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Pacifica National Finance Committee (NFC) meeting notes

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These meeting notes are unofficial.
Official PNB minutes posted at pacifica.org

Audio Archive at www.kpftx.org

These notes paraphrase statements made by attendees at the meeting (almost three hours). Most was done in one listen, so there may be some inaccuracies. To find out the exact words, listen to the audio at www.kpftx.org

- Written by James Ross, wbai.net contributor

Meeting via teleconference


  1. ED reports that staff/management have "implementation issues" with the series of motions the PNB passed on 12/20/04 requiring management to provide detailed financial info, including monthly headcount, payouts to all individuals, etc., to NFC. Staff/Managment will respond in writing by next NFC meeting as to what the issues are. Disagreement about how difficult it should be to work up this info.
  2. WBAI treasurer reports that the monthly MEMSYS report has been made available to him. This is one of the documents included in the PNB motions of 12/20/04
  3. Motion passes that PNB/NFC members will not request any info from station business managers for next two weeks.
  4. CFO reports again on aging subscribership. Revenue is flat this year, though it had risen for the past few years. CFO states need to develop new revenuse strategy. Cites National Office success with direct mail to lists purchased from Green Party, ACLU. CFO wants NFC to think about new revenue sources.
  5. KPFA not doing as well as in past years -- less money, higher payroll. Tattersall mentions talk of staff cuts.
  6. KPFK and WPFW doing well financially
  7. KPFT has lost listenership. discussion of impact on CPB funds (no one knows).
  8. WBAI total projection is negative 79K on income (actually I believe that's YTD actuals vs YTD budget). However, WBAI has cut expenses, by maybe 20-50K/month, according to CFO. No clear answer where these cuts happened.
  9. $48K negative variance between actual and budgeted spending noted in national office gross salary line.
  10. Likely that FSRN will become more expensive if it is taken in-house (as planned?) because Pacifica will pay benefits.
  11. Still no presentation of "WBAI recovery plan" from CFO to NFC (this was requested in a previous meeting).

-roll call
-review PNB resolutions
-cfo report
-review 11/12 financials
-WBAI budget update
-approval of minutes
-review of previous action items
-nominations for chair and secretary


Warren Turner (treasurer, WPFW LSB) absent
Mark Roberts (PNB, WPFW) absent
Sandy Weinman (treasurer, KPFT LSB) present
Mike Martin (PNB, KPFT) present
Marnie Tattersall (treasurer, KPFA LSB) present
LaVarn Williams (PNB, KPFA) present
Baruti Bediako (treasurer, WBAI LSB) present
Patty Heffley (PNB, WBAI) present
Casey Mcfall (treasurer, KPFK LSB) present
Dave Adelson (PNB, KPFK) present
Lonnie Hicks (CFO) present
Dan Coughlin (ED) present

Review of PNB resolutions re reporting of financial info

(Background: background -- the PNB passed a series of motions on 12/20/04 directing Pacifica management to provide information to the PNB, including monthly reports of who got paid and how much at each unit (station, national office, and Pacifica archives), monthly reports on membership and fund drives, notes explaining variances between budgeted and actual spending, reports on unbudgeted transfers between units, and other items. As of 2/4/05 none of this information had been provided.)

coughlin: GMs and business mgrs are working on resolutions, have some issues on implementation, want to share w/ NFC and PNB

adleson: what are the issues?

coughlin: won't say. fundraising is a priority. will get to concerns asap.

martin: what do you mean by implementation issues?

coughlin: there are specific requests to business manager. there are a lot of line items, eg.

martin: maybe NFC help out in identifying variances if it has spending info.

hicks: that may be helpful

adelson: point of motion was that NFC doesn't spend time on that on call, but just has notes. some of variances are very explicable, cause costs and income are distributed equally throughout year, but money comes and goes episodically.

williams: concerned that this will still be under debate in June. need to talk to the people directly to work something out to get the info sooner.

coughlin: make sure implementation makes sense at local level.

martin: agree with williams. need to expedite.

williams: propose that NFC members go to business mgrs, see what their concerns are, so resolution can be reached asap.

adelson: NFC is appropriate place to work out implementation issues. meets every two weeks. cte can communicate on list. hope to resolve issues in next NFC meeting.

hicks: secondary issue. what is the level of detail NFC is going to be involved in? doesn't want NFC get bogged down in excessive detail. focus on major issues that face network.

mcfall: don't understand how can avoid detail if info is not forthcoming. cannot address big issues w/o info.

bediako: propose that managers explain how much work it is to comply w/ resolution re expense side. worked on income side. managers should quantify where possible.

hicks: need to get a sense of implementation issues. we all want the info.

adelson: need written notes of variances so there is a long term record, saves time. local [e.g. KPFK] budget had written notes. Also, PNB resolutions include very clear and easy things to comply with -- memsys [software that tracks membership], headcount , income statement, etc. don't get bogged down in meaningless stuff. are managers' objections that there is too much meaningless work or are they substantive objections? need to see letter from staff.

martin: devil is in details. need to look at line items. doens't want to bog staff down w/ meaningless work.

adleson: want to move agenda, w/ proviso that this be an agenda item for next time. get as many points of agreement, work out action plan where there is difference of opinion.

heffley: PNB motions (memsys, headcount) -- how difficult are they to implement? we are supposed to go to business mgr and get that. Can I do it?

adelson: understands that motions' intent was that treasurer gets memsys.

bediako: WBAI treasurer has memsys report, looked at in WBAI finance cte.

adelson: NFC get monthly headcounts from business mgr

williams: can PNB members of NFC go straight to business manager for headcount reports.

adelson: that is the intent of the motion.

williams: is there an issue with me going to busisness mgr and getting that?

hicks: let's wait for letter from mgr/staff -- we may be talking a week.

williams: this is not satisfactory -- headcount report is already produced -- no extra work

hicks: that's not accurate. some stations don't produce that as a matter of course. they have to tool up to do it.

tattersall: headcount is not easy anywhere. KPFA business mgr may not have it ready.

martin: why?

tattersall: cause it involves people, not just money

mcfall: non-profit accting requires FTE (full-time equivalent), some are spread around. But how can one do pay roll w/o headcount?

martin: mcfall right, esp w/ salaries paid out of grants, where need accountability.

williams: yes, this is automatic non-profit procedure.

hicks: it depends on the non-profit. not automatic and easy. involves volunteers. FTEs is a different set of data.

adleson: doesn't include volunteers

hicks: still it's a different set of data.

martin: wants to know if people are not tracking headcount as a matter of course.

hicks: there is a division of labor, local station does some, national office some. don't have answers. "I'm not trying to be evasive."

heffley: must be columns in books for paying individuals under 1099, w-2s, can be sorted. should be accessible.

adelson: doesn't see any issue w/ NFC members talking to business managers. wants to revisit in concrete terms next call once have letter

hicks: does not support that any member of NFC can get data from business manager. inviting chaos! structure exists for PNB to handle financial info in an orderly way. we are deviateing from that structure.

adelson: motion says there should be provision of data by business manager.

coughlin: great discussion. need to look at resolutions w/impact on staff and mgrs. need to get input from these "stakeholders" to implement resolutions better.

martin: these requests are not off the wall.

hicks: give us a little time.

coughlin: need to point out extraordinary reports managers staff is already providing. info above and beyond what bylaws calls for. need to make sure they can do their primary jobs. important that we support our staffs

heffley: the comment that the info is above and beyond the bylaws is irrelevant. the PNB is entitled to get the info they need to understand the foundation. hopes to hear w/in week why it's difficult to get this info.

bediako: move to hold off recommendations til we get report why it's difficult.

williams: does not support motion. it is not coridal to imply that there is some nefarious intent to information request. more information will help Pacifica, CFO, and everyone else. supports discussion betw board members and business members rather than rely on letter alone. need to have a level of trust. it is not wrong to request info.

bediako: WBAI is in fund drive. two weeks not a big deal.

adelson: does not support motion. does not support prohibition of communication. all NFC members can speak cordially w/ business manager. to prohibit communication with staff is not good.

hicks: understands that we hold off for two weeks, and let those folks get there stuff together. some of it is doable, need to look at impacts.

bediako: MOTION is -- we hold off making requests to business mger for two weeks.

adelson: can cte members discuss this stuff w/ business managers?

bediako: MOTION (clarified) -- directors and NFC members can talk to business managers but not request info for two weeks

weinmann y
martin y
tattersall y
williams n
baruti y
heffley n
mcfall n
hicks y

motion carries.

CFO Report and review of November-December financials

adelson: no balance sheets on website since august. do we have it?

hicks: delay in posting. NFC members have the info.

martin: can you send it again?

hicks: yes

hicks report: What is consolidated income statement. look at station's quarterly results. states what current results are monthly. second is YTD. third part is forecast.

also is cash and capital report. It identifies capital outlays.

Our revenues have been flat though high compared to previous yrs -- 8 mill for 2001, 13 mill in prev yr. last yr had record revenues. not this yr.

50% of our revenue has been existing listeners increasing their gifts. also incresaed membership. Aging membership. people listen at home, not in car, etc. Challenge is to replace aging listenership.

Now we are penetrating ethnic communities. need to bring in youth. need more off-air fundraising that involves community.

must develop new revenue strategy. We have done mail drops to other progressive orgs list gave us half a million last year.

modernize our plant -- need to be multi-platform. don't get stuck in analog mode in digital world (??)

KPFA has lost listenership revenue -- maybe 200K by yr end. met with staff to strategize with KPFA people to deal with this. KPFA has always had record drives in the past. they will deal with shortfall by not spending 150K on physical plant.

KPFK looks good. negotiations re contracts

WPFW record revenue this yr.

v KPFT -- there are issues. have lost 20-30% of listenership in last yr. need short-term solutions. project 50K drop in $ in yr. look to web income.

Martin: can that jeopardize CPB funding

HIcks: maybe, since CPB looks at audience data, among other things.

weinmann: if we fall below 100K cume, do we lose funding entirely?

hicks: CPB has an arcane formula. but they don't tell ya.

adelson: this stems from heatlhy station project. Unless you know what the threshhold is, it's hard to say.

hicks (continue with report):

national office -- paid for legal bills by doing mail drops to Green party, ACLU lists. last year needed 400K more than we had. will have to do this again this year.

archives -- had successful on-air drive -- but on-air dollars are more difficult to get. drives are extending at some stations.

what to do -- in shrinking revenue scenario -- need to cut expenses. some problem areas:

Salaries -- Union contracts are falling due. WBAI under negotiation now. will increase costs.

health and benefits -- we pay 100% of benefits, increase costs every year.

operating costs around premiums --

last LSB election was $300K

(end of hour 1)

all stations have to look a cost reductions "we're at that point, talking to each station." will come back at next NFC mtg w info on cost reductions at the stations.

stations that have traditionally been revenue sources are not doing that.

need brainpower of NFC to figure out what to do. Need large-dollar, replicable inputs.

(McFall leaves call, williams serves as secretary)

martin: will there be a windfall due to no elections this year.

hicks: we are still paying for elections last yr -- cost 50K more than last yr. orig budget was $120K, really cost $300K or more. windfall is that after this year, no more legal bills.

adelson: increased donations due to larger donations, not more listeners. extra money gets eaten up by staffing. we need to look at volunteering. need to fund projects in a different way than the salary.

also issues of overhead. for every million in budget, need an additional person in finance office, according to the CFO. how to be more efficient.

hicks: need to review our business model. need to diversify our revenue sources. need to prioritize revenue-producing positions and mission-based positions. need to include in our model other organizations and community orgs (as opposed to basic membership organization) -- increase stake holders.

weinmann: KPFT is a microcosm. dropped 40% in listenership in past three years, but have some record-breaking fund drives. need to think who we are appealing. Need to build an audience w/great radio. We are failing at this now. outside fundraising is great, but not a panacea. need programming that makes sense for today. and builds audience.

tattersall: is it possible that for FY 06 can plan that staff pays part for health insurance?

hicks: need to look at it. but our positions are low paid, benefits are an attraction.

adelson: response to weinman -- can't extrapolate that KPFT is microcosm. KPFK has historic highs in membership and fundraising. need to apprehend full situation. Also some of these issues are the purview of other committees.

heffley: WBAI LSB passed motion that union contracts must be approved by PNB upon recommendation by LSB, as GM is leaving. So governance can oversee contracts.

v tattersall: KPFA has serious problems with revenue being off; expenses higher in salary area. talks w/ GM, need to make hard decisions and make some cuts.

adelson: how are cuts done, given union contract. how much of work force is unionized?

hicks: GM and business manager and he identified variances that were most troublesome. department heads et al decide that lisntener support could be raised a little, but not too much (lengthen drive is counter productive). discuss major donor stuff.

identify $30,000 in expenses (salaries) also office expenses.

williams: re forecast of listener support there is a positive variance of 100K. ?? how is forecast done? will you use a standard accounting practice for forecast?

hicks: each station does a cash flow projection. based on bank statement. monthly forecasts are predictable. but further than that is questionable. Cash flow projections can indicate problem in summer.

martin: quick question about national office variance.

hicks: natl office has cash flow problem, cause it gets money 30 days after drive. Mail drops are the reason for positive variance in nat office budget v actuals. also legal demands are less.

adleson: but weren't legal bills included in budget?

hicks: but we had to pay legal bills before monies came from stations.

williams: gross salaries YTD in natl office are off 48K, is that due to higher salaries or more people?

(problem, cause people seem to have different documents -- problem is cleared up)

williams: insurance expenses?

hicks: insurance is a nightmare. difficult to predict. need to find money for increased money. Paid out national office. workers comp very high in CA.

martin: health insurance too, no?

hicks: up 20% yr.

martin: what about medical savings accounts?

hicks: trying to institute a 125 plan. would be for management, since unions have their own plans.

williams: back to nat office salaries, why a 48 K variance YTD?

hicks: let me get the file.

WBAI Report

Hicks: on to WBAI. (looks at file) negative variance in Dec. listener support. negative variance in listener support of 70K as of 12/31. There is a positive variance in listener support in full year forecast, because WBAI has higher goals later in FY.

adelson: ??? thought I heard you say that outside fundraising would make up for weakness in listener support.

hicks: what I was saying is that first drive goal was lower than drives two and three. however, they expect 200K in major donations. that does not seem to be happening. total projection is negative 79K on income.

bediako: major donor thing may be a posting issue.

(discussion of the file)

bediako: still projects a surplus at end of year.

hicks: one month expense in about 299K for WBAI.

adelson: PNB must waive 1 month surplus requirement

hicks: I have to go to all the stations and strategize around how do deal with lack of one-month surplus.

adelson: has WBAI cut expenses?

hicks: yes.

adelson: where?

hicks: compare to last yr. they spent 306k/mo.

adelson: looks like main cut is in FSRN

hicks: this yr WBAI spends 250-280K/mo.

heffley: what is the source of these cuts?

hicks: telephone bills cut, consultants were 6000K ytd. last yr they put hourlies in there. they put drive workers on consutlant line item.

heffley: consultants from last year moved to salaries and related. who are they? will this show up when we get head counts?

hicks: if they were moved into salaries, it doesn't show -- no big variances in salaries.

adelson: gain backs in administrative column. Particularly notable is tower rent and office rent -- budgeted at 21K and 23K respectively, zero spent.

bediako: last month we were overbudget, three months were posted in two months.

adelson: YTD column is most important. notice that bank charges over, programiing servies over.

(end of hour 2)

(discussion of where in the documents the correct info is)

hicks: "bank charges" are credit card fees.

adleson: made up 30K on programming expenses.

bediako: do all stations get the benefit from FSRN? all get same level of savings?

hicks: yes

williams: is FSRN an accrual that has not been done? do you take expenses into national and then transfer out of national?

hicks: FSRN paid out of national -- no cash transfer

williams: are charges to FSRN not yet paid, or is there some positive variance?

hicks: FSRN paid out of national -- it's always a wash.

adelson: project that FSRN expenses go up. Was this projection the basis of the budget?

hicks: budget made under old projection.

adelson: idea of new projection was then when FSRN brought in house, expenses will rise.

hicks: yes.

baediako: will charges be retroactive?

hicks: likely that increases will eat up savings.

adelson: Pacifica is fully aware that costs go up if they go in house. driver of this negotiation is that pacifica will be paying benes for FSRN staff.

adelson: FSRN negotiation is pending.

Williams: can we go back to the 48K salary variance in national office.

hicks: see only a 19K variance.

williams: looking at gross salaries, not total salary and related. why is this?

hicks: don't have that info on the tip of the tongue. will check.

williams: this is why we really need to see a headcount.

adelson: status of contingency plan at WBAI?

hicks: WBAI bounces back 94K on MLK day. drive is now 40K off. contingency plan is still in place.

heffley: tally 1/24 -2/2 372K w/ MLK 464K -- 42K per day w/ mlk, 37K w/o MLK. Still this leaves us w. 85 days of fundraising this yr.

hicks: last day of last drive they made it up.

adelson: as I recall, we talked about discussing what that contingency plan is.

hicks: don't remember that, dave.

adelson: document entitled WBAI recovery plan has no specifics

hicks: plan calls for looking at reducing operating expenses. salaries as last resort. plan for costs of any layoffs. revenue shortfalls will determine how many get let go. From 6 to half the staff.

Approval of Minutes

williams move to accept minutes of 1/11/05.

bediako has a spelling correction.

12/28 minutes not yet approved or finalized. will be done next time.

1/11/05 minutes approved

Action items

heffley reads action items (from where?): provide real estate contact from williams , provide breakdown of consultant costs and procurement procedures, quarterly forecast by lonnie, report by adelson to PNB

Williams: does not yet have contact info yet.

adelson: report on consultant costs, lonnie?

v hicks: last time was $5000, now up to $6400. has a chart he can send along. From Indra [Indra hardat, WBAI business manager].

adelson: yes, please send. will email his report at PNB meeting.

Nomination of Officers for NFC

adelson: mcfall is treasurer pro tem for kpfk.

williams: nominate martin for chair.

hicks: nominate tattersall for chair.

tattersall declines.

tattersall: can people from wpfw be nominated? [answer yes] nominates roberts.

adelson: suggest that martin be chair pro tem, hold off on permanent election til next time when roberts is here.

[no objection]

adelson: nominate mcfall for NFC secretary.

schedule next meeting

adelson: suggest 2/18, same time.


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