Volume 29 - Number 17 - Thursday, May 29, 1997

Budget clears Board

by Eric Smith

A final version of McGill's operating budget for 1997-98 was approved by the Board of Governors earlier this week.

Although it will not reduce McGill's accumulated operating deficit of just over $60 million, it is a balanced budget.

To cope with provincial grant reductions of $11.5 million, faculties and administrative units across the University have been asked to absorb cuts of 3.2%.

Students will be charged additional fees for registration and information technology. These fees total $140, and replace the $255 administrative and academic services charges which were proposed in earlier drafts of the budget. "The government will permit us to levy these charges," said Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance) Phyllis Heaphy. She added that all money raised from the information technology charge "must be spent on the purposes stated."

The budget sets aside $3 million for student financial aid to help students who encounter financial difficulty because of the large increase in fees imposed by the Quebec government on out-of-province students.

The $5.5 million McGill made this year from the sale of the HostExplorer software was not applied to balancing next year's budget and will instead be treated as a capital asset. Its future distribution is still unknown.

The final passage of next year's budget was delayed by very late news from the provincial government on the size of the cut. And although that cut is not as large as had been anticipated, it is scheduled to be followed by another cut of almost the same magnitude next year, and a further reduction the following year.

Budgeting for McGill next year is likely to be as painful and difficult a task as it was this year, but Heaphy says she at least has the information necessary to get an early start. "There is no promise from the government that this is it as far as further cuts are concerned," she says, "but it's more information than we had in the past."

Copies of the complete budget document are available through Vice-Principal's Heaphy's office (local 6037).

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