Tuesday, 01 October 2013 21:37
By 12th Moon,
Council met at the Human Services Building at 320 West MLK/State St. on Sept. 17, the third Tuesday of the month, because the 10% on the 10th sales day fell on the second Tuesday in September. Our General Manager (GM) Brandon Kane was in Seattle at a national co-op GM conference, so Sara Paulison, Operations Manager, presented Brandon's monthly GM report. We learned that the construction projects at our warehouse property were on schedule and that the Enterprise rental staff plan to move into their new location by mid-October, so we'll be able to use that building for classes and meetings by November. Our newly renovated public gathering area at the north end of the warehouse building should be completed in time for the Winter Farmers Market in January; the central kitchen and bakery should be ready for occupancy by February. With help from P.J. Hoffman, the Business Development Director for the National Cooperative Grocers Association, staff will develop an expansion plan for both the West End and Oasis that will capitalize on the space and capacity gained by the central kitchen/bakery project. The improvements at both stores will happen in early to mid 2014 and are being incorporated into the proposed budget for next year, a year that will also see a living wage increase from $10.70/hr. to $11.80/hr. Brandon also reported that starting in January of 2014 he will institute Open Book Management, a way of involving staff in the Co-op's finances on a much deeper level, which will not only increase transparency but also draw more engagement from all concerned.
Our next item was a revised GM's B.1 1st Quarter Financial report, which was necessitated by the discovery of a mistaken inventory count from the 1st quarter. The report was approved and we next received the GM's B.1 2nd Quarter Financial report, which was accepted and referred to our Finance Committee for review and a report back to Council at our October meeting.
A proposal to use $7,000 of the Co-op's savings to purchase a share in the National Cooperative Bank (NCB) was tabled until next month after many questions were raised. Staff was asked to provide more rationale and more background. NCB has already agreed to loan us as much as $700,000 to complete the central kitchen/bakery project if needed.
We next reviewed a preliminary 2014 Council Budget, which was sent back to our Finance Committee to incorporate suggested changes that came from our discussions.
Our next two items concerned a bylaws revision that we're bringing to membership for a vote during October. The first item was a brief report back from an Immediacies Committee meeting held to finalize the wording of the revisions after receiving input from a NY state cooperative law lawyer. The final language for the revisions was the second item, and after two minor word changes we approved and finalized the proposed bylaws change language. Please read about the proposed changes in the Fall Member Mailing and at the Member Centers at both stores during October. Our Fall Membership Meeting will be held Friday, Oct. 18 at St. Paul's United Methodist Church on Court St. starting at 5:30 p.m. and will highlight a presentation by our Bulk Manager, Joe Damiano, regarding his recent trip to visit Equal Exchange farm families in Peru, as well as a presentation of the proposed bylaws changes. There will also be an Open Mic and informational Member Forum at the West-End store classroom on Monday, Oct. 7 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
Minutes of our August meeting were next amended and approved and we received and approved the GM's interpretations for our Policy B.13 Ombuds Program. Interpretations are the agreed-upon data or statistics that the GM will use to report to Council in following years on adherence to the policy.
After our mid-meeting break we reviewed two of the policies that relate to the work Council does. We reviewed and found ourselves in compliance with both policy C.8 Governance Investment and C.9 Ombuds Program.
We then selected six Council Members to attend a Strategic Seminar/Cooperative Cafe presented by Cooperative Development Services/Cooperative Board Leadership Development in Philadelphia on Saturday, Nov. 2. The Cooperative Cafe offers focused conversations "that advance our thinking, build shared understanding and create alignment." The day features "brief presentations and guided exchanges that offer co-op leaders a how-to for cultivating similar involvement in their local communities."
Our next item, a proposed set of amendments to our C.8 policy Governance Investment regarding Council compensation, drew much discussion. The discussions were primarily about attendance requirements, proposed to be more stringent and to include both Council and committee attendance, and a clause to allow for Council Members to request additional compensation for chairing or attending multiple standing and ad hoc committees. The decision was to table this item until October with Council Members requested to give additional feedback to our Treasurer.
Next, we selected tellers for the vote count for the proposed bylaws changes being brought to members in October. Thanks go out to all five Council Members and three committee members-at-large who volunteered even more time to our co-op.
Lastly, a lively discussion was had reflecting on the content of the presentation and the response of attendees to our recent Area Supervisors/Council/Staff Advisory Board Retreat held on Friday, Sept. 13. The retreat brought us together to get to know each other better and to think about how to address possible future concerns for natural foods co-ops as larger agribusinesses focus on natural and organic products and the demand by consumers for these products increases. The mix of staff and Council Members brought many ideas and concerns from differing perspectives to think about the future well-being of our co-op.
By Dan Hoffman,
Governance Committee Chair
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