Extraordinary Meeting Minutes
EB vs FCO Presentation [link broken]
Apologies: GZ, JF, PJ, CA, EE, Frisbee, RM, OMC, AW, LM, JR, ZM, SB, DV, KU, PA
Setting: A semi crowded dining room. With Pizza.
Need for Change (AK)
FCO vs Outsourcing Referendum (AK)
FCO Motion (EC)
Floor opens to questions
Need for Change (AK)
AK: We became this type of charity in 2014, and since then we have never had our accounts in on time. The trustees are liable, and we need to change to make sure they aren’t at risk, and we don’t have to shut down.
We presented the trustees with 3 options, they vetoed one of them, and now we are voting on the other two.
When we look at the benefits of both options, we should be measuring them against our charitable aims, but also evaluate whether it’s worth the money.
FCO vs Outsourcing Referendum (AK)
AZKthen works through the attached power point which goes into the details of the two options.
Points she expanded on:
The prices estimated for the cost of external bookkeeper are including the JCR subsidising a live-in treasurer on the bailey for 52 weeks a year, at a rate of £100 a week (similar to what a student would be paying to live out in Durham city).
The price estimates for the FCO are correct on the presentation rather than the literature circulated because CF (Bursar) has lowered his estimate for student accommodation.
The election for either FCO or Treasurer will still be on the 10th of February.
FCO Motion (EC)
This JCR Notes:
• The current role of treasurer has been deemed, by the trustees, insufficient to ensure the charity is consistently charity commission compliant.
• The trustees have mandated that an external bookkeeper must be used to assist the treasurer for the calendar year.
• Different options for the long-term bookkeeping have been discussed with the trustees, with the two viable options as follows:
o to carry on with external bookkeeping after the calendar year, or
o to instate a second sabbatical officer to take on the role of treasurer, as well taking on other tasks.
This JCR Believes:
• The creation of a second sabbatical role in the place of Treasurer would ensure that our accounts were handed in on time helping to make the JCR charity more charity commission compliant.
• The creation of a Finances and Compliance Officer (FCO) would improve the charity as a whole. A sabbatical officer, rather than a student volunteer would have the time to oversee overall charity compliance, rather than just financial compliance, e.g. GDPR compliance.
• That the cost of an FCO would lead to multiple improvements in student experience such as the completion of larger projects, or faster/better execution of current tasks e.g. daily reclaims.
• That the position of FCO would contribute towards creating and working towards a long-term vision for the charity, rather than ‘getting by’.
This JCR Resolves:
• That the role of Treasurer shall become the role of Finances and Compliance Officer and that this shall be a sabbatical role.
This JCR Repeals:
• Positions in the JCR Order 3.4
This JCR Orders:
• Positions in the JCR Order:
3.4 The Finances and Compliance Officer (FCO), Meeting 2.1, LI-P, Method 1
3.4.1 Their duties shall be to:
1) Keep the JCR financial records, they shall present the JCR and Society Council, and shall ensure their accuracy, integrity and comprehensiveness;
2) Oversee the expenditure of all JCR funds and account for this expenditure to the JCR and trustees (plus college Advisory Board if required).
3) To draw up a budget for the Financial Year which shall be presented to the JCR at the penultimate General Meeting of Easter Term as a financial motion for approval.
4) To submit accounts for the year to date at the next General Meeting as a financial motion for approval at the end of each financial quarter.
5) To draw up the JCR’s accounts at the end of the calendar year, and to present them to the JCR at the first General Meeting of Epiphany Term as a financial motion for approval.
6) To work through the charity’s records each year to ensure GDPR compliance.
7) To look into sponsorship opportunities and viable investment opportunities for the charity reserves.
8) Perform other reasonable duties as required;
3.4.2 The FCO, with the approval of Finance Committee, may delegate responsibility for the management of particular budgets or bank accounts to a specified member of Finance Committee.
3.4.3 They shall live in Society accommodation at Parson’s Field;
3.4.4 The JCR will pay any Council Tax and rent the FCO is liable for as a result of living in Society accommodation.
3.4.5 They shall receive a wage in line with the National Minimum Wage, as stipulated in the FCO Contract of Service;
1) The FCO must sign the FCO Contract of Service which shall be counter-signed by the Trustees on the JCR’s behalf.
3.4.6 A copy of the FCO Contract of Service shall be appended to this Order.
• That any other mention of ‘Treasurer’ in any of the standing orders be amended to be the ‘FCO’.
– So before we move on I’d like to just clarify a few things about the actual voting process.
– This is a referendum with two choices: to create an FCO Sabbatical position or to externalise the bookkeeping aspect of the Treasurer’s role.
– It will be an online vote, the link will be posted a few times on all the freshers pages or you can access it through the duo site. All the information documents will be found on the voting site too, but I’ll be posting these again because who doesn’t love a JCR facebook notification.
– It will be extremely obvious how to vote for your chosen decision. The options will be:
o Aye (yes). A Finance and Compliance Officer position will be created.
o Nay (no). The bookkeeping aspect of the Treasurer’s position will be outsourced.
– I’d just like to quickly explain the wording of that. So, for the remainder of this year, to keep the trustees happy, we are bringing in an external bookkeeper to help us out. Therefore, if you vote against the FCO, this will just continue. Voting for the FCO position would create change, and this is why the motion favours that change.
– But please consider this as the referendum it is
Floor opens to questions
C?: What guarantees the students taking on the FCO role are qualified?
AK: They would get training. And it’s the same as it’s always been for a student treasurer- students do fine accounts, but then fail when it comes to the deadline because their degrees mean they are not in on time. They would also get GDPR training and the role is more about admin than anything really hard. You don’t need talent, you just need to get it done.
JG: Could a student take on the role of GDPR officer?
AK: Yes, that is possible, it’s just a case of whether anyone would want to. I think it’s more appealing as part of the FCO role.
CW: Why would the treasurer live in if we had an external bookkeeper?
AK: The trustees are VERY keen for this. There are benefits to complying with the cash handling policies, they are closer to the President and have better lines of communication.
CW: So why would the FCO live in Brooks?
AK: College have said we can have a room 2k cheaper. They also want a sab on the other side to have a presence over there considering its where most freshers are. Then we would also have an office for FCO and President on the Bailey so they would be there for the working day. Because they are working full time, being at Brooks wouldn’t be such an impact to them as it would a student treasurer who has a degree and would have to walk around a lot.
MP: I don’t think it’s that bad to have to make a few more JCR roles because there are others we can get rid of. Some roles do a lot more than other ones.
AK: The main issue with having lots of other positions is that we shouldn’t be relying on just students to sort all of the legal things and GDPR compliance. It’s dangerous to rely on students as they may also not run for these niche roles.
OW: GDPR is important, it’s a massive job, and if you don’t do it the UK is really tightening up on these rules. I’d be wary of giving it to a student who also had a degree. Who would pay for it if one person messed up with that?
AK: the JCR as a whole or the Trustees. We need 3 trustees at any point to function, and if the ones we have are being fined, then we won’t be able to attract new ones.
JC: You say the extra money for FCO will come from the budget. It’s an extra £8 per person per year. We could save that money and spend it on something else for students.
EM: What would you like to spend it on?
JC: Sports and Societies or Events.
CW: I read the document. I’m not sure there is much of a tangible benefit of a FCO. In terms of accountability, wouldn’t it be better to have one firm. There is only so much one person could do in a year and FCO would keep chopping and changing each year. Especially when the accountant would be 8 times cheaper.
AK: It would only be half as cheap. Continuity is important, but if the accounts are better from the year before then that shouldn’t be an issue for students to keep taking it over. I don’t know how to translate this, but lots of the problems we come up with more man power.
AB: Regarding continuity, we are a JCR that completely changes every few years, there are lots of changes to how sports and socs etc are run fairly frequently. A FCO could adapt to that more easily than an accountant could as they are on the ground and see the bigger picture. Also, the accountants might not have the same employee working on the books all the time. We’d have no way of knowing.
SWC: There is in-house continuity, so it might be better to keep it in house. Even though the external bookkeeper would only be doing bookkeeping, the treasurer would still have to deal with the accountant a lot. I am a trustee; and our last meeting was 5 hours long. There is a lot we need to do. And there is a lot the FCO could do, I promise. There is a huge tangible benefit, or we couldn’t have approved it as an option.
AB: No one in college have felt cuts too badly so far, the cuts shouldn’t impact people on the ground, that extra £9 would be so so worth it if, for some reason, the president couldn’t do their role.
CW: I meant the FCO has the primary benefits we need but is more about the secondary benefits. Where as the external does a more solid job for the primary benefits.
AK: The trustees have said that either option would satisfy the main objectives.
BS: Regarding the fact the FCO is sabbatical. What would you do if no one ran?
AK: This could be said about President or treasurer now. We hope that this role will appeal to mathsy/finance people, it’s an appealing role because of work experience. Stockton are coming over so we have lots of accountancy and finance freshers coming over.
EuM: Would either option increase the levy?
AK: FCO would increase the levy by £3, but we hope that’s small enough to for people to manage. With a FCO, we would be able to work out different payment options for people who couldn’t manage it and track it so it would be less of a burden for disadvantage students.
EuM: People pay for it and forget it now, but if you offer termly, people might just stop paying. How could you deal with that?
AK: Other colleges say people are mostly happy to pay one lump sum. Parents are often even more pushy about paying it than students on move in day. Hopefully this option would just help those who really needed it.
TP: Would current students be asked to increase their levies?
JC: There are colleges without any sabbatical officers- we’d be fine if out president was ill for a few months.
AK: The non-sabb Presidents I know are trying to become sabbatical. Further, none of them are independent JCRs so they have college to support them. Stevenson have lost their Sabbatical and are now paying 5 students to pick up the pieces rather than getting one non-sabb. We can get by with one sabb, but we are not making any progress. Presidents work way more than their contracts say they are meant to, we only had a full trustee board last year, we don’t have a long term direction, we aren’t fully functioning. The JCR is a wounded animal and we need more people at the top to help.
EC: A sabb is someone who has graduated and employed by us, for clarification.
JG: If the FCO would take up miscellaneous tasks, does this mean there isn’t enough work for a 9-5? It should be contracted what they do, not on miscellaneous tasks.
AK: You could say the same about my job. There is a lot of extra time that presidents put in that is outside their contract. The work load will exist. There is always work that can be done. EM and I thought about starting next year with a 4 day contract and see how that worked, then added in another one to the contact if it was needed.
EM: Full Sports and Socs enrichment Wednesdays.
JG: What if they aren’t a JCR member- they can’t do Sports and Socs.
AK: I don’t have a JCR membership.
JG: Do you think people would apply if it’s a 4-day-week role?
AK: I didn’t apply for the role for the money, they do it because they love the JCR. There will be lots of people who might not know what they want to do beyond Uni and might want to do it for experience and to stay rather than for the pay.
DT: Back to BS’s point about no one running. What would actually happen?
AK: It just keeps getting run and then we do what Stevenson did.
RJ: Can you open up the position to other colleges?
EC: That isn’t in the standing orders at the moment.
DT: Is this too much power for a recently graduated student?
AK: Could say the same for president. If finances and compliance are their primary functions then it’s manageable.
MP: If someone gets this role and then is bad, we can’t do much about it, but we can do something about external bookkeeper if we aren’t satisfied. We can’t get a new one really.
AK: They are on a contract so they have to work really. Also, people run because they really want to. People dropping out of their JCR roles is nearly always because of degree pressure. We do have the trustees to oversee everything. The FCO would have to show their work. We have a finance trustee committee to support them as well so their work would be up to standard.
SW: If no one is elected, could we have the option as a bookkeeper then?
AK: Yeah, we could do that.
EC: If we got an FCO, there would be a bookkeeper there at the beginning anyway so it would be okay this year. But it is an option.
SM: If the primary aim is to be compliant, why would you not want to go with the professionals?
AK: Because having a FCO solves this problem but would also do so much more.
EM: It would be easier to go from having a FCO, then realising there wasn’t enough work for them once accounts were in order and then not electing one and taking up a bookkeeper than it would be to get rid of a bookkeeper and then elect a FCO as there wouldn’t be a great handover. The accountants would want our business.
R?: If the FCO doesn’t get passed, do we have a contingency plan?
JC: You say the FCO could look into sponsorship and investment. There have been two people treasures who have done that. Why couldn’t we get an external bookkeeper and then an inhouse treasurer could do that.
AK: Not every student treasurer has enough time for all of that, so it depends yearly on the other degree pressures the student treasurer had.
TP: If investment and sponsorship was an additional part might a FCO not have time either.
AK: They have a contract and hours in the week so it’s much more likely. At the moment the exec are only meant to work on their roles for 8 hours a week – but some are doing a lot more than that, treasurer being one.
CW: With the online doc, can you get rid of the critical evaluation numbers as they are very subjective? I don’t feel like it was unbiased.
AK: I can, but there is reason we have out views. Me, EM and AB have sat in all the meetings so have quite strong views about this topic based on hours and hours of meetings. Also, that doc has been through all the exec some of whom are for and some who are against this.
EM: I think it’s okay for us to be subjective because we have been privy to more information.
AK: The people who are most engaged about this topic in the exec where the people who disagreed with me and I did add in all of their comments to the document.