| Gerts in the black; unused funds for speakers

The revised SSMU budget presented at Council on Thursday evening revealed that Gerts and the SSMU Operations Committee may break even this year. The Operations Committee ended last year with an $85,633 deficit. In the revised budget the deficit now stands at $6,410.

The deficit for Gerts is down from $16,905 to $1,525 – though SSMU VP (Finance and Operations) Jose Diaz said the number is still inflated to include potential incidental costs in the spring.

“Right now Gerts is in the black. It has been in the black as of January, but the reason it’s showing a deficit is because we are playing it safe,” Diaz explained.

Diaz attributed the positive financial trend at SSMU to the success of mini-courses, which generated a profit of $25,000, and the renewed popularity of Gerts this year.

“Sales are expected to end at over $200,000, which hasn’t been seen for quite some time. Four or five months have had records in terms of sales,” he said.

Diaz linked this success to diversified events, from the Superbowl to co-hosted nights with CKUT featuring live bands. Gert’s has also hosted more faculty-specific events, for engineering, management, and law, and started to serve food – which Diaz said keeps patrons drinking for longer.

Many of the budget departments currently run large deficits, but Diaz explained that these are considered subsidies for running SSMU operations, and are taken from SSMU’s annual intake of $1.5 million in student fees.

With SSMU’s improved financial conditions, Diaz and the rest of the executives are looking for ways to use available funds. “SSMU’s a not for profit [organization], so we’re not supposed to have any budget at the end of the year. When we end up with surplus, we need to allocate it somewhere else,” Diaz explained.

Earlier this year, Diaz created a Concerts and Conferences department to channel extra cash toward events like a Girl Talk concert at the end of this month.

Diaz and VP (Internal) Alex Brown are currently looking into bringing a high-profile speaker to McGill before the end of the year – rumoured to be Salman Rushdie – and hosting a smaller concert.