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rubixcube

Are all parents invited to troop comittee meetings? And who is allowed to vote?

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TLDR: The “old guard adults” (parent’s whose sons have aged out of the troop) basically run our troop committee and just voted to spend a large sum of money.  The parents with scouts currently in the troop had basically no say in the decision.

Just a quick backstory here.  Our troop owns a 21-foot motor boat that that was donated to the troop several years ago.  This boat is stored at the house of one of the old guard adults (I think he officially owns the boat as well).  We take the boat on troop outings maybe once or twice a year.  I believe that the rest of the time, the boat is used for personal use.  Recently the boat stopped working on one of our troop outings.  The old guard adults somehow think that the issue was due to the scouts misuse of the boat, but in reality, it was simply due to age and wear and tear.

So at our last troop committee meeting, the committee just voted to spend $4,000 from our troop account to fix the boat.  Most of the parents did not even know that a committee meeting or a vote was taking place to spend this large sum of money.  The committee chair is one of the old guard adults, and our troop committee is mostly made up of old guard adults.  Invites for the meeting where only sent out to troop committee members.  And all of parents with scouts currently in the troop who did show up (like myself), are serving as ASMs, and were not allowed to vote (even though I have 2 son’s in the troop and most of the voting committee members no longer have any kids in the troop).  The money being spent was money raised by scouts in the troop through fundraising.  I have had some informal discussions with the parents who have scouts currently in the troop, and most would rather see the money used towards other things that would more directly benefit the scouts.

So what can we do?

I know that this issue should be brought to our chartered organization, except that we don't have a charter organization.  On paper, we are charted by a local church, but the church has actually been closed for about 10 years.  I think we have the former pastor sign as the COR, but he has zero interest in anything that goes on in the troop.

Also as far as going to the council, the issue there is that many of the old guard adults are really involved in the council, and I doubt that we would get fair treatment there.  I know at least one sits on the council board.  Even more significantly, many old guard adults have donated large sums of money to the council (several of them wear James E West award knot).  And that is what makes this whole situation even more annoying, since they obviously have the money to fix the boat themselves, without needing to take it out of our scout's program funds.  In my opinion, they just want to "teach the scouts a lesson" on respecting property, but like I said above, it wasn't even the scouts fault, just simply wear and tear.

Many of the parents with scouts in the troop are ready to break away and form our own troop.  But we would like to at least get funds that our scouts raised as well as the troop camping equipment (we could care less about the motor boat).

Edited by rubixcube
fixed typos

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Oh my! Welcome to the forum. The two best days of owning a boat: The first and the last.

5 minutes ago, rubixcube said:

Many of the parents with scouts in the troop are ready to break away and form our own troop. 

That's likely your best option.

8 minutes ago, rubixcube said:

But we would like to at least get funds that our scouts raised as well as the troop camping equipment (we could care less about the motor boat). 

I don't think you have much claim to that money. It's a sunk cost that's best forgotten. One thing you might do is set up individual scout accounts, make sure there's a policy that says if you change troops you can take your money to the new troop, and then leave. Not sure what the odds of that working are, though.

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Get as large a group of current parents as you can to contact the CC and express just how bad an idea you  collectively think this is.  I would also get in touch with the COR and do the dame thing.  Frankly, if the COR is as uninterested as you say than he may be MORE willing to intervene in something like this just because he doesn't want to start being bothered with issues.

As to your question, we invite any parent who is interested to come to our committee meetings and if we vote on something then they vote.

 

Edited by T2Eagle
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All of the troop's assets (including money raised or in bank accounts) actually belong to the charter organization.  Troop money is supposed to benefit the unit - not individuals.

The Troop Committee is not required to invite all parents to committee meetings.  In many troops, the members of the Troop Committee are the ones who vote, and the Scoutmaster is an advisor / non-voting member.  Different troops may choose to do things differently.  Like @T2Eagle, in my son's troop, we invite all interested parents to attend.  If we vote on something, we allow parents to vote.

The Chartered Org. Rep. can veto decisions by the Troop Committee (because the charter organization owns all of the assets and is one that takes the blame if the Troop Committee decides to do something in violation of the law, IRS rules, BSA rules, etc.).

Generally, individual Scout accounts are discouraged due to some recent rulings / decisions by the IRS.  (This is mainly aimed at fundraising and how unit fundraising is supposed to benefit the unit - not individual Scouts.)  However, units are allowed to track which Scouts owe for activities, etc.

"Funds raised by the unit from product sales belong to the unit.  They may not be transferred to the Scout or another unit, but may be re-assigned to units sponsored by the same chartered organization, such as when a Scout moves from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts or Boy Scouts to Venturing.  The unit committee is responsible for expenditures from unit funds for the benefit of the unit.  Unit funds may be used to reduce the cost of participation, including the cost of attending camp or obtaining uniforms. They may be used to provide financial assistance or awards to individual Scouts based upon their level of participation generally or in specific activities benefiting the unit, chartered organization or community, attendance, advancement and/or need. Unit funds may be used to buy equipment for the unit or for any other legitimate need of the unit." (BSA Product Sales Guide, page 9)

BSA Product Sales Guide

Fiscal Policies and Procedures for BSA Units FAQs

December 2014 CubCast - How to Handle Fundraising Dollars (also applies to other BSA units such as troops, crews, ships, etc.)

Bryan on Scouting: BSA offers guidance on individual Scout accounts

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Good comments so far.  Here are a few of my thoughts.

  • It's hard to judge this sort of thing from the outside.  
  • A 21' motor boat is a big luxury for a troop to use once or twice a year.  Depending the age and features, a $4000 repair could be 20% of the value or 120% of the value.  
    • I strongly question continuing to hold that asset.  
  • Broke due to misuse?   ... How?  It would help to have context ?  Boats are pretty durable generally and hard to break.  On the flip side, using boats have common accidents like running into docks, losing anchors, hitting rocks with propellers.  So it really makes me wonder what is misuse ?
  • Lots of experience in the troop committee and what they've achieved over the years probably attracted you and your scouts.  
  • Strictly speaking, scoutmasters and the ASMs are intentionally supposed to NOT have a vote.  That's the rule.  But, most troops allow it as most troops are run by a set of friends that work in friendly agreements.  Votes happen, but usually the votes don't happen on controversial issues where there are huge differences of opinion.  If that is normally an issue, then troops tend to fall apart because of internal differences. 

My questions though are ...

  • Do the committee members know some of the parents are upset ?  Do the committee members know that parents are chatting that this money is misused ?
  • Is there a chance for the troop to sell the boat?  IMHO, it seems like that is the best option.  If the boat was donated to the troop, then the troop can sell it.  
  • As for the spent money, it's in the past.  Now, you really need to make a choice of whether you can leave the issue in the past?  If not, move on.

KEY POINT - The time our children have in scouts is short.  It might seem long now, but the time goes quick.  I'd focus much less on this incident and much more on providing him the best scouting experience possible.  Don't let this issue damage his (or her now) experience.  Though you might disagree with the decision of the troop committee, it roughly sounds like they followed the right procedure and came to a reasonable decision.  The "misuse" issue is a distraction.  The boat is a troop asset that requires cost to maintain and run.  

If you want to make a difference, then build friendships with the committee members AND build an understanding and discussion with the committee members.  Get to know each other.  

Edited by fred8033
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Sounds like all involved need refresher training as to how a troop should operate.  Since your troop is chartered to a now-defunct entity, perhaps you don't have a troop at all.  Your DE needs to sort that out.  To answer your original question, NO...non-registered parents do not get a vote.  The registered members of the Troop Committee handle the "business end" of the unit, while the SM and ASMs execute the program side.  All registered leaders serve at the pleasure of the Chartered Organization (which you don't have).  Technically, all funds and equipment belong to the Chartered Organization (which you don't have).  The Troop's annual plan is developed by the PLC with guidance from the SM and ASMs.  They then present the plan to the Troop Committee for approval and funding.  In the case of the boat, it must be titled either to the Chartered Organization (which you don't have), OR an individual.  If it "technically belongs" to an individual who uses it for personal use 90% of the time, there is NO WAY that troop funds should be spent on it, except maybe to reimburse actual cost of fuel when the troop uses it.  That is analogous to expecting the troop to pay for all maintenance on my truck, because I use it to haul gear to camp twice a year.  Bottom line...your unit is broke.  Your Commissioner staff and DE should be called in to try to fix it...but non-registered parents have no standing, other than to vote with your feet.  And I guess it needs to be said once again...the establishment of "Scout Accounts" for the benefit of individuals is strictly against BSA policy and can run afoul of IRS regulations.

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Sounds like the troop should start a Sea Scouts Unit and focus on that boat monthly.

 

If its truly the Old timers show, I would cut losses and go to another troop or start your own.  Take the hit now and cut your losses.

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Committees are supposed to support the wants and needs determined by the PLC. Did the PLC ask for the boat to be fixed? As SM I always approach the committee with the idea that it is the scouts money and the committee does not vote on anything. They come to consensus with the decision provided back to the scouts.

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First, a lot of people need to take Troop Committee Challenge, or whatever National is calling it this week.  Committees are not democratic bodies, they are consensus or chairman’s decision bodies, acting on program needs the PLC and the SM present. 

Folks who want to sit in on committee meetings?  Sign them up!  You’ll have more YP trained adults that way. 

As to the boat... if the troop isnt on a lake in a year round boating environment, I’d say sell it.  It’s an expensive tool for limited use. 

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2 hours ago, John-in-KC said:

First, a lot of people need to take Troop Committee Challenge, or whatever National is calling it this week.  Committees are not democratic bodies, they are consensus or chairman’s decision bodies, acting on program needs the PLC and the SM present. 

It has been awhile since I took Troop Committee Challenge, but I just found a syllabus for it online, as well as a version of the Troop Committee Guidebook that is the 2000 printing, but I doubt the fundamentals of how the committee operates have changed since then.  They don't say that the committee MUST operate by voting, nor do they say the committee CANNOT operate by voting.  The only thing they say about voting is in the negative:  SM's and ASM's do not vote.  This implies that someone can vote, i.e. committee members, but it does not say what they get to vote on.  In fact, the chapter about committee meetings in the Troop Committee Guidebook is surprisingly brief and vague.  Someone in this forum once advanced the theory that the BSA intentionally leaves it up to each CO to decide how "democratic" the meetings will be, and in the absence of direction from the CO, how the committee operates is up to the committee itself.  I think that is correct.  In my troop committee, the committee almost always makes decisions by consensus, but I think that lurking in the background is the understanding that if there is no consensus on a given subject, there will be a vote.

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Thank you everyone for the replies.  Good advice in all of the posts for me to consider.

Answers to some questions that people asked:

  • The boat appears to be worth around $20,000 based on my limited online research on what similar used boats are being sold for.
  • The boat’s engine simply broke down.  The mechanic who looked at it recommended replacing the entire engine (the $4,000 cost) as he said that the engine was far past its life expectancy.  It was just a coincidence that it happened to stop working on the scout trip.
  • I don’t think there is any interest in selling the boat since the boat is mostly used for personal use, and they don’t want to give that up.
  • The committee members know that the parents are not happy, but I honestly believe that they just don’t care.  And yes, I fully admit that having a group of highly experienced troop committee members with strong connections to council was a big reason why we chose this troop in the first place.  But they just have this smugness where they believe that they know what is best for the troop, since they have been involved in scouting for so long and continue to be involved despite their boys being long aged out of the program.

 

Edited by rubixcube
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27 minutes ago, rubixcube said:

I don’t think there is any interest in selling the boat since the boat is mostly used for personal use, and they don’t want to give that up.

Kind of a long shot, but if the boat is mostly used for personal use, then figure out the ratio and say it's fair for those that used it for their own use to pay that share of the $4000.

How many scouts are in this troop and how much does the troop have in the bank? ($4k is huge for any troops I know of.) Also, what percentage of the families are upset about this?

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2 hours ago, MattR said:

Kind of a long shot, but if the boat is mostly used for personal use, then figure out the ratio and say it's fair for those that used it for their own use to pay that share of the $4000.

How many scouts are in this troop and how much does the troop have in the bank? ($4k is huge for any troops I know of.) Also, what percentage of the families are upset about this?

Saying this another way:  if the boat is owned by an individual Scouter (not the troop), but that Scouter lets the Scouts use it a couple times a year, then the burden of repairing an old, broken down engine should not fall entirely on the troop.  It might be reasonable for the troop to pitch in and pay something based on how often the troop uses the boat vs. how often the Scouter uses it for private use.

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3 hours ago, rubixcube said:

Thank you everyone for the replies.  Good advice in all of the posts for me to consider.

Answers to some questions that people asked:

  • The boat appears to be worth around $20,000 based on my limited online research on what similar used boats are being sold for.
  • The boat’s engine simply broke down.  The mechanic who looked at it recommended replacing the entire engine (the $4,000 cost) as he said that the engine was far past its life expectancy.  It was just a coincidence that it happened to stop working on the scout trip.
  • I don’t think there is any interest in selling the boat since the boat is mostly used for personal use, and they don’t want to give that up.
  • The committee members know that the parents are not happy, but I honestly believe that they just don’t care.  And yes, I fully admit that having a group of highly experienced troop committee members with strong connections to council was a big reason why we chose this troop in the first place.  But they just have this smugness where they believe that they know what is best for the troop, since they have been involved in scouting for so long and continue to be involved despite their boys being long aged out of the program.

 

$20,000 !!!!   Are you sure that's not the cost for a NEW version?  Old boats lose value quickly.  If it is worth $20,000, that is a ridiculous asset for a troop to carry.  It sounds like this is a nebulous position on whether it's a personal vehicle (titled to a individual, used mostly for personal use) or a troop owned asset (not titled to charter org, used once a year).  

New motor boat engines for a 20+ foot boat is worth more than $4000.  Often, the engine is worth the same as the boat.  Perhaps this is an in-board motor that is really a car engine mounted in a boat.  

See if you can smile and let this go.  If you rented a boat, you'd be paying $1000 per day for such a vehicle.  Boats are expensive period ... to buy, to operate, to repair.  

 

 

 

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Lots of issues here.  If the church is dissolved, who does your Troop really belong to?  DE and Council need to be advised and consulted. 

In my home Troop's case, whoever shows up (except for SM and ASMs, ) to the Committee meeting ARE the committee. Registered?  How do you gauge that?  If you would support the Troop, you show up. 

 

Let the owner take care of his own boat. Thank him for his "support of Scouting" with a plaque and testimonial dinner. 

$4,000. will buy at least 5 ABS canoes and needed gear. Paddles, PFDs, waterproofs, rope, cartop racks, and MAYBE even a rack and shed to store things in and on. The start of a really good canoeing program and a "specialist" Troop... You might become famous in your area ! 

The Scouts want to go boating,  let'm propel themselves.   Canoeing MB is a fun thing. What rivers and lakes are nearby?  

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