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How to remove Treasurer from our Committee?

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Hi everyone I am new here and need some advice. I will try not to make this too long winded if I can.... basically this started last year when I was a tiger parent I watched our entire pack flounder around no communication misappropriation of funds etc. etc. this year I agreed to step up and be the Wolf leader and when I attended the first committee meeting it was revealed that every body on our current committee intends on the stepping down at the end of the year. So I did some asking around and got a group together that is willing to take over the committee and I am going to step up as the treasurer. My question to you guys is how can I get the current treasurer to step down with out having to go to the committee chair as she, the current treasurer, and secretary are all friends so they are protecting one another yet I know there is something going on with the books. They have not had a budget in four years, nobody keeps track of the funds,the treasurer's the only one with the checkbook and every time I ask a question such as how much did we receive from our Charter organization last year or how much do we get from fundraising etc. the treasurer can't seem to find these records.I keep saying that I'm in training and I need to figure these things out but the more I dig the more nasty they become about it so I'm wondering if all three of them might not have done something inappropriate with the funds like used it for personal loans as they have already having trouble at home... Where do I start and what do I do to try to get the treasurer removed before next February? I want to try to do it as anonymously as possible as they are all leaders of their groups as well.

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Welcome to the forums!

 

Sorry you are in a difficult situation.  One question:  Has it been established that you are definitely going to become the treasurer in February?

 

If so, in this kind of situation, I am not sure that I would rush it.  It sounds like you have a suspicion that there has been improper activity with the books, but no actual evidence.  Maybe the best thing to do would be to wait until the checkbook, bank statements etc. are turned over to you, and see what you see.  If the records show there is a problem (not very likely) or if you do not get complete records (probably much more likely), THEN you will be in a position to recommend some action by the committee and/or CO.

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I agree with NJCubScouter in that I would take a wait and see approach - you dont want to get dragged into whatever is going on.  I would be more concerned right now with the stonewalling than with the state of the books.  

 

If the committee chair is part of the stonewalling, either actively or by allowing the treasurer to resist, then you will get nowhere.  You said the committee _intends_ to step down at the end of the year.  Evidently they have not made a solid commitment and begun a transition.  So what happens if the committee chair decides to stay?  Can you work with someone who has behaved this way?  How do you think the chair will act toward you if you are trying to get to the bottom of whatever is going on?

 

If I were in your position I would consider only two options.  1) go to the charter organization, share your concerns and offer to become committee chair or 2) run away fast (this might mean starting a new pack).  This may seem extreme - and it is.  But, I personally have a very low tolerance for drama; for people not working together; and for people with an agenda that is at-odds with the goals of the unit. 

 

I guess there is a third option I would consider - wait till the end of the year and see what happens.  Quietly build some support and be ready to step in if the existing committee does in fact walk away with no successors in place.  

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Thank you both for your quick response and oh man it's so hard for me to sit on my hands and do nothing but that's why I'm getting suggestions because I don't want to step on any toes or jump in the middle of a hornets nest if it's not necessary... everyone claims to be leaving because they are boys are crossing over into Boy Scouts next year and they have their own committee and or because they have too much personal drama going on to uphold the position anymore it really is a big mess... in my opinion I feel like they got the grant money from our charter organization to fund the program for one more year for them and then they figure once they bail out it won't matter because they're already gone... problem is last year we got down to $20 in the bank account the fundraisers were failures and they couldn't even afford to buy the awards for the boys...the parents had to do most of that so I don't know where all the funds are going and nobody seems to have a record of it they haven't done any building maintenance or anything so what gives?

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Yep. This starts at the CO. So the charter organization representative is the person to talk to.

It doesn't have to be specific. It could be as simple as "What kind of financial accountability would you like us to have in the new year?"

 

In the meantime, try really hard not to assume the worst.

If the boys are getting their awards, and camp is getting paid for, it could be a matter of very sloppy paperwork. Folks (myself included) can get really testy when it's pointed out that they've left a lot of litter for someone else to collect.

 

If it is bad, it's not your problem to solve. Tell the COR you're not touching the books until they are satisfied with the numbers in the checkbook and are ready to walk you to the bank.

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I agree.  I'd recommend spending your time getting the new volunteers ready for the transition.  Be ready to hit the ground running.  Once you all take over, run a quality program and have a great pack.

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I agree with qwazse...do NOT accept the treasurer job and add your name to the accounts until there is an independent audit.  The audit committee should be appointed by the CO/COR and not include any current committee members.  Any discrepancies uncovered need to be resolved before the current Treasurer is relieved of duty.

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Any chance your just jumping to conclusions here without knowing what is going on? Exactly how much money do you think has been spent? Some of those fundraisers dont amount to much money going to the pack.

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I would agree with some of the other posts - don't imply or assume that something illegal has happened without facts - the most likely explanation is just poor book-keeping.  Once you get your hands on the checking account, you can try to sort it out.  You may want to consider moving to a different bank when you step in, it takes a bit of work to open a non-profit checking account (assuming your charter org is non-profit), but it can be done and may be the best way to start fresh (no blank checks floating around).  You should also consider holding a spring fund-raiser.  Our Council has done Spring product sales the past couple of years and they can be a good way to boost the Pack funds to get you through summer and into the fall before the Fall Product Sale. 

 

The good news is that most Scouting units live year to year, rarely is a substantial balance carried over from one year to the next.  When I became a Cubmaster, I too wondered where all of the money was going over the past years.  What I found was that the previous Cubmaster was actually injecting her own funds into the unit to keep it alive.  The first year, with poor popcorn sales, our balance was very low by the fall of my second year (not quite down to $20, but not much higher) before more popcorn money started coming in.  Plus, that's not counting the numerous purchases I was making out of my personal funds without asking the Pack for reimbursement.

 

The reality of a Pack is that our income comes from Dues, Fundraisers, and other fees we charge (for campouts and other events).  It sounds like in your case that perhaps the Chartered Organization also injects some money.  It should be easy to figure out about how much money should have been coming in.  I say 'should have' because in our unit's case we had several occasions where families never paid their dues or didn't turn in everything they owed for fundraisers.  If your unit wasn't keeping good records the chances are you may never be able to untangle that type of mess completely.  The best you may be able to hope for is doing a better job going forward.

 

The big expenses are:  paying for product for product sales, annual recharter ($24 per youth and adult to national), and summer camp registration.  You're also likely spending a mid-sized chunk on your Blue and Gold Banquet (cake, food, decorations) and Pinewood Derby (cars, awards, food).  Awards are a bigger chunk than they used to be - probably around $20 per Scout per year if the boys are actively completing adventures and if your unit is awarding belt loops.  Plus you have the cost of misc. den supplies (paper, crayons, glue, markers, etc.) and misc. Pack Meeting supplies (snacks, decorations, etc.).  The money goes much more quickly than you'd think, and I suspect many Packs drop down well under $500 in the early fall before money starts coming in again from fundraisers.

 

So, if I were you, given the lack of cooperation you've seen so far, I'd plan for the following:

1.)  Open a new Pack Checking Account the day your application for Treasurer is approved by the Chartered Organization.

2.)  Hold a fundraiser or two once you are Treasurer to build up some funds.

3.)  Come up with a budget that covers Blue and Gold Banquet, Pinewood Derby, Den Supplies (remember how much you spent on one kid for back to school supplies, and remember that a den is 6-8 boys... so even though they are only there once a week, you'll still likely need $100-$200 per den per year because we use things that schools don't like rubber bands, straws, etc.), Pack Meetings (depending on the size of the Pack, and depending on what you do for Pack Meetings, this could be as high as $100/month), etc.

4.)  Once you have your budget showing what you think you need, then you need to plan and run fundraisers or charge dues and fees to cover the expected budget. 

5.)  As you go through that first year, see how well you are tracking toward budget.  If you are spending more than anticipated, you may need to add additional fundraisers to make up the difference.  If you are showing a surplus, that may be good the first year so you can built up an emergency fund, but it may mean you need to charge or earn less the next year.

6.)  If your fundraising is better than in the past, you should show a larger balance at the end of the year.  If your fundraising is flat and you still show a much larger balance, then perhaps there was something shady going on with the past Committee (or they were really bad at managing Pack finances).

 

Sadly many Packs don't keep good records, and they get away with it because nobody holds them accountable (not the parents, not the chartered organization).  There have been cases where embezzlement has occurred from Scouting units, but it is often hard to prove and can take an auditor to uncover the details.  Most of our Packs operate on such a tight budget that there isn't a substantial amount to embezzle.  The rare exceptions are cases like the Police Explorer Post in IL where the cop who was running it took his own life rather than face what he'd done.  Hopefully most units that are bringing in that much money are keeping a closer eye on their balance sheet.

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While there may be something sinister going on, more often than not what I see is sheer incompetence. People (we are all volunteers, remember?) get in over their heads. Even qualified people can get overloaded because they underestimated what goes into maintaining the books for a troop/pack. 

 

It's one thing to maintain the books for something like the Rotary club vs. trying to properly allocate payments and expenses for 30 scouts plus their parents. 

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I think you are getting tons of good advice here and I agree with everything posted so far.

 

I think the suggestion to not assume that illegal activity is occurring is a good one. Especially because I imagine that you won't have anything close enough to adequate records for an independent audit. Still, get one if for no other reason than you can say that you did what you could.

 

The lawyer in me says you need to be careful so that, in the event somebody does start making accusations of financial impropriety, you are not dragged into it. Hence, the independent audit, the new checking account, etc. This is also the reason for staying out of it until there is a good, hard date for transition. Then, note the date, and start keeping immaculate records and especially a budget. 

 

I would also suggest that once you take over that there be a real emphasis on transparency. Don't take any shots at the previous people, just say, "You know, I think it's a good idea to have a budget" and start working on one. Then publish it every month at the Committee Meeting. Make a report to the Committee every month about income and expenditures. Get the Committee to approve it every month. Then, if someone has a problem, it can be addressed immediately instead of becoming a festering, puss-filled sore just waiting to be lanced at some inopportune moment.

 

And the CO should know, too. Just tell them, "We just got a new treasurer and he thinks the books are a mess. We are going to get an independent audit and get that fixed up just as quickly as we can. We will let you see the auditor's report and, of course, you are welcome to see the books any time you like." That way, (1) you are straight up hones with the CO, which has a right to know, (2) you are signaling transition (again, protecting yourself), and (3) promoting your new financial transparency.

 

I understand the urge to try and fix it now, but wait until you have control.

 

Good luck.

Edited by Ankylus
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I just stepped down as Treasurer for our Pack and am currently Treasurer in two other organizations. I honestly believe it's probably nothing malicious just incompetence. Everyone in Scouts at the Pack level are volunteers. As such, they are not always meticulous unless they just happen to have a math bent or OCD. Also, unless your Pack is huge with wildly successful fundraisers or your CO is really generous, there is probably not enough money flowing through to cover several people's mortgage payments. 

 

But you are right to want to turn things around and I commend you for stepping up! If it helps you to be patient, know that every year of scouting should start relatively fresh. It's wise to put a little into savings each year for equipment or to make repairs but other than that, the money the boys raise each year should be spent on them that same year. So if you start out next year with nothing that's not the end of the world -- you are just starting with a blank slate. But you can do things better and once I figured out the following steps, life as Treasurer got a million times easier! The following is my secret plan for having a great year (and not just financially).

 

#1 Plan your calendar for the entire upcoming year around graduation time. This is best done with the entire committee before people scatter for the summer. This would also be a great opportunity for your new committee to get to know one another and start off on the right foot. In your planning, include camp-outs, Winter Lodge, Blue & Gold, Pinewood Derby, etc. The previous year's calendar would be good to have since lots of things are cyclical. Another bonus to doing this is that you have your calendar ready for recruitment time.  

 

#2 Set a budget based on the events on the calendar plus awards, etc. I find it's best that events are kept affordable but that families have to pay something to feel invested (our worst attendance is always for free things... it's a mystery). We aim to keep monthly activities/go-see-its around $3 - $7 per scout with one big thing a year costing between $20 - $40 per scout. Also remember to figure out how much of dues can be used for expenses. For us dues are spent entirely on the annual BSA fee ($25/scout and their handbook, scarf, and slide). We make NOTHING on dues because we are a lower income area and want scouting to be affordable. We also get nothing from our CO so again... it's all fundraising. 

 

#3 Work with the Popcorn Kernel/Fundraising Chair to set the individual scout goal. This is crucial! In popcorn training they tell us that a good scouting program costs about $200 per scout which means they need to sell about $600 in popcorn. I find this to be accurate for a Pack of 17 - 25 scouts. We make the goal $650 to give us some wiggle room (if that sounds like a lot, know that it's only about 40 bags/boxes -- that's quite do-able). If your CO gives you money each year, divide that by the number of scouts and subtract it from the individual goal. If you don't do popcorn, calculate your goal based on what you do. For example, if you sell candy bars that each earn you $0.50, then each scout would need to sell 400 bars. We hate fundraising so we only do one a year. I think that makes expectations very clear and if the fundraiser happens early in the season you know how much money you have to play with for the rest of the year.

 

#4 Adjust your budget/activities based on fundraising results. At popcorn kick-off, I tell people that events are tied to popcorn sales. I estimate the cost of each event based on goal and then revise the event based on actual sales and then send it to every parent. I believe in transparency plus it helps the low/high sellers see what effect they had on the whole group (I don't embarrass low sellers by name or anything, but they know what they sold!!) For example, we have a pumpkin carving event every year. If sales are good we add in a hayride. If sales are poor... too bad, no hayride. It's still fun and it's a good lesson in being thrifty and spending within your means. Blue & Gold could be a catered event or a family potluck based on sales, and so on. 

 

#5 Spend the money on the boys! I am excellent with money and planning so ever since I took over as Treasurer we have had a surplus each year. One year that surplus allowed us to schedule a bonus LegoLand Discovery Center Bage Workshop. Definitely save a little money each year (if you can) but remember to reward the boys who earned the money.    

 

BTW want to know something funny? I came up with this on my own through painful trial and error.... but it was never a secret to the BSA. They had already laid out a similar plan and it's called the Perfect Year of Scouting. It wasn't until I had been secretary for a year, then treasurer, then popcorn kernel that I heard about this plan at Kernel training. That's when I learned we poor volunteers waste a LOT of time reinventing the wheel. This has ALL been done before. Use scouting.org, scouter.com, and your council's website to make your job easier and save yourself a LOT of hassle. And welcome to the club!   ;)

 

One last word of warning... as Treasurer, you really need all these things to get done to set a budget and spend responsibly. But don't fall into the trap of DOING all these things yourself (that's a word of advice for any parent joining a weak committee). Den leaders/Cubmaster should be at the planning meeting. The secretary should write up the calendar and post it for the rest of the Pack. The popcorn kernel should help set the fundraising goal, etc. I did allow myself to become become the task-record keeper though and that was a great move. At every meeting as people said, "Someone should really look into...."  I replied, "Great idea, why don't you follow-up on that or delegate that to one of the Pack parents! We'll follow up with you on that at the next committee meeting." During the meeting I would make a list of all those suggestions or tasks in a blank email message, tag it with the name of the person who suggested it, and then send it to everyone as soon as the meeting ended. Following up with that list became a routine committee meeting task and kept things from falling through the cracks. 

Edited by Zaphod
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I notice some people suggesting an "audit".  Have any of your units ever had an actual audit done?  I know that if I ever suggested such a thing in my troop, people would look at me as if I had landed from the planet Vulcan, pointy ears and all.  What would an audit of a troop's finances actually entail?  Comparing all the checks with receipts?  I think our treasurer gets receipts most of the time, but not 100 percent of the time.  There are probably reimbursement checks written to leaders, and hopefully the treasurer gets receipts for all of those.  But I have a suspicion that if an actual auditor (that is, a CPA) audited our books, we would not pass with flying colors.  With nobody stealing anything

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Yes, comparing checks with receipts.  And some sort of documentation for each debit/credit detailing what it was for.  For example, if there is a check written to buy tents, the committee should be able to conclude that tents were actually purchased and are in use.  Checks written to individuals should have documentation that the expenditure was approved in advance and what it was for.  No one in the unit should be spending/obligating unit funds without prior approval of the committee.

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As I stated above, I don't think there will be anything close to adequate records to establish what was going on. The purpose of the audit is to identify weaknesses in the financial administration of the unit. If it comes from an outside party, it will have more force. It is apparent that nobody involved in running the unit right now has any idea how the books should be set up and the accounts managed. An outside audit would help that.

 

In response to NJCubScouter's question, no, I have not. And I, too, would get the same reaction. But then, I have never been involved in a unit whose finances were so poorly documented that they couldn't tell if the expenditures were going for the unit's business or people's mortgages. 

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