URSU audit reveals several issues

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Students’ union’s assets drop from $1,615,014 to $847,833

Though the audit was finalized Dec. 3, it was just discussed on Jan. 28. / Alec Salloum

Though the audit was finalized Dec. 3, it was just discussed on Jan. 28. / Alec Salloum

The University of Regina Students’ Union (URSU) received its audit at the Jan. 28 board meeting. The report highlighted some improvements, while also raising many concerns.

The audit was conducted by MNP, an independent accounting firm. The report states their, “responsibility, as auditor of the Students’ Union, is to report to the members on the fair presentation of the 2014 financial statements, in accordance with Canadian not-for profit organization accounting standards.” As of now the budget has not been approved by the board.

From May 1, 2011 to present, URSU has gone from having $1,615,014 to $847,833 in assets. From 2013 to 2014, URSU lost $176,094 in assets. Some of these assets lost include long-term investments.

URSU President Devon Peters said, “All of URSU’s long-term investments were cashed.”

He also noted that the loss to the organization is much higher than it appears. “Because URSU includes restricted funds contributions in its budget, a balanced budget would show up as a net positive for assets.” However, the audit reported a net loss, which means these funds did not contribute to assets, and assets actually dropped.

On a year-by-year basis, URSU operated with a deficit. In 2014, URSU ran a deficit of $204,025, whereas in 2013, it was $292,726.

Part time students director Billy Patterson said, “This is great to see. It’s nice to know that we are improving.”

URSU was able to improve its revenue from last year. This is thanks to the new fee system put in place this year. Student fee revenue increased from $2,230,040 to $2,473,262.

Revenue from the student bar the Owl fell, but was matched by a similar drop in the expenses of operating the Owl.

In the audit’s final report, a multitude of concerns were raised. Concerns included cash left out in the office, lack of actionable employee contracts, lack of documentation for certain expenses, and personal expenses charged to corporate credit cards. To address these concerns, the audit recommended implementing policies for employment, that credit cards “not be used [for] personal expenses” and to ensure all invoices are retained and filed.

A controversial $12,000 advance was made to a former staff member and was highlighted in the report as concerning. Kyle Addison, former URSU chair, stated in his letter of resignation that “the president, [Devon Peters], and vice-president of finance [Minsoo Cho] and operations” were “aware of this cheque since the summer months.” He goes on to say that he believes they “attempted to keep it from the board.”

The emergency meeting of Feb. 14 was called to address concerns around the cheque. VP external affairs Daniella Zemlak says she does not regret calling the meeting, stating she “had given the other executives ample opportunity to bring this to the board. I don’t apologize for stepping on those toes if it compromises my integrity or the integrity of the board.”

Zemlak said, “we are not holding our staff accountable.”

Addison echoed this concern in his letter of resignation noting that the audit was delivered on Dec. 8 and that “since that time, the only recommendation made by the president was to introduce policy to make the executive more accountable, rather than the necessary measures to make staff more accountable.”

It should be noted, that at the time of his resignation, only one board meeting had taken place since the audit was received.

 

Correction: Feb 8, 2015 7:06 a.m: An earlier version of this story’s tenth paragraph read “In the audit’s finding report…” whereas it should be, as it is now, “In the audit’s final report…” This was an error in editing. 

2 comments

  1. Devon Peters 8 February, 2015 at 20:35

    If you’re interested in learning about how this year is going (as compared to last year, which this audit represents) then come to the Board meeting this Wednesday at 6 in the URSU boardroom. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  2. AlumUR 9 February, 2015 at 19:56

    Is there any indication that criminal charges might be pursued against members of URSU for these financial irregularities?

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