Regular Member Meeting 2016 03 08
From HacDC Wiki
Time and Location
- Called to order at xxxx pm by xxxx
- Members present:
- Members remote:
- Others present:
- Quorum met?
Approval of Previous Meeting's Minutes
- We received a huge unsolicited donation from Lee! Thanks Lee!
Vice President's Report
Last time HacDC funded a Laser Cutter, it was a $3k expense, had to fit through the door, had marginal size/performance goals, and limited life expectancy. Additionally, everyone was informed we had better prospects of building a better machine ourselves. Approximately $5k budget was allocated over the history of Project LASER, and another $1k was spent on additional tooling.
Now, we hackers have actually demonstrated our prowess, having built a massive scale laser-cutter in place. We believe it is entirely possible to offer safety and usability features, comparable to or better than commercial units. Further, plans are underway to build a smaller classroom unit for training purposes. Allocating funds to back our volunteers' hard work will not only ensure timely completion, but also enable us to achieve decent build quality.
Propose allocating $3.5k to EXPANSION from the general fund, and raise the spending authority for this project to $1.5k/month, for the purposes of (1) commissioning a small classroom CNC machine to include laser-cuttting, (2) improve basement CNC machine especially in areas of reliability, safety, and usability, (3) purchase an off-the-shelf laser cutter from eBay costing less than $500 only in the event of community dissatisfaction with our own classroom and basement laser-cutting machines, and (4) purchase needed equipment to fabricate resources for building or maintaing CNC machines at HacDC (eg. drill press chuck).
Financially, HacDC is healthy, can afford this, and should expect a positive return on investing in its volunteer efforts. Our revenue stream has stabilized around relatively committed members, expenses are low enough for a few contributors to back up in emergency, cash flow is positive, and we have over $12k in the bank. Moreover, policies are now in place to better protect our investments.
We are now in a great position to do this right. We should.
Dungeon Master Report
There is a dungeon, and we are working on a rules set for it.
Our first priority is getting the little Taig CNC machine back online. Most of the components have been located, and the PC is under repair.
Project Awesome Reports
Nothing to report.
Funding the classroom web-conference desktop machine fell through, due eBay sale closing while other proposals and distractions were under consideration. Still expecting to fund this, awaiting new proposals.
Project SEM (Electron Microscope)
Project OTR (Optical Table Robot)
Have heard a suggestion that SUPPLIES and EXPANSION should not be handled under the PA structure, because their scope falls more along the lines of somewhat normal operating expenses or discretionary bugets. The idea seems to be that, like rent, there should be a monthly budget allocation separate from PA.
In principle, maybe it makes sense to empower the BoD to made decisions over funding or custodianship for such budgets. In practice, there were some good reasons SUPPLIES was established as a PA fund last time the debate came up.
In short, PA is a complex structure with demonstrated success addressing fairness, leadership, and prioritization issues.
Historically, back in 2013, SUPPLIES was originally Project 3DP - a 3D printer filament fund led by AndyTa. Ideally, we don't want to charge everyone who uses tiny quantities of filament, especially not for the purpose of maintaining HacDC equipment. Further, making some filament available for guest use also brings in more revenue than cost. Some degree of expertise was also needed to select good quality filament. On the other hand, it might not be fair to ask all members to contribute filament funding, whether they see the benefit or not. General fund expenditures may have been a bit more controversial at the time - arguably some members had a stronger financial stake.
Project Awesome was created to solve exactly this sort of dilemma - members can vote for how they want their own dues spent, and a single leader gets the job done.
Soon, it became obvious that HacDC had the means, and the need, to fulfill stocking requirements beyond filament and 3D printers. Ink, mill stock, electronic components, solder, even paper and labels are needed by a functioning hackerspace. We had multiple active communities with active projects likely to stall without trivial supplies on hand. And so, it was proposed that Project 3DP be converted to Project SUPPLIES with a wider scope.
Even at the time, there were suggestions, particularly from Nootroope (aka. Alberto), that having supplies on hand were important enough to justify drawing directly from the general fund at any time. Four counterarguments prevailed. First, as mentioned above, PA is inherently fair. Second, we had a strong surplus to provide dividends anyway. Third, supplies expenses are arguably less critical, therefore lower priority, than paying rent. Fourth, with a healthy reserve alreay in the budget, allocating more funds could wait for a membership meeting. Again, there was an element of fairness - PA contacts must report every month, and member votes have a direct say both ways month by month.
Thus, SUPPLIES was established as a PA fund.
At the time, we were bringing in a healthy, increasing surplus every month. Soon, SUPPLIES was filled to >$1k, sufficient to repair catastrophic damage to multiple HacDC machines if necessary. In effect, SUPPLIES was exceeding requirements, having become a rapid-response insurance policy capable of keeping equipment online. In fact, to this day, the balance earned that year has successfully covered important expenses and enabled us to act on opportunities for the about past two years. Clearly, SUPPLIES did not need more than a trickle more funding to operate indefinitely. And so, a new project was proposed to make future funds available for more purposes.
Thus, EXPANSION was established as a PA fund.
Buying new equipment is more clearly lower priority than paying rent. Using a mechanism allowing general-fund draw down without member vote would be high-risk. Leadership would be important as well. Even at the time, forseeable opportunities for bikeshedding were endless. Balancing fairness would be particularly essential, given the greater potential for controversy with expenditures likely concentrated into just a few well chosen items. Once again, Project Awesome seemed to be an ideal structure for such purposes.
Unfortunately, EXPANSION did not fare well as SUPPLIES. Shortly after establishment, dividends slowed to a trickle, then ceased entirely. As financial crisis developed, emphasis turned away from high-hopes. Today, with our critical expenses (ie. rent) reduced to less than stable income, we are cash positive, and may see new developments through EXPANSION.
Finally, I encourage everyone to read the Project_Awesome_Rules. Many provisions to give the BoD a final say, safeguards are in place, and members may always vote to allocate funds as they see fit at a monthly meeting. One exception to this is that the BoD does not have direct authority to dismiss a project contact for refusing to dispense funds. Two workarounds are available - any member can establish a new fund and request reallocation to it, or the BoD could be given authority to choose the PoC contact for these particular funds much like the Dungeon Master.
- Proposal to allocate $2,000 for fully recomissioning the OpticalTableRobot. (Tabled at the last meeting)
- Proposal to allocate $500 for an off-the-shelf throw-away eBay laser cutter. - (Tabled at the last meeting)
- Propose that we allocate $100 from our general fund for card and a gift for Brian, Saint Stephen's departing administrator. We can brainstorm what the gift should be; maybe lots of sunscreen since he's moving to a sunny desert place.
Adjourned by at xxx by xxx