Nickels, dimes, and Meyers Norris Penny

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URSU takes a trip down annual audit lane

Minuteman
John Cameron
Editor-in-Chief

Audit in progress

Actually, the audit of the University of Regina Students’ Union’s 2010-11 fiscal year is complete, your correspondent just wanted to make a Hot Snakes reference (they are reuniting to play Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin this year and it is killing me, inside).

But hooray! The students’ union board and executive got to spend most of their Nov. 1 meeting listening to a representative from Meyers Norris Penny, the accounting firm that performs URSU’s annual audits, take them through page after page of financial documents. Tedious but necessary!

Unsurprisingly, the audit – which has to be accepted by the board and approved by the membership at URSU’s annual general meeting – showed nothing to prevent Meyers Norris Penny from declaring that the organization’s financial statements “present fairly in all respects,” as it has for the last several years.

The accounting firm did, however, send a letter outlining a couple of recommendations for the students’ union. Their biggest concern was URSU’s investments.

As of April 2011, the students’ union has $464,000 in short-term investments and $722,000 in long-term – meaning they’ve got almost $1.2 million in things like mutual funds and other equities.

The firm found it unusual that URSU would have that amount of money tied up in investments that have risk attached to them the way mutual funds do; while it wasn’t enough of a concern for it to have an impact on Meyers Norris Penny’s assessment of URSU’s financial statements, they did strongly advise URSU to come up with an internal policy outlining the risks the organization are willing to take when investing.

Which, apparently, they do have, according to women’s director Kaytlyn Barber and URSU general manager Mike Staines – it just isn’t in the copy of the policy manual currently available on URSU’s website.

The board will be voting on whether to approve the audited statements next meeting. As for us, if credit’s what matters, we’ll take credit (always go out on a Hot Snakes reference).

We’re all adults here

The latest in the long, long series of executive-vs.-board-member slapfights this year is between URSU president Kent Peterson and fine arts director Jordan Palmer. As we reported at the last meeting, the Fine Arts Student Association failed to show up for a meeting, thus waiving their right to funding from the President’s Advisory Council, and Palmer requested both that URSU restore funding to FASA and that the board “investigate” its own policies to determine who has the authority to revoke said funding.

At the Tuesday meeting, Peterson clarified that FASA had in fact missed a meeting to receive an advance cheque – a cheque which is, apparently, otherwise ready for them. Same with the cheque for the Arts Student Association, a representative from which also failed to make it to a PAC meeting.

When the latter came up, board chair Sean McEachern asked if the cheque for the ASA had been written; when that question was answered in the affirmative, he looked flummoxed.

“I’m not sure how we’re going to reinstate something that hasn’t been given out yet,” he told the board.

So there wound up being no motion on this, the thing that wasn’t a thing yet was enough of a thing that the board voted, in a public motion, to “investigate” their own policies. The cheques in question were advances, they’re going to go out to where they were originally intended to go, no need to panic.

Whether FASA’s issues with PAC in particular are Peterson taking his issues with Palmer out on FASA as a whole, as Palmer believes they do, or whether they’re rooted in Palmer projecting motives onto Peterson, or whether the whole thing is just a convoluted but apolitical mess is hardly relevant at this point; education director Mariah Perkins said it best when she told the entire room that she was disappointed in the way that the issue between FASA and PAC had been handled.

“It would have been nice if you guys had sat down and had a conversation as professional adults,” she said, after Peterson addressed the affair in his report to the board.

Wisdom. Maybe by next term the board and executive will collectively be able to end a meeting without once trying to verbally wring each other’s necks.

The next URSU meeting is on Nov. 15 at 5:30 p.m. in the URSU boardroom on the second floor of the Riddell Centre. If you can’t make it but would love to read about it as it happens, follow us on Twitter (@the_carillon).

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