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Alameda Council Potential Merger - Town Hall Meeting - Questions Answered

Alameda Council hosted an important "Town Hall" meeting on Thursday, March 12 to discuss the next century of Scouting in Alameda. Thanks to all the Scouting leaders, volunteers and supporters who joined us for a critical conversation about a potential consolidation with Mt. Diablo Silverado and San Francisco Bay Area councils. There has been NO decision made to move ahead with a merger and that action will require a vote of the Executive Board and Chartered Partner Representatives in April.

There were a number of very important and thoughtful questions brought up at the Town Hall meeting and below you will find answers that have been compiled. Please review for additional information and insight to the possible council merger. Once again, there has been NO decision made to move ahead, and we encourage all voting members to use the attached info to make an informed decision.

For more information, please contact Alameda Council Interim Scout Executive Jason Lewis at (925) 759-0848 or via e-mail at Jason.lewis@scouting.org or Council President Benjamin Reyes at btr2esq@berkeley.edu.

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

On March 5, 2020, the Executive Committee of the Alameda Council Boy Scouts of America, Inc. (“Alameda Council”) adopted a resolution calling a vote of the voting members on March 31, 2020 to merge with San Francisco Bay Area Council (SFBAC) and Mt. Diablo Silverado Council (MDS) to form a new council that will be called “Golden Gate Area Council” (GGAC).

On March 12, 2020, Alameda Council conducted a town hall meeting. Several questions were asked by the stakeholders and answered by the members of the Executive Committee. In an ongoing commitment to transparency, Alameda Council has prepared these Frequently Asked Questions, along with the answers, to provide information to our stakeholders and voting members. These responses were prepared with the assistance of the National Council, including input from the National Council’s legal office.

What are the benefits to Alameda Council of forming the new GGAC?

The consolidation is designed to improve services to our scouters, while cutting administrative overhead costs such as audit fees, National Council Service fees, Scout Executive salaries, insurance premiums, and many other back office expenses. The savings to the consolidated entity is anticipated to result in $800,000 in surplus funds in 2022, which will be deployed to support resources to better serve youth of all three Councils, including Alameda’s youth.

Is this consolidation being proposed to avoid Alameda Council’s bankruptcy in a few years?

No. Alameda Council is solvent and there is no risk of bankruptcy at this time. The Council still generates revenue from several sources and currently has $1.2 Million in secured funds in its endowment fund. This consolidation is designed to improve youth experiences, including our camps, not to prevent bankruptcy.

It should be noted that Alameda Council continues to have historic financial difficulties in the form of raising operating funds from the families who participate in Scouting in Alameda. It costs $300 per registered scout annually to fully support a full-service Council. The Council’s Friends of Scouting (“FOS”) campaign requests donations of $250.00 annually per scout. However, only 1 in 5 families who participate in scouting contribute. The Council continues to raise operating funds from community contributions and special events, despite the lack of participation from Scouting families. The Council has adopted a deficit budget for 2020, however, with increased contributions from the Scouting families, this deficit may be reduced or eliminated.

Will Alameda Council be receiving more services than it would standing alone?

Yes. The consolidation will result in improved services for the youth of all three councils. This is a strategically driven consolidation that takes advantage of each councils’ core competencies.

Is this consolidation an economic decision?

 See above. No. The consolidation is not primarily an economic decision, but a strategic decision to provide increased services across a larger platform. The new GGAC will serve over 20,000 youth over five counties. GGAC will continue to serve Alameda’s youth and enable our Scouters to have access to 7,000 adult leaders and merit badge counselors, 5 council-owned camps (Wente Scout Reservation, Camp Royaneh, Camp Herms, Rancho Los Mochos & Camp Wolfeboro), 14 different day camps, and will share an $8.2 million operation. The anticipated revenue surplus in 2022 will be $800,000, which will be deployed to benefit the youth of all three councils.

Will the expected contribution levels to Friends of Scouting change on a per-family basis?  What will be difference of the requested contribution to FOS for the new Council. With the economies of scale, is it anticipated that the FOS requests will be reduced? 

This question was specifically raised at the Town Hall meeting. It costs $300 per registered scout annually to fully support a full-service Council. Alameda Council’s Friends of

Scouting (“FOS”) family campaign requests contributions of $250.00 per enrolled scout. However, only 1 in 5 families who participate in scouting contributes to the FOS campaign. MDS currently requests $250 per scout; SFBAC imposes an “activities fee” per scout on a unit basis of just under

$100 per scout. The GGAC Board, which will include Alameda Council representatives, will make a Council-wide decision on the FOS family campaign.

Are we reducing costs by laying off staff?

 No. Staff reductions will occur, but only in areas where redundancies exist, such as eliminating two of the three Scout Executive positions. We do not expect to reduce youth-serving unit-facing professional reductions. Our staff in Alameda will not be laid off. We will be receiving more staff support in the form of a District Executive who will be supporting our units and programs full-time.

Will the new Council sell existing buildings and camps?

No. There are no plans to sell any buildings or camps in the plan.

The Alameda Scout Center office property on Everett St. does not belong to Alameda Council and title will not be transferred to the newly formed GGAC. Alameda Council leases the Everett Street property from a separate non-profit foundation, The Alameda Boy Scouts Foundation, formed in 1971. The new GGAC Board will retain the discretion to make decisions about selling all Council-owner property in the future if it is surplus property. Alameda Council will have representation on the new Board.

Is Alameda Council being forced to consolidate now? What are the benefits of consolidating now, rather than in the future?

No. Alameda Council is not being forced to consolidate now.  Alameda Council’s executive committee has reviewed the proposal and comes into this process as a willing co-partner to the consolidation. Making this decision now means that Alameda Council will have board representation and a voice to control our destiny. Alameda Council may not have that advantage if it is forced to “merge” into a larger council in the future.

If Mt Diablo/Silverado and SFBAC each have 10,000 youth and Alameda has 650 registered youth, will Alameda Council have a voice in making decisions if it serve 3% of the total youth.

Yes. Alameda will have a continued voice in the new GGAC. The proposed merger plan calls for all board members, executive committee members, and members at large, to keep their positions in the new council. National representatives will likely be reduced due to the way the National Council allocates those seats to councils. This means Alameda Council will have an over-sized representation on the new Council Board. Keep in mind that the new GGAC will be one council, and decisions will be made for the benefit of all our youth.

If there is a consolidation, will the merger plan state how many members each of the current council has on the board?

Yes. The existing plan requires all Alameda Council Board members to retain their Board seats on the new GGAC Board. After consolidation, while all members are expected to continue to serve, the new council nominating committee will recruit for the board annually per the National Council’s policy.

Will the merger plan specify who has what authority over the current Alameda Council assets and policies?

Yes, all assets of each of the councils will transfer to the newly formed GGAC council. The total cash and endowment assets are surprisingly similar on a per-youth basis. In addition to that, SFBAC and MDSC have substantial camp and office properties that will put into the newly merged council. In all cases, donor restricted gifts will continue to be restricted for the purpose specified by the donor.

What happens to the Alameda Council endowment?

See above. Most of Alameda Council’s endowment trust fund consist of restricted gifts and will remain dedicated to Scouting in Alameda. GGAC will manage the endowment trust fund, along with our current board members, for the benefit of Alameda’s youth. The capital gains from the trust will be available for operational needs of GGAC.

What happens to the Alameda Council debt?

 Alameda does not have any long-term debt. Alameda Council has short term revolving credit with the National Council for trading post purchases and national fees. It also has a short-term bridge loan to Mr. Richard Anderson. These loans are legal obligations that will be assumed by GGAC.

Does Alameda Council plan to sell its equipment? (Canoes, Kayaks, Trailers, etc.)

No. There is are no current plans to sell any equipment that supports our units and our youth. The purpose of the consolidation is to enhance the support for our youth.

Where will be the headquarters of GGAC be San Leandro? Pleasant Hill?

 The location of the Council’s primary administrative office will be determined by the board of the newly formed GGAC council. There are no current plans to close the Alameda Council office after the consolidation. It will remain a Council “branch” office.  Future decisions will have to be made by the Board of the GGAC. Alameda Council will be represented on the new Board.

Where do we have to travel to drop off applications and other admin items? Buy patches for the COH?

 For at least the coming months, there will be no immediate changes in administrative office procedures, including drop-off procedures. Alameda Council staff will continue to receive applications and will continue to serve all existing units out of the Scout Center on Everett Street.

Will the Kaweah Order of the Arrow Lodge be disbanded?

 Yes. All three lodges will be dissolved and will be required to form a new lodge pursuant the National Charter. We anticipate all current youth officers to finish their terms after which the new lodge will form in an orderly manner. Alameda will become a Chapter of the new lodge. Lodge members will have new leadership opportunities participate in a larger, more diverse lodge.

Will Alameda’s scouters be organized as a district after the formation of the GGAC?

 Yes, the current council boundaries (Alameda’s city limits) will become a one of the 14 existing districts. No districts are being adjusted.

Will Alameda have a district executive?

There will be a District Executive.

Do we still have to pay for staff?

 The GGAC will employ all staff.

Council awards: 21,000 youth and 650 units. Will Alameda still get one silver beaver, one Oscar, etc. out of 650 units.

 No. There are strict guidelines on the number of Silver Beavers any council may award each year. The Silver Beaver selection committee will choose six Silver Beaver award recipients from among the great Scouters across the entire council adult membership. Ultimately, this means that AC would receive more Silver Beavers, or none, in any given year.

Are camporees at the council level or district level?

 Camporees will continue to be district-level events, but the new council will likely hold larger events from in order to offer a different experience for our youth.

Merit Badge Counselors. Where do we get certified?

 Merit badge counselor training is available online through my.scouting.org. Merit badge counselors are traditionally handled on a district level. This would result in virtually no change for Scouters in Alameda council. However, youth would gain readily available access to merit badge councilors thru the Scoutbook app within all of san Francisco Bay Area and Mt. Diablo Silverado Councils merit badge councilor list.

What will Alameda Council lose in this consolidation?

This is a difficult question to answer. Some Town Hall participants expressed concern that the “culture” of Alameda Council will be lost in this transition. All stakeholders have cultural and emotional connections to our 103-year-old Council. Many of the existing Board members and unit volunteers grew up in Alameda scouting and have strong nostalgic ties to the council resulting from the positive experiences in the past. It is important to keep in mind that this consolidation is a forward-facing action that will benefit existing and future youth in our programs. The reality is that Alameda Council will lose its existing Council shoulder patch. But Alameda representatives will have an opportunity to design a new patch that reflects the identity of Alameda, along with the other councils.

Summary: Things will change, as change is inevitable. None of us will like all the changes. But changes will be made thoughtfully by the newly formed board and volunteers of the GGAC to enhance our service to youth. Alameda Council’s representatives on the GGAC will continue to preserve the culture and strength of Alameda Scouting and will share its expertise for its Gold level programs with the other members for the next 100 years. The merger plan implementation will be deliberately slow and systematic to ensure that our youth are not adversely affected.


 

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