Volume 13, Number 13 March 10, 2006

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Surplus assets now donated, not dumped

By Michelle Boulton

For years, the University’s Surplus Assets Recycling Facility (SERF) has held weekly sales to dispose of everything from furniture and laboratory equipment to farm equipment and vehicles, but as of Jan. 1, that process is being handled through an auction facility.

“We are not set up to properly handle the disposal of assets, and doing so has been costing us money,” says John Nobel, Manager, Logistics Management, Facilities Management Division (FMD). Although never a lucrative process, for the past five years Surplus Assets has been running at a deficit. This is due mainly to the growing amount of obsolete electronic equipment like computers that remained unsold.

In the past, many of these items simply ended up in the landfill. With increasing awareness of the environmental impact of this type of disposal (see story below), the University is trying to be more socially and environmentally responsible, he says. Whenever possible, items once destined for the landfill are now donated to charitable organizations that strip them down and recycle salvageable components.

For most campus units, disposing of surplus assets will remain the same, or similar. The major difference, says Nobel, is that any revenue generated from the auctions will no longer be going back to the originating unit. In the past, 75 per cent of proceeds were returned to these units while 25 per cent was kept by FMD to help defray costs. FMD hopes to cover their costs which include picking up and transferring the assets to the auction site, but Nobel does not anticipate any significant revenue from these sales.

All revenue and expenses will be reported annually to Financial Services. If any noteworthy revenue is achieved, Nobel says the Provost’s Committee on Integrated Planning will allocate the funds to pro-jects that will benefit the entire University community.

While they cannot sell their surplus assets independently, units do still have the option of transferring those items to another unit. Because the University is required to track the status of all its capital assets, the Financial Services Division must be notified of the transfer by both the originating department and the receiving department (for more information, see the FMD website). A journal voucher must also be filed to transfer any funds from one department to the other.

Unfortunately, there is no central registry at this point to help units find the people on campus who may need their surplus assets, says Nobel. FMD does, however, claim any surplus furniture that could be used by other units on campus.

“We have to remember that all of these assets, regardless of where they are housed, are ultimately owned by the University of Saskatchewan.”

Michelle Boulton is a Saskatoon freelance writer

For more information, contact communications.office@usask.ca

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