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Scouts' debt to cost their members

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It may be seen from the interstate, but do Scouts spend their time in an office building? I hope not



I know we try spending time outdoors-- showing off this wonderful office building council had to build with donated money doesn't make sense to me. That is the Boy Scouts of America. What is it selling? That the "professionals" don't know how to be THRIFTY like a Scout is supposed to be.


Hmm.... "A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, THRIFTY, Brave, Clean, and Reverent."

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Yes, the Scouts spend time in the building - when they go to purchase their uniforms.

The Scouters were thrifty with the building. One of the big construction firms in town, of which the owner is a Scouter, built it substantially below market costs. The Board of Directors - all volunteers, no professionals - had to approve the plan. Scouts and Scouters alike in the AAC were glad to see it built.

At the council level, Scouting is a business, hopefully a successful one. Our Volunteer Service Center reflects that - a successful business with a sound, solid history and a strong future ahead.

A Scout is Thrifty. A Scout works to pay his way and to help others. He saves for unforseen needs. He protects and conserves natural resources. He carefully uses time and property.


I do not see where it says a Scout is cheap. The council built a building that was within their budget and met their needs. Please show me how that violates the Scout law.

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Well apparently someone did not do their budget right for this council, or else they would not have to charge 52 dollars a head, a year in addition to registration fees i would assume ( i have yet to see anything on that aspect of the council's budget) and FOS, and popcorn, etc...


A scout office can look nice and serve an important function, but does not have to be large and extravagent. When you go to buy clothes, most of Americans today do not go for the builidng that looks the shinest, but for the most economical, close by, and shopper smart choice. Unfortunately the BSA has a monopoly on uniforms so people will have no choice. Would they still go to the scout office to buy uniforms if it was not a huge and extravagent office. I would safely venture a guess and say yes.


Scouts do not need to be cheap, lord knows nothing in the BSA IS cheap, but it should be managed. Excessive costs, professional salaries, office space should be controlled, and the vast majority of funds should go to enhance the actual program, primarily the scout camps and scouting activities, not facilities that could (hopefully, but still only a "could") bring in more boys and enhance the program. If money was flowing in and just laying around would be one thing, but in a fiscally tight economic situation like most americans are in today, that is just unrealisitc.


Out of curiosity, how are volunteers on boards of directors picked, i personally don't know. I do know that our exec board and all other upper committees are filled with the rich and upper class, the affluent and effluent of our community, who might not think spending xxx amount of dollars on a building, to look nice, is a bad thing, whereas your SM's and CC's for your troop's just might think so.


Even some of the upper committee's in my council are restricted, and in a volunteer run organization, i stop and ask...why? Our property committee meetings are only by invitation only, not just anyone can attentd. I would like to know what they are thinking about buyin, especially if my troop popcorn sales and my personal FOS donations are going to help them buy it. If anyone knows why committees like this are closed to the general volunteer population, and can defend that rationale, i personally would really like to know why.



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There is an old saying in business that goes something like, "One man's fixed cost is another man's discretionary or variable cost."


Scoutldr is correct. Those members and unit leaders that have heartburn over this situation (as they should)need to contact their CORs and make their feelings known.


My suggestion would be to include in the Charter agreement, a requirement that COs make up any budgetary shortfall of a council. You could bet there would be alot more interest in the management of a council by the COs if that were the case. The way the system is set up now there seems to be little or no accountability for mismanagement.



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scoutingagain writes:

My suggestion would be to include in the Charter agreement, a requirement that COs make up any budgetary shortfall of a council. You could bet there would be alot more interest in the management of a council by the COs if that were the case.


I would bet that the number of COs would soon become zero. Who would sponsor a cub scout pack under those circumstances?

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Merlyn's comment is spot on!


I remember trying to sell some custom software to a local municipality, and their contract language read, in effect, if anything goes wrong with the implementation of the project, no matter whose fault it is ( yours, ours, whatever ), you will forfeit your bond and receive no payment. All it would have taken is for one supervisor to say he wouldn't use it, and I'd be toast! I immediately ( and respectfully ) withdrew my bid.



( Careful Merlyn, some could interpret your post as being supportive of Scouting! ) :-)



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This council is pipe dreaming if they think their existing scouts are all going to roll over and pay the $52/yr additional fee, or that they'll manage to attract many new scouts with this new fee and the added negative publicity that the council is receiving.


Just from personal experience: the packs and troops we've been affiliated with have charged anywhere from $30/yr to $70/yr in dues. Of this, it is true that $10 goes to national and about another $12 goes for Boys Life, and our council gets zip. And even at $70/yr scouting is a tremendous value, given what the scouts (and often, the whole family) receive in return. But still, many parents find these annual dues to be high and would balk - no wait, they'd turn around and run - if we were to add another $52 to the cost. Most of them won't take the time to ask why. They just won't pay it and they'll find something else for their kids to do instead. And those who do take the time to ask why won't be at all pleased to learn that this is to compensate for the council's financial mismanagement and a good chunk of those folks will leave scouts too.


So I'm sorry but if adding a $52 (!!) surcharge for every scout is the best plan that this council can come up with, then perhaps they deserve to become extinct. Maybe whatever council they end up merging with will run a better, more responsible program for the scouts.



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Be prepared to open books





Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 01/25/06


The Monmouth Council of Boy Scouts sent out letters to troop leaders and Scoutmasters last week informing them that parents will now be required to pay an annual fee of $52 per Scout to help the council get out of a financial hole. Previously, there had been only a one-time $10 registration fee.


The council says it is more than $1 million in debt, $252,000 of which is already considered past due, despite having had a balanced budget as recently as four years ago. Scout leaders and parents of Scouts deserve to know how the council got into its fiscal mess. Until it provides a full accounting of its revenues and expenses over the past few years, parents should hold off on paying the annual fee.


In addition to the $52 per Scout fee, the council also is asking for voluntary matching donations from parents. The fees and donations are to be used as a guaranteed source of income to help the council obtain a mortgage to consolidate its debt. The council already included in its new budget the $390,000 it would receive if each of Monmouth County's 7,937 Scouts pays the fee. That "spend-it-before-you-get-it" mentality may offer some clues as to why the district is in trouble. There is ample reason to believe that many parents particularly those with multiple children in Scouting will have their children drop out rather than pay the fee.


Lee Marconi, who took over as the council's executive director Oct. 1, said several building projects at Scout camps were underfunded because some anticipated financial backing didn't materialize. He also said the council relied too heavily on borrowing to pay the bills. That fiscal mismanagement has proved costly.


Marconi says he is preparing a binder of financial information for each district, including past years' budgets and council audits. That information should have been provided before, not after, parents were notified about the mandatory annual fee. And the information should be made available to every Scouting parent.


The Monmouth council's huge buildup of debt in such a short period of time is disturbing. Council leaders said a review by the Boy Scouts national office last year blamed the problem on the council's lackluster fund-raising efforts. Yet the council's 2004 annual report boasts that its fund-raising arm, Friends of Scouting, set an "all-time record" of $210,000.


In addition, the report said the $435,730 in gross popcorn sales by the council's Scouts exceeded its goal, and ranked first in the Northeast Region in sales growth and profit margin. It also said membership was up 22 percent over the last three years, and that the council's move from its longtime home in Ocean Township to larger quarters in Marlboro was done "for almost no cost."


The Monmouth Council of Girl Scouts a separate organization reports its members pay an annual $10 registration fee that goes directly to the national organization, yet it is financially secure. Boy Scouts in Ocean County pay annual dues of $75. Annual fees may be a new reality for the Monmouth council as well, but it owes every Scouting parent a full explanation of the debt and how the council's financial picture has changed in recent years. Unless and until it has done that, the council shouldn't expect an extra cent from any of its members.

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Actually you could say Merlyn supports scouting, its the BSA with which he has issues.


Yikes! Now I am channeling Kudu



If you were properly channeling Kudu, you would point out that the problem with liberals is that they just don't understand that distinction :-/


The problem with the BSA is not its conservative politics or occasional financial scandals. The problem with the BSA is that big government has established it with "special rights" in the form of an absolute religious monopoly on Scouting.


Well, almost absolute, in 1924 they tried to block the GSUSA from using the term "Scouts" but were unsuccessful :-/


In free countries like England and Germany, people can pick the kind of Scouting association that they want to join. If you want a full-service Scouting association with full time professionals working in million-dollar buildings in good neighborhoods, private camps, and lawyers to keep out the wrong kinds of people, then $52 per Scout, plus Troop and national fees is a bargain.


On the other hand, if you want to pay under $50 (plus insurance) to register an entire Troop, but camp in public or private campgrounds and suffer from not having religious fundamentalists dictate Uniform styles, laser tag policies, and with whom your Troop Committee is allowed associate, then perhaps the "European" all-volunteer model of Scouting that Baden-Powell envisioned would be the most appropriate product that a free market-economy could offer you.





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What recourse does the council have if a scout refuses to pay the $52 surcharge if he sends in the $10 for BSA membership? Can the council refuse/disenroll his membership or restrict access to council events or property?

Personally, if this was my council doing this, I would refuse the surcharge on principle alone.

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The math doesn't make sense! $390,000 is only $49/Scout based on the number of Scouts listed in the article. At $52/Scout the total would be $412,724 a difference of $22,724. Where is that money going? How do they plan on making up the $610,000 shortage? That would be quite a task for FOS to tackle.


And why is the 1st thing to get cut program? Why not weed out the extra expenses incurred but the professional staff. Combine districts. Cut DE's. Less clerical staff. Don't cut program until everything else is exhausted.


Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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Something smells here ... rotten. If I was a COR in the Monmouth Area Council, I'd be on the phone to the Council President, demanding a forensic audit. Depending on the results of that audit, I might well call for a general business meeting of the Council, with the agenda being a motion for a vote of No Confidence in the Executive Board and the Scout Executive.


A Council Executive Board isn't a bunch of children playing with plastic blocks. If it's anything like my council's board, there are businessmen from all aspects of life on it. They ALL have one requirement in their day jobs: Make the money needed to open the doors tomorrow. Where were they in all this?


The article Fred Goodwin posted noted "Lee Marconi, who took over as the council's executive director Oct. 1, said several building projects at Scout camps were underfunded because some anticipated financial backing didn't materialize. He also said the council relied too heavily on borrowing to pay the bills. That fiscal mismanagement has proved costly."


Who authorized turning a single shovel of dirt before the funding was locked in?


Who authorized borrowing to pay the basic bills?


I'd be recommending to my IH: "Let's look at other area Councils for the next charter." As far as the "user fee" goes, I'd be telling the Council President I'll consider paying it when I see the Executive Board opening their personal checkbooks to the tune of $252,000.


Malfeasance? Misfeasance? Non-feasance? It's time to let the forensic accountants come in. This Council needs a clean bill of management health, and it won't get it with a $52 a kid over-fee.



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