GPCA Bylaws Draft Fiscal Policy
Subject: Establishing a GPCA Fiscal Policy
Background: The GPCA does not have a specific, stand-alone fiscal policy. This proposal would establish one and in so doing, create a single, clear place to go to understand the entirety of the party's fiscal practices. Why is this needed?
The process leading up to and occurring at the 2011 GPCA General Assembly in Berkeley exposed many inadequacies in both the GPCA's budget process and its overall fiscal process. While some of those inadequacies could be ascribed to low participation in the Finance Committee and Budget Committee, others could not. These range from a lack of clarity about the preparation of budget documents, to how much discretion the Coordinating Committee is granted to make budget-related implementation decisions during the fiscal year. This proposed fiscal policy attempts to address those issues and to fill in a few additional gaps in the GPCA's fiscal practices by borrowing from a few sections of the fiscal policy of the Green Party of the United States (GPUS).
Where is the GPCA at now vis-a-vis these issues?
- The rules governing the GPCA's budget process and its budget committee are contained in the Finance Committee section of the GPCA bylaws, even though much of the budget process is not within the purview of the Finance Committee. This proposed fiscal policy would create clear and separate sections for the Finance Committee (ARTICLE III), Budget Committee (ARTICLE IV) and overall budget process (ARTICLE V). It also would codify what have become a few de facto fiscal practices by creating brief sections for Financial Management (ARTICLE IX) and Financial Reporting (ARTICLE X).
- There is currently a section of the GPCA bylaws defining the role of the Treasurer, but this is placed into a bylaws section about committees, even though the Treasurer is not a committee. This fiscal policy creates a specific section for the Treasurer (ARTICLE II) that retains the existing responsibilities from the current Treasurer bylaw with two additions - making explicit the responsibility to prepare and file any official reporting required by the State of California and the Federal Elections Commission, and adding an additional duty that has also become de facto - that the Treasurer signs checks on behalf of the GPCA.
- The current Budget Committee consists of four members: two from the Finance Committee and two from the Coordinating Committee. Given the breadth of work and responsibility in creating a draft budget, this fiscal policy would expand the Budget Committee to six members, three from the Finance Committee and three from the Coordinating Committee. It also adds a clause to addresses a potential conflict of interest, by clarifying that no one may be a member of the Budget Committee who is also recommended in the budget to receive funding for services provided (with one exception, see 4-2.2 below).
- The current GPCA bylaws governing expenses and disbursal of funds are currently contained in the Finance Committee section of the bylaws, even though many of the procedures in the bylaws involve the Coordinating Committee and Treasurer rather than the Finance Committee. This fiscal policy establishes a separate section (ARTICLE VII) to govern these processes. However, ARTICLE VII does not change the actual process for dealing with expenses and disbursal of funds, it simply copies them over into 7-3, 7-4, 7-5 and 7-6, with one addition, that when the Coordinating Committee authorizes the expenditure of funds upon an emergency basis in 7-6, it must approve of a statement of findings why such an out-of-budget expenditure is in the substantial interest of the party and how it will be paid for, and report this to the next General Assembly .
ARTICLE VII does include a new section "Section 7-2 Prioritization of Expenditures", mirroring a similar section of the Fiscal Policy of the GPUS. Section 7-2 is meant to minimize the need for mid-year discretion on the part of the Coordinating Committee and Treasurer, by providing clarity that the GPCA shall first meet its legal and contractual obligations and the basic expenses needed to 'keep the lights on' for the party, before expending funds for other purposes.
- The GPCA currently has no policy governing from whom it will take donations. This fiscal policy would attempt to incorporate Green values by clarifying that the GPCA will accept no donations from corporations, unions, banks or political action committees (ARTICLE VI). This donation policy mirrors that of the GPUS, except the GPUS allows for its National Committee to approve PAC donations on a one-by-one basis and the proposed GPCA policy would not.
- The GPCA currently has no policy governing the rights and expectations of its donors. This fiscal policy creates a Donors Bill of Rights (ARTICLE VIII), mirroring that of the GPUS.
- Finally, this proposed fiscal policy retains the Finance Committee's role in assisting the Treasurer with a variety of tasks, and its role in supporting fundraising and helping to collect funds owed to the GPCA. But it adds specificity in the Finance Committee's role in the budget process. It also gives the Finance Committee the authority to propose amendments to this fiscal policy directly to the General Assembly, whereas currently only the Bylaws Committee and/or county Green organizations can make such a proposal.
Proposal: That the General Assembly amend 7-1.12 and 7-2 of the GPCA Bylaws as follows to refer to the GPCA Fiscal Policy, eliminate 3-1.2 Fiscal Policy in he Bylaws and define the fiscal year in the Fiscal Policy and and approve and establish the Fiscal Policy below
The Treasurer shall have the duties and responsibilities as defined in the GPCA Fiscal Policy. The term of the Treasurer shall be two years, beginning in odd-numbered years: the Treasurer shall be nominated by the Coordinating Committee, and subject to the confirmation of the first meeting of the General Assembly in odd-numbered years. The Coordinating Committee shall immediately fill any vacancy in the office of Treasurer, subject to the confirmation of the next meeting of the General Assembly.
Section 7-2. Finance Committee
The Finance Committee shall have the duties, responsibilities and membership as defined in the GPCA Fiscal Policy.
FISCAL POLICY OF THE GREEN PARTY OF CALIFORNIA
ARTICLE 1 PURPOSE
Section 1-1 Purpose
This Fiscal Policy is intended to:
1-1.1 Direct the financial practices of the Green Party of California (GPCA) and establish the duties and authorities of the officers and committees necessary to carry out this purpose.
1-1.2 Promote clarity, accountability and transparency in the Party's fiscal and financial practices, including those of its committees, working groups, officers, employees and contractors.
1-1.3 Promote financial practices by the Party that are in compliance with all applicable laws.
Section 1-2 Definitions
The following terms are defined and used in this document:
1-2.1 Party and GPCA shall mean the Green Party of California.
1-2.2 Treasurer shall mean the treasurer of the Green Party of California.
ARTICLE II TREASURER
Section 2-1 Duties and Responsibilities
The Treasurer shall have the duties and responsibilities as provided for in this Fiscal Policy, including:
2-1.1 Account for revenues and expenditures of the GPCA.
2-1.2 Maintain bank accounts as authorized in this Fiscal Policy.
2-1.3 Make expenditures on behalf of the GPCA.
2-1.4 Prepare and present reports to the General Assembly and GPCA committees and working groups.
2-1.5 Review and approve an annual balance sheet and statement of revenues and expenditures reflecting revenues earned and obligations incurred during the previous fiscal year.
2-1.6 Serve as a voting member of the Budget Committee and a voting ex-officio member of the Finance Committee.
2-1.7 Sign contracts on behalf of the GPCA
2-1.8 Prepare and file any official reports required by the State of California and the Federal Elections Commission.
Section 2-2 Assistant Treasurers
The General Assembly may appoint Assistant Treasurers to support the work of the Treasurer.
ARTICLE III FINANCE COMMITTEE
Section 3-1 Duties and Responsibilities
The Finance Committee shall have the duties and responsibilities as provided for in this Fiscal Policy, including:
3-1.1 Support the Treasurer to carry out the duties and responsibilities of the Treasurer.
3-1.2 Provide assistance for GPCA fundraising activities.
3-1.3 Establish a format for Requests for Payment and for Requests for Reimbursement.
3-1.4(a) Standardize the naming of budget lines for use in the annual budget process;
3-1.4(b) Establish a format for standing committees and working groups to submit annual budget requests;
3-1.4(c) Provide income projections for the annual budget, including income projections from work done by GPCA staff and independent contractors;
3-1.4(d) Recommend to the Budget Committee a prudent reserve for the fiscal year and explain its rationale;
3-1.4(e) Compile all annual budget requests, income projections and income and expense narratives from standing committees and working groups, combine them into an initial draft budget and submit it to the Budget Committee;
3-1.4(f) provide an oral presentation of the written report to the General Assembly.
3-1.5 Make proposals to the General Assembly to amend this Fiscal Policy.
3-1.6 Collect funds owed to the GPCA.
Section 3.2 Membership
3-2.1 The Finance Committee shall be a standing committee of the General Assembly. It shall have eight members appointed by the Coordinating Committee, including the Coordinating Committee Liaison, and the Treasurer shall serve a voting ex-officio ninth member.
3-2.2 The Treasurer shall serve for the duration of their tenure as Treasurer. The terms for the other committee members shall be two years with no term limits.
ARTICLE IV BUDGET COMMITTEE
Section 4.1 Duties and Authority
The Budget Committee shall prepare and present an annual draft budget to the General Assembly. It shall be based upon the budget requests and income projections from standing committees and working groups as described in 5-2 and the prioritization of expenses as described in 7-2, and shall contain income and expense narratives that explain the purpose of each budget line item.
Section 4.2 Membership
4-2.1 The Budget Committee shall be a standing sub-committee of the General Assembly and be composed of six members: three from the Finance Committee and three from the Coordinating Committee. Members from the Finance Committee members shall include the Treasurer and two at-large members, appointed by the Finance Committee. Members from the Coordinating Committee shall include the Coordinating Committee liaison to the Finance Committee and two at-large members, appointed by the Coordinating Committee.
4-2.2 No one may be member of the Budget Committee who is recommended in the budget to receive funding for services provided, except in the case where the Treasurer may be recommended to receive a stipend for services provided as Treasurer, in which case the Treasurer shall recused from the separate vote whether to include the stipend in the budget, but then may otherwise vote on the Draft Budget.
4-2.3 The Treasurer shall serve for the duration of their tenure as Treasurer. The Coordinating Committee liaison to the Finance Committee shall serve or the duration of his/her tenure as liaison. The at-large Finance Committee members and the at-large Coordinating Committee members may each serve for up to three consecutive one-year terms, but then may not serve a fourth, after which this timing begins anew.
Section 4.3 Decision-making
4-3.1 The Budget Committee shall seek consensus in its work, but when unresolved, outstanding concerns remain, shall operate upon the basis of majority vote.
4-3.2 Quorum shall be at least five members, whether upon a teleconference, at a face-to-face meeting or as part of an on-line vote.
4-3.3 The Budget Committee shall have its own email list upon which to conduct committee business.
ARTICLE V ANNUAL BUDGET
Section 5-1 Fiscal Year
The Fiscal Year shall run from July 1 to June 30.
Section 5-2 Annual Budget
The Annual Budget shall be approved by a two-thirds vote of the General Assembly. The Draft Budget shall be prepared and proposed to the General Assembly according to the process outlined in this Article. The General Assembly shall consider and approve the Annual Budget on the first day of the first meeting of the General Assembly following the release of the Draft Budget.
Section 5-3 Budget Requests
5-3.1 Standing Committees and Working Groups shall submit annual budget requests to the Finance Committee no later than January 31st of each year. Requests must be consistent with the duties and authority and the work plan of the standing committee or working group, must include income and expense projections where applicable, must provide income and expense narratives where relevant, and be in the format provided for by the Finance Committee in 3-1. The Treasurer shall submit requests through the Finance Committee. The Liaison to the Secretary of State shall submit requests through the Coordinating Committee.
5-3.2 It shall be the responsibility of the Finance Committee to compile all requests, projections and narratives under 5-2.1 into a single document, combine them into an initial draft budget and submit it to the Budget Committee. The Finance Committee and the Budget Committee shall hold a combined meeting to review this draft and receive input and ask questions of those submitting budget requests.
5-3.3 Mid-year requests for out-of-budget emergency funds may be made according to the process described 7-6.
Section 5-4 Draft Budget
During the first quarter of each calendar year, the Budget Committee shall prepare the Draft Budget. The Draft Budget shall be distributed at least six weeks before the General Assembly. The Draft Budget shall:
5-4.1 Incorporate budget requests and income projections from standing committees and working groups as described in 5-2 and the prioritization of expenses as described in 7-2;
5-4.2 Contain an attached Income Narrative to explain the income categories and line item projections of the budget, and provide a plan for raising that income, corresponding to the income projections;
5-4.3 Contain an attached Expense Narrative to explain expense categories and line item projections, that identifies legal and contractual obligations as provided in Section 7-2, provides job descriptions where they exist for GPCA staff and Independent Contractors, and provides a plan to fund a Reserve Fund as specified in 6-2.1(b);
5-4.4 Contain any budget approval resolutions necessary to award contacts, hire staff or independent contractors or other discretionary choices;
5-4.5 Contain an attached balance sheet and statement of revenue and expenditure from the most recently completed fiscal year and a statement of the year-to-date and a projected year-end total of the current fiscal year.
ARTICLE VI: INCOME
Section 6-1 Contributions from Individuals
6-1.1 Contributions from individuals will be accepted in amounts as permitted by law. All excess contributions will be returned. Individual contributions shall be reported as required by the Fair Political Practices Commission and the Federal Elections Campaign Act.
Section 6-2 Contributions from Organizations
6-2.1 No contributions will be accepted from any corporation, union, bank or political action committee, including non-profit corporations and not-for-profit corporations. Grants or contributions from unincorporated foundations or other unincorporated non-profit organizations will be accepted in amounts as permitted by law. Contributions from organizations shall be reported as required by the Fair Political Practices Commission and the Federal Elections Campaign Act.
6-2.2 No contribution will be accepted from a Political Action Committee without the express authorization of the General Assembly even if otherwise allowed under State or Federal law.
6-2.3 Financial or in-kind contributions from individuals who own or operate businesses, sole proprietorships, partnerships, or not-for-profit business are allowed. However, if the business is incorporated, the contribution must come directly from the person rather than through the business.
ARTICLE VII: EXPENDITURES
Section 7-1 Authority to Disburse Funds
7-1.1 The Treasurer is empowered to disburse funds for GPCA expenditures up to the limit of the approved budget line for that purpose, within the prioritization of expenses as described in 7-2, and as may additionally be imposed by the General Assembly as part of the annual budget process. The Treasurer is also empowered to disburse funds upon an emergency basis as defined in 7-6.
Section 7-2 Prioritization of Expenditures
When drawing from the General Operating Account, the GPCA shall satisfy its legal and contractual obligations first, and shall prioritize its operating expenditures in the following order:
7-2.1 Staff payroll, payroll taxes, and benefits;
7-2.2 Office rent and utilities;
7-2.3 Server Hosting, Server Backup, State phone, State Post Office box;
7-2.4 Independent contractors;
7-2.5 Other vendors that are indispensable to operations;
7-2.6 Expenditures with a reasonable expectation of a return on investment in a short period of time; and
7-2.7 Other budgeted expenditures.
Section 7-3 Requests for Payment and Reimbursement
7-3.1 Each standing committee or working group shall request budget funds by filling out either a Request for Payment or a Request for Reimbursement. Requests for Payment are requests to pay in advance for budgeted party expenses and are strongly recommended where possible. Requests for Reimbursement are for when someone has been approved of by their standing committee or working group to pay for a budgeted party expense in expectation of reimbursement.
7-3.2 Requests for Payment and Requests for Reimbursement from standing committees or working groups must be signed by at least one co-coordinator. The Coordinating Committee may designate any of its members to sign on its behalf. But if it does not do so, the default is that at least one of its co-coordinators must sign.
7-3.3 Requests for Payment shall specify the specific budget line requested and to what the budget request is doing for. Requests for Reimbursement shall specify the specific budget line to be reimbursed for and must be accompanied by copies of receipts for all expenses incurred.
Section 7-4 Disbursal of Funds
7-4.1 Upon receipt of a properly executed Request for Payment form, the Treasurer shall issue a check for the amount indicated to the designated payee.
7-4.2 In no case may the Treasurer issue funds in excess of the amount allocated any particular purpose for the fiscal year, except as provided in 7-6. Should a Request for Payment or a Request for Reimbursement be made above the amount budgeted, the Treasurer shall advise those requesting the funds that funds requested in excess of the annual budget amount shall be subject to the Emergency Funding provisions described in 7-6.
Section 7-5 Reporting expenditures
Following each disbursal, the Treasurer shall issue a brief statement to those making the request stating the amount of their budgeted funds disbursed in the fiscal year to date and the remaining budget allocation.
Section 7-6 Emergency funding
7-6.1 Requests for disbursal of funds exceeding the amount budgeted for a specific purpose may be made by standing committees and working groups and be considered by the Coordinating Committee on an emergency basis.
7-6.2 To authorize an emergency disbursal the Coordinating Committee must approve of a statement of findings why such an out-of-budget expenditure is in the substantial interest of the party and how it will be paid for, and must forward this approval to the Treasurer. Such findings, along with the amount and to whom shall also be included in the agenda packet of the next General Assembly after the disbursal occurred, and an oral report of the same shall be given to the plenary session on the first day of the General Assembly. Should it occur at the General Assembly in which the annual budget is considered, it should be part of the budget presentation.
ARTICLE VIII DONORS BILL OF RIGHTS
Donors to the GPCA shall have the right to:
8-1 Be informed of the GPCA purpose, of the way the Party intends to use donated resources and of its capacity to use such donations effectively for their intended purposes;
8-2 Expect the GPCA will use exercise prudent judgment in its stewardship responsibilities;
8-3 Expect that relationships with individuals representing the GPCA will be professional in nature and that information about their donation is handled with respect and confidentiality to the extent provided by the law;
8-4 Be assured that donations will be used for the purposes for which they were given. If the GPCA cannot comply with donor intentions, nor negotiate for a different purpose, the gift shall be returned to the donor;
8-5 Be informed whether those seeking donations are volunteers, employees of the GPCA or independent contractors;
8-6 Feel free to ask questions when making a donation and to receive prompt, truthful, and forthright answers.
ARTICLE IX FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
Section 9-1 Bank Accounts
9-1.1 All funds contributed to or made payable to the GPCA, whether by cash or negotiable instruments, shall be placed on deposit in the principal accounts of the Party, which shall be maintained by the state Treasurer.
9-1.2 The General Assembly may appoint others to be co-signers of the GPCA accounts in addition to the Treasurer. If there are no co-signers appointed by the General Assembly at a given time, the Coordinating Committee may make such appointments in between General Assemblies, but only until the next General Assembly at which time confirmation of that person and/or appointment of others must be on the agenda.
ARTICLE X FINANCIAL REPORTING
Section 10-1 Annual Report to the General Assembly by the Treasurer
The Treasurer shall make an Annual Report to the General Assembly at which the annual budget is considered, detailing the prior year's fiscal activities and reporting upon the Fair Political Practices report(s) filed in the name of the GPCA.
Section 10-2 Monthly Reports to the Coordinating Committee by the Treasurer
The Treasurer shall, on a monthly basis, file with the Coordinating Committee a report of the fiscal activities of the Party for the preceding month.