ALA Council

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Response from BARC regarding the resolution on financial autonomy

  • 1.  Response from BARC regarding the resolution on financial autonomy

    Posted Jun 26, 2020 01:41 PM

    Per its duty to consider and then advise Council on resolutions that may have fiscal implications for the association, BARC has discussed the proposed resolution on financial autonomy and collaboration among ALA management and divisions and round tables.  I have shared the response first with the movers of the resolution as well as with ALA executive director Tracie Hall, and now I am pasting it below.  I will also speak to it in Council III tomorrow.

    The discussion was based on the most recent iteration of the resolution at the time of discussion.  A newer version removes language related to defining a fiscal crisis.  The BARC discussion did not center on that particular phrase, and the deletion of it in the updated resolution does not change the substance of the summary I am sharing.

    Thank you,

    Response from BARC to the Resolution on Financial Autonomy and Collaboration among ALA Management and Divisions and Roundtables 

    BARC met on June 23, 2020 to discuss a resolution forwarded by the Resolutions Committee.  Resolution movers Jennifer Boettcher and Dorcas Hand were present for the meeting.

    BARC expressed concern about the whereas clauses in the resolution.  They do not accurately characterize the availability of funds to the divisions and roundtables, and they reflect confusion over generally accepted accounting principles and cash accounting.  Council does not debate the whereas clauses, but they are part of the record with any resolution that passes.  Council should be aware that in this case, those clauses misrepresent processes that have happened and that are currently in place in the association.

    BARC foresees certain, unwelcome impacts that would result should this resolution be passed:

    • The resolution adds layers of bureaucracy – which means time and resources spent on implementing that bureaucracy – to a process by requiring a series of signatures. This also detracts from the ability of the executive director to manage operations on the staff side of ALA.
    • The resolution forces an approach to budgeting within ALA that essentially reduces the association to budgeting using only partial dollars, unable to commit to spending 25% or more of its budget.
    • The resolution sets up a situation whereby ALA and every division and roundtable would need to ensure that the budget is fully supported with a cash balance at the beginning of the budget year. This is not feasible, nor is it an approach found in most of our own libraries.  This would lead to ALA needing to turn to its line of credit more than it has or than it should.  This, in turn, would lead to greater operating costs.  It could also result in higher overhead costs for the divisions and the round tables.

    In short, the outcome of this resolution would be to impede optimal budgeting for the association.

    BARC appreciates the sentiment behind the resolution, the wish for increased and improved communication.  What this resolution does, however, is mandate permissions, not communication.  The resolution does not create or change policy but instead inserts Council into operational processes in the association.

    Based on the budgetary obstacles that this resolution would create, BARC recommends that Council not pass it.  BARC instead suggests that the working group on the operating agreement, which will soon begin its work, is best suited to address consideration of the budgetary relationships of the divisions, the roundtables, and the overall association to take place.  We do not feel that a resolution is needed to refer this matter to the working group.  Instead, it may simply be communicated to them in the wake of the Council meeting.

    Peter Hepburn
    Head Librarian
    College of the Canyons