUC.
There were two main points of contention during the debate. One was related to a motion calling for an increase in the costs allocated to a photo-booth, a motion which didn’t pass, while the other concerned a cut made by the committee’s ticket vendor Eventbrite which amounted in a reduction of 0.6 euros of income per ticket sold. The issue for the second one rested in the fact that the cut was accounted for in the “income” section of the committee’s budget but was entirely missing from the “costs” part of it.
In response to this, Igor Bobic, member of the Audit Commission, pointed out that “This is a very odd way of maneuvering around the budget” and urged for the cut to be included in the costs section.
The lengthy debate at the GA highlights the increased difficulty for Solace to justify and obtain additional costs from The AUCSA and the GA. Indeed, Solace is one of the biggest AUCSA spenders and has been consistently budgeting a deficit in the past years.
This was confirmed by Julien Vandermosten, AUCSA treasurer, who said “Solace across the years has always made a loss and we’ve tried to reduce that loss”.
The committee’s expenditures has seen a dramatic increase in the period 2016-2017, a period where overspending skyrocketed in many committees. Still, Solace recorded an astoundingly high deficit that year, losing as much as 6,000 euros. Outside of AUCSA related costs, Solace was the third biggest spender at AUC that year.
Since then, The AUCSA has expended a lot of effort to clean up the finances of the organisation and improve its financial health. The new AUCSA board of 2017-2018 started its work with a deficit of 37,000 euros and a gargantuan task up ahead. The successive board managed to continue in its predecessor’s footsteps, bringing the Association back to healthy bounds. Indeed, Julien Vandermosten explained that there was an overall 2,000 euro surplus in the budget. “something we are very happy about,” he added.
Despite this success, Solace is still one of the biggest AUCSA spenders and it is far from breaking even, without considering potential profit. While the deficit budgeted on Tuesday was much lower than the one two years ago (-2585 euros), a sixth of the liabilities in the AUCSA budget is attributed to Solace. Out of the 18,000 reported, 3,000 euros have been allocated to “Bar guarantee Solace”.
Compared to committees like AUCafe, who was the biggest spender and ran a deficit in 2016-2017 but budgeted this year a net profit of more than 2,000 euros, Solace still has a long way to go before being able to contribute to a financially healthy AUCSA.
Factual Corrections: Eventbrite was initially referred to as a ‘partner’ but has been corrected to ‘ticket vendor’. Clarification, “current balance” has been changed to “balance of August 1”.