Operation Assertion Update: Review of the Proposal

Carleton Hall Proposal [PDF]

Yesterday I presented this proposal (pdf above) to a select group of area and council representatives to review its substance. This meeting was not a decision making meeting, but a discussion meeting. While the general consensus was favourable, there are still gaps to fill in the plan.

What follows is the discussion and how we aim to improve the plan.

Finances

Income Expenses
Fund Raising $500
Rentals- Non-Theatre $1000 Operating Expenses $4000
Rentals – Theatre $6250 Website $100
Grants $1000 Branding/marketing materials $300
Total $8750 Total $4400

The above finance projections have been copied from the proposal here so I can discus them without forcing you to download the PDF.

While the stated finances in the plan look promising, they have no backing. The plan is relying on the theatre production to step forward and actually book the hall. While we can estimate and guess what we can get based on industry experience, we don’t have any assurances they will.
?Remedy Approach theatre groups now and get written assurances that if the hall were to still exist they would rent the hall.

The next item is the hall’s operating expenses. While we had heard that the hall runs for $3500-4000 annually, it is actually more. The expenses for the first half of the year were $2700, pushing the operating costs to $5000 (There were some one time only annual costs in that report). You would than have to add between $500-1000 for annuitization of larger big ticket items (ie. a roof) for a total of $6000.
?Remedy While this doesn’t break the above budget, it does raise the minimum before break even and something we should be strongly aware of before venturing in to this project.

In addition to the annual operating expenses, the hall will have a $2000 deficit from this year, plus $8000 needed for the roof. This would leave us to raise $16000 over the next year if we looking to break 100% even by August 2011. The original plan to raise money for the roof from grants had a potential problem. If the grants was the direct access grants, capital projects are not approved. To make matters worse, the amount and to who receives them has been greatly reduced this year. This is not to say there are other grants available, but we would have to explore more.
?Remedy Research more possible avenues for raising the funds needed for the roof, and increasing our revenues to cover this years deficit. (The projected income still covers the expenses at this point, but I’d rather keep a larger gap.)

While the rental of the hall to theatre groups would provide more sustainable income than one off events, we run the risk of upsetting the balance of internal vs external hours used. A quick count of 11 hours per week by scouting by the 1st South Vancouver group, then add a few more for area events, and you might come to ballpark 15 hours a week. Take 36 weeks of activity, and we get 540 hours. The proposal calls for five 2.5 week rentals = 5 rentals * 2.5 weeks * 5 days per week * 8 hours a day = 500 hours. These back of the napkin calculations lead to a very even split to usage, which for tax purposes is not good. I don’t have the answers about what percentage is needed, or how much we save. Perhaps we can make enough to forgo trying to get the tax break.
?Remedy Research into the tax break, and explore ways to increase Scoutings usage or other uses that qualify.

In addition to the above problem, any 3rd party that wishes to rent from us has to fill out a form, and provide proof of insurance with Scouts Canada named as an additional insured. This then all gets sent off and has to be approved by the Risk Manager and insurers. So even if we find reputable renters, the national office and our insurers get the final say. The friendly neighbourhood B.P&P. limits third party or non-scouting use to “like organizations for the purpose similar to Scouting.” While some at the meeting seemed to think it said youth organizations, my interpretation would extend that to environmental, healthy living (blood donation, dance groups), or civic (Polling stations). We are trying to produce healthy, engaged citizens, not ones that don’t know how to interact with the community once they grow up and leave us.
?Remedy Explore more specifically what is allowed beyond the vague B.P.&P statement.

Personnel

This is the other major topic of discussion. The proposal states that three Rovers have stepped up and are looking to join the hall committee, and four more are willing to help were possible. This helps but isn’t enough. If we were to add a schedule of duties (who is in charge of what) and add a few more people, it would go a long way for our case. When the current hall committee took over six years ago, there was a list of 7-8 people who would work for the hall. Of course that number has gone down over the years.
?Remedy Expand the proposal to include more details about day to day operations and personnel plan. Recruit more volunteer into the hall committee.

Basically they are warning us that there is a lot of deja vu from the previous plan many years back. Lots of high hopes, but no proof of future results.

Conclusion

The participants there asked a lot of hard hitting questions and I for one thank them for doing that. By bringing any weaknesses to to light now, we can fix them before they proposal goes to the Council management. They were receptive to questions and allowed for “don’t have an answer now” to be a valid response.

That doesn’t mean the hall is guaranteed to be around come next year. We will have the opportunity to bring this proposal to the full council management in September, giving us a month and a half to prepare. There was discussion of whether the effort of the team would be worth the time and energy. With only one small group meeting out of the hall, there is the possibility of a better use of our efforts.

My belief is that with the correct support, effort and ideas, the hall will prove to be beneficial to the Area and Council. We may be starting in a difficult position, and yes we have a hard road ahead, but we will come out on top.

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