These are the last two referenda that need to be covered for this year’s elections. They’ll be covered together because they are relatively straightforward so there is not a whole lot to say.

Indexing AMS Fees to CPI

By not having their fees indexed, the AMS is losing money year over year as the value of the fees they collect in real dollars decreases. This referendum is meant to fix that problem so that the AMS fees become more financially sustainable.

However, this referendum is extremely flawed and council failed to do its due diligence in putting this on the ballot. It represents a major failure in AMS governance. The two major flaws:

1) By blindly indexing all AMS fees, it assumes that all of those fees are currently at an appropriate level. For example, the AMS Services fee is currently $9.00. Of the 10 services, 30% of the services budget goes to just one service, Safewalk. At $70 per walk, it’s clear that the funding being put into Safewalk is not being used efficiently. Is it really appropriate to be putting more funding into what is already an over-funded service?

Before asking for more money, the AMS should have done their due diligence and taken a good long look at the fees they currently charge to determine whether the fees are being used efficiently, and whether they are still fulfilling the purpose they were intended for when they were created. None of the financial staff within the AMS were asked about this proposal. The fact that council proposed fee increases without actually doing the math is appalling.

2) Pass-through fees have been included. The $21 Athletics and Intramural fee is collected by the AMS and entirely passed on to UBC Athletics. It’s a similar situation with the $1 SLFS fee. Because the proceeds from this fee do not go to the AMS, the argument that the AMS will be losing money if this fee is not indexed is invalid. After successfully working with Athletics to get the university athletics fee frozen this year, it’s counter-productive for the AMS to then turn around and propose increasing their own athletics fee.

UBC Athletics was unaware that indexing the $21 AMS fee was being proposed. Once again, fee increases are being proposed without consulting those involved and without any sort of due diligence.

Engagement Levy

The engagement levy is an interesting concept, but ultimately very flawed. The original plan was for the fee to be refunded either by voting or through the regular round of September opt-outs. The revised plan that it can only be refunded through voting makes a bad idea marginally worse.

The Ubyssey’s editorial about it pretty much says all that needs saying on the proposal. One more thing that needs to be added is that it assumes that the entire burden of engaging students falls on the AMS and media, but not on the candidates themselves.

The fact that no one except the authour of the plan has come out in support of it should be indicative of the quality of the plan.


3 Comments so far

  1. Alex Lougheed on January 24, 2010 5:36 pm

    The Grad Class Council would like to be consulted when you try to raise our fees. :(

  2. Jay on January 24, 2010 5:43 pm

    I really dont mind paying 2$ OR $0.02….

  3. Natalie Swift on January 25, 2010 9:51 am

    Thanks for this. Although linking to CPI is a logic thing to do, I agree that due diligence is necessary.

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