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Fact Sheet on AMS Discretionary Fund

January 24, 2013

KINGSTON, ON – Recently, questions have been raised about the AMS Executive Discretionary Fund. Some factually inaccurate statements have been made regarding the use of the AMS Executive Discretionary Fund and the approach to employee development and appreciation in the AMS. We have prepared this fact sheet to ensure that students have accurate information about their student government.

Budgeting & Approval

Over the summer months, all AMS corporate services research costing of products and services, calculate sales projections, and plan staff scheduling and wages. All of the AMS commissions and offices plan events, projects, and campaigns, researching quotes from venues, vendors, and service providers. The budgeting philosophy that the AMS adheres to is zero-based budgeting. This means that managers, commissioners, and the executive, start each budget line at zero, and must justify every dollar added. In accordance with the long-standing system of checks and balances, all budgets are approved by AMS Assembly and/or the AMS Board of Directors.

The AMS Assembly budget is funded by the AMS Specific Fee, which is currently set at $70.18. This year, the AMS implemented and has maintained a 10 percent cut across all commission and office budgets.

The AMS Executive Discretionary Fund is one line item within the $1,060,000 AMS Assembly budget. This year we budgeted $15,000 for the Exec fund; thus far we have spent approximately $10,000. The AMS Executive Discretionary Fund is used to cover team development, staff appreciation, business meetings, and events at the University or in the community that the AMS Executive is expected to attend. This year, the AMS Assembly budget was approved on November 8, 2012. At the request of a number of students, we wanted to publish approximate figures for what we have spent thus far.

Staff Development and Team Building: $1800

The AMS Executive Discretionary Fund covers staff development and team building for approximately 40 salaried staff members and permanent staff members who work for the AMS. The AMS Executive, working with the AMS General Manager and Chairman of the Board, have approached team development and staff appreciation with careful thought and planning, starting the Executive Discretionary Fund at zero and building from there. This amount includes roughly half the cost of the AMS summer retreat (which serves as both a team building and staff appreciation event) and other team building initiatives, such as the deposit for a summer intramural team. These types of expenses are not only in line with general best-practice, but the money allotted to these events is significantly smaller than other similar-sized organizations.

Staff Appreciation: $4400

AMS employees do not receive health coverage or any type of benefits paid for by the organization, again setting the AMS apart from many similar sized organizations. The AMS executive hosts staff socials and planned initiatives in order to foster staff morale and motivate high performance. This is standard in any workplace, but as a student government the AMS must necessarily be conscious of responsible spending. This amount includes roughly half of the cost of the AMS summer retreat, staff socials, and incidental expenses. An example of a staff appreciation expense would be providing dinner for the Human Resources team (2 staff members and 2 volunteers) as they worked until midnight sorting the 2600 paper applications received in September for job and volunteer positions.

Business Meetings: $700

The AMS Executive, some salaried student members, and permanent staff members incur costs attending business meetings during the year with University administrators, City officials, alumni, and community stakeholders.

Events: $2400

The AMS Executive is invited to numerous events at the University and in the community; moreover, there is an expectation that the AMS be present at numerous events throughout the year. These events include: Spring Reunion events, Queen’s Mini U, Tricolour Guard Dinner, Grant Hall Society events, the Spirit of Initiative campaign launch events, the City’s Remembrance Day Wreath ceremony, a “Win a Dinner with the Exec!” prize offered during Orientation Week, the John Orr Gala in Toronto, among others. We are careful to only attend events that the Society derives benefits from.

Platform/Miscellaneous: $700

As part of a platform point in the 2010-11 elections, the AMS has an agreement with the Queen’s Student Alumni Association to provide $5,000 in funding to support the QSAA alumni speaker series. So far, $700 of this has been spent. Past speakers include Queen's alumnus and NASA astronaut Drew Feustel, PhD'95. The remainder of the executive discretionary fund may go towards implementing platform initiatives or executive initiatives undertaken during the year.

Further Questions Invited!

The AMS hopes that this fact sheet clarifies the careful budgeting process that surrounds these funds. As always, students with questions about the society’s budgeting processes are invited to contact AMS’ General Manager, Annette Bergeron (gm@ams.queensu.ca), the Chair of the Board of Directors, Rob Gamble (board@ams.queensu.ca),  or the Vice-President of Operations, Tristan Lee (vpops@ams.queensu.ca). The AMS also invites any and all students to attend AMS Assembly and ask any questions that they may have.

Please direct all media inquiries to Taylor Mann, AMS Communications Officer, at comm@ams.queensu.ca or (613) 533-6000 x 75850.

A copy of the Assembly-approved AMS Budget can here found here. 

BACKGROUNDER 

Alma Mater Society (AMS) - http://www.myAMS.org

The central undergraduate student government at Queen’s University, the AMS represents over 14,200 students and is the oldest student government in Canada. The constituency is represented through 12 faculty and residence societies. The AMS Council, which is made up of a three-person executive, six commissioners, and three directors, oversees all day-to-day activities within the Society, including 14 corporate services and various government committees that address virtually all matters of student life at Queen’s.