Red Cedar Zen Community, 1021 N Forest, Bellingham Washington

Finance Committee 2012-07-13

Red Cedar Zen Community Finance Committee Meeting 13 July 2012

PRESENT:  John Wiley, Marti Bartlett, Talus Latona

KEEPING UP: Discussion acknowledges the volume of volunteer work to be done, especially in the context of our busy lay lives.  Members commit to monitor their energy levels and keep other committee members informed about what we are able to do.  Marti's work is likely to reduce a little soon, and a new volunteer will help with the books (see below).  John offered to pay some of the bills to help out Talus, maybe divide up between online bills and check writing.

QUARTERLY REPORTS: End of July is realistic for this report to be available.  Some post retreat info is not final yet, which will be helpful (e.g. Samish).

QUICKBOOK REPORTS:  We have received requests for specific types of finance reports, such as a report for the Tenzo collating meal expenses for retreats.  These reports don't take that long to create, but they do require some effort. In the context of so many other tasks that 'don't take that long' and being overextended, most realistic is probably to agree to add it to the task list as a lower priority item.  An alternative might be to have the shoppers route all receipts back through the Tenzo so they can collect the data before submitting the reimbursement forms.

QUICKBOOKS DATA.  What if Marti gets knocked out by a meteorite and sleeps for two months?  Is our financial data somewhere where others can access it? Yes, there is a flash drive in an envelope in the office files cabinet with the data.  It is in Quickbooks format.  Maybe it's possible to export it to a set of CSV tables.  Maybe an option someday would be to move the data online, so types of data entry could be divided up and members of other committees could generate their own reports.  Most applications are moving toward web services now, it would not be surprising if Intuit developed an online version of Quickbooks.

VOLUNTEER.  Cindy Spee has volunteered to help with our bookkeeping.  She is a friend of Jolie Cole, a BIMS member.  She has been studying accounting.  Volunteering free labor to us would help with our needs and provide her with experience.  Marti would train her and get a one year commitment.  What would be the risk exposure for Red Cedar of having a non-member working on our bookkeeping?  This role doesn't handle any money or have access to account passwords.  The risk would be the possibility of dropping the ball.  Cindy comes with the recommendation of being thorough.  Marti would be taking on supervising the bookkeeping instead of doing the legwork.

BUILDING RENTAL BULK DISCOUNT.  What would be the financial impact of adding a bulk discount? No renters are in the position now of taking the discount and reducing our income.  Rentals lately have been one-off, not the class type.  This might be a way to attract additional renters.  The Finance Committee recommends discounts of 10% for regular (minimum weekly) rentals over a period of 4 weeks, or 20% over a period of 8 weeks, to be paid in advance.  Board members with a conflicting interest (potential to be renters) should recuse themselves from voting on this policy.

PUBLIC ACCESS. Our website and maybe membership form lists off-hours access to the Dharma Hall as a benefit to being a member of Red Cedar.  There have been several attempts by people who have no connection to our activities to sign up for membership just to get access to the building.  They had the understanding that they just pay some money and they get the door code.  This policy is a serious security risk because it gives access to people we don't know at all, which comes with additional concerns for female members who end up in a desolate building with male strangers.  This policy is a serious tax status risk because it provides membership benefits with monetary value.  This policy is a serious mission risk because it creates a purely quid-pro-quo relationship.  The Finance Committee is NOT recommending that a policy be developed to restrict access to the door code.  The Finance Committee is recommending that access to the door code not be advertised as a benefit of membership or listed as such in policy.

RENTAL FEES.  The board requested the Finance Committee to review the rental fees in the context of the local market.  John will do a market survey by investigating the cost for renting from comparable sites such as The Firehouse, the credit union, food co-op, and yoga studios.  In addition to the bulk rental discount discussed previously, the Finance Committee recommends removing the "Group Membership" language from the rental fee structure because the existing group we share space with (BIMS) rents space under a separate negotiated agreement, and there are not enough timeslots left open for us to take on another group.

501(c)(3) TAX EXEMPTION.  The 501c3 subcommittee will meet again on July 28 to continue progress on the application for our own independent status without being a member of the umbrella organization.  We would like to have the form pretty much complete by the end of September, but there are still some complex attachments left to do.

MEETING TIMES.  Thursday evenings at 6PM seem to be a realistic time for the Finance Committee members to meet.

REIMBURSEMENT.  Red Cedar members and associates don't seem to be aware that the Treasurer is the person to go to for reimbursement and that the necessary form is by the office door.  How can we publicize this information?  1) We can get the notice into the Finance Committee and Board meeting minutes.  2) Twice it will be mentioned during the announcements after Wednesday night sit.  3) People most likely to need reimbursement will be emailed or contacted directly, such as our shoppers (Joan and Dave) and those making purchases for retreats.


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