WLUSP deficit down to $20,430

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A budgeting error discovered over the summer resulted in Wilfrid Laurier University Student Publications (WLUSP) having to seriously re-evaluate its finances.

WLUSP had an interim budget presented by May 1 before their fiscal year started. Having evaluated their revenue from the previous year, they factored in student fees from the Waterloo and Brantford campus that help fund student publications. However, Brantford’s student fees were accidentally inputted into the budget twice, causing a miscalculation.

“So, when we looked at WLUSP central with accounts from both [campus’] student fees, we didn’t realize that we hadn’t subtracted the proper amount from Brantford,” Bryn Ossington, the executive director at WLUSP, explained. “That’s about $40, 000 over-budgeted revenue.”

This budgeting error meant that the budget deficit was highly underestimated, with calculations placing it at just under $50,000. In reality, the deficit was over $80,000.

“It’s not representative of bad management or a huge mistake,” added Ossington. “We know there was an error that caused a last-minute panic.”

Through budget cuts to its various departments, WLUSP has managed to reduce the deficit to about $20,430. Ossington explained that the initial budget was conditional, however.

“They passed that deficit saying we had the first period [of our cycle] to find out how we are going to fix that,” he said.

The departments of WLUSP — The Cord, The Sputnik, Blueprint Magazine, Cord Community Edition,  The Keystone, Radio Laurier, as well as others — experienced cut backs in order to alleviate this budgetary issue.

“No one wants to be on the board that makes cuts,” said Allison Leonard, president and chair of the board at WLUSP. “But there were some long-term changes that were made that will ensure sustainability for future years.”

Of those changes, the most notable are to The Cord Community Edition, which could be dissolved in January if donation and advertising revenues don’t meet the costs.

“If advertising or donation revenue could meet or exceed what it would cost to run The CCE then it will exist in [the new year],” said Leonard.

Other notable cutbacks will be seen in Blueprint Magazine, which will no longer have a gloss cover and has lost budgeted travel expenses for media coverage.

“[Also] most of our staff haven’t taken the salary increases that they were scheduled for,” Leonard said. “We made general cuts across the board.”

The Cord and The Sputnik will not be seeing any significant changes.

Leonard assured that publications will still have the same amount of pages and department heads will still receive honorariums.

Expenses for events, fundraisers and volunteer appreciation will also remain.

However, both Leonard and Ossington emphasized that a large deficit doesn’t necessarily mean that the organization is at risk of collapsing.

“We’re not in crisis,” Ossington said. “Belt tightening is a natural thing.”

Leonard, despite the cutbacks and structural changes, wants to maintain WLUSP’s mission of becoming a “premiere student media organization.”

“We’re trying to uphold that and make sure we are delivering that student experience while making immense financial cuts,” she added.

She explained that the student experience of WLUSP publications and their volunteers will not feel the wave of these budgetary changes.

“By no means are we cutting student publications,” Leonard promised. “We are just cutting the expenses.”

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