Between the Motions: AMS Council finds $128,000 budget error, narrowly approves $26,000 for sustainability centre

We went to AMS Council so you didn’t have to.

Last night, councillors shone light on a budget mistake and nearly rejected funding the Interactive Sustainability Centre.

Here’s what you need to know.

AMS makes $128,000 budget error in January reforecast

Council’s newest member, science Councillor Ray Hua, spotted a $128,000 error in the AMS budget.

In VP Finance Lucia Liang’s January budget reforecast, Hua noticed that the Sustainable Food Access Fee, Indigenous Student Fund and the Get Thrifty fee appeared twice in the non-discretionary allocation section.

This means that the total amount of non-discretionary fees was overstated by $128,033.40.

As non-discretionary fees, the AMS has no say over how these funds are budgeted because their uses were set by things like referenda.

VP Finance Lucia Liang was presenting budget changes after projecting a $679,000 decrease in business revenue. The AMS currently has a $666,000 deficit, compared to $720,000 from budget materials at the end of last year.

When Hua brought up the discrepancy, Liang admitted that it was an error.

“Yes, I think that is a small — that’s a mistake,” she said.

“I wouldn’t call that ‘small,’” said Hua. “That’s $120,000.”

Council narrowly approves funding for $26,000 sustainability centre

Funding for the $26,000 Interactive Sustainability Centre narrowly avoided defeat — passing by only one vote.

The vote for funding was pushed from last meeting after councillors felt their concerns still hadn’t been addressed. At that meeting, VP Administration Sylvester Mensah Jr wasn’t there to answer their questions and had sent a staffer instead.

This time, councillors continued to press Mensah on the centre, with many concerned the space would not be useful for students.

Economics rep Ryan Wong and Allard rep Sebastian Cooper, in particular, raised concerns that because the space is too small to hold events, the money could be better spent on a bigger space.

Mensah countered that the space would help groups plan events and raise awareness of sustainability as students walked by.

After back and forth, Mensah said he was open to amendments after further concerns about the centre were raised.

Mensah and two staffers defended the project from criticism as tensions rose.

Some councillors tried to push the vote back again so Mensah could come back with a better plan, but the vote happened regardless.

Mensah told The Ubyssey earlier in February that he expects the centre to be open by this September.

This article was updated to reflect that Wong is an economics representative, not arts.