A Collection of Freehold Policies and Procedures
- Branch Financial Policy
(Required by the Office of the Exchequer)
Mountain Freehold Financial Policy is based on the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc. (SCA) Financial Policy, and the East Kingdom Financial Policy, and does not repeat the requirements set forth in those documents.
The Financial Committee shall consist of the Branch Seneschal, the Branch Exchequer, and a third paid SCA member who is mutually acceptable to both. The Financial Committee will communicate as necessary for the smooth running of the Shire. The obtaining of necessary signatures will be done either in person or by mail.
Mountain Freehold currently has a dual-signature checking account, with the signatories being the Branch Exchequer, the Branch Seneschal, and the Kingdom Exchequer. At this time, our only bank account is our checking account.
Although we realize it is strongly recommended to have a yearly budget, we feel it makes no sense in our situation, since there is nothing to budget for. We have a comfortable bank balance. We have very little financial activity outside of events, and we have no ongoing committed expenses. In order to finance special purchases outside events, we encourage fundraising for those specific expenses.
Financial Reporting and Disclosure
At any moot (business meeting) held in the Freehold, the Exchequer will be prepared to state the current account balance, and will have the most recent bank statement available for review by the populace.
Following each event held in the Freehold, the Exchequer will announce, on our local mailing list, whether the event made or lost money, and how much. An event report form will be available, after it has been filed, for inspection upon request by any Freeholder.
Any member of Mountain Freehold may review the branch financial records at the Exchequer’s home, at any time that is mutually convenient.
Once a year, following the submission of the year-end financial report, the Exchequer will make available a printed copy of our Comparative Balance Sheet and Income Statement.
- Expense Authorizations
Event autocrats must submit an event budget in advance, to be approved by the Financial Committee, before the event can be publicized. If the budget is not approved, the event is a no-go.
Expenses of over $50 that are not related to events will be discussed openly at the next moot. If a moot is not currently on the schedule, and the need is pressing, discussion of the expense may take place on the group email list. After considering the wishes of the group at large, and the state of the group’s finances, the decision whether to authorize such expenses will remain with the Financial Committee. Ideally, the cost of such expenses will be offset by fund-raising for that purpose.
Expenses of less than $50 that are not related to events may be authorized upon consensus of the Financial Committee. These expenses will also be brought to the attention of the populace through the group email list.
VII. Pennsic Expenses
Pennsic expenses for our Freehold Camp are not normally funded from the Freehold Treasury, for two reasons. First, a certain proportion of people in our camp are not actually Freeholders. Second, many Freeholders do not attend Pennsic. Therefore, each year’s Freehold camp will have a management committee to set a camp budget, to determine the fee for that year’s camp. Each year’s camp should be self-supporting, with a slight surplus built into the budget for future years to allow for future large or unexpected expenses. Camp fees for 2015 were $45/adult. Typical Pennsic expenses include:
1) Trailer storage fee
3) Shower plumbing, propane, and other hot water supplies
4) Propane for cooking
5) Infrastructure improvements for common use such as sunshades, tables, benches, and camp walls
6) Some ice and drinking water for general use
Here Endeth our Financial Policies.
- Freehold Policy for Complimentary Admission to Events, and Refunds
(Required by the Office of the Exchequer)
The King, Queen, Prince and Princess will get free admission to any Freehold event, including the feast. Members of the Royal Retinue get no special treatment.
Visiting territorial Barons and Baronesses get no discounts.
By Freehold tradition, the Autocrat gets in free, but still has to pay for the feast if he or she will be seated at the feast. The Head Cook also gets in for free and doesn’t sit for the feast. That means free admission for ONE autocrat and ONE cook. If there are multiple autocrats or cooks, they may split the applicable discount amongst themselves.
However, if the event loses money, it’s considered proper for these people to voluntarily pay their share of the site fee anyway – but it’s up to them. The Exchequer should let them know how the event did as soon as possible, and definitely before filing the final event report, so that adjustments can be made.
The final authority on whether refunds will be given is the Autocrat. The person who actually issues the refund is the Exchequer. Requests for refunds should go to the Autocrat first. The Autocrat should consult with the Exchequer as soon as possible, so that the refund may be issued in a timely fashion.
Refunds cannot be issued beyond two weeks after the date of the event. (After two weeks, the event report has been finalized and mailed to Kingdom, and changes are very difficult.)
Normally, we only give refunds if the event makes a profit. Exceptions may be made in cases of financial hardship or in the interest of maintaining good will. This is at the Autocrat’s discretion.
Feast fees will be refunded if somebody else is willing to pay for that seat. Otherwise, if we cooked for you, and you didn’t show up, you still incurred that expense.
Refunds of Money Mailed in Advance.
Refunds for non-attenders who prepaid will not happen automatically – they need to ask the Autocrat or Shire Exchequer for a refund. The request must be received within two weeks of the event. After that, the event report is finalized, and we can’t change the numbers.
Refunds at the Gate.
If somebody pays for the feast in the morning and then decides to leave early – ideally, they can “sell” their seat to somebody else directly; that way they get their money back right away. We can’t take money out of the cash box and give it back to them. If they want a refund, they should write down their name, mailing address, and amount of refund in the Gate Log Book. If the Autocrat has approved a refund, and if the Exchequer can be found, the Exchequer can issue a refund check on the spot.
- Policy for filling vacant offices
(based on an email discussion with a previous seneschal in 2010)
If an office is unfilled, and somebody wants to fill it: The seneschal will announce that the post has a candidate, and will solicit other applicants, so everybody has a shot at it (no automatic shoo-ins.) If there are no other candidates, the person can have the job without an election. If there’s a second interested candidate, then there needs to be an election of some sort – after encouraging the candidates to work together, perhaps with one as a deputy.
Elections can be done by email, or at a moot. Email is preferable, given the dispersed nature of our shire. Email elections sometimes have an appointed “vote counter” who is a respectable, neutral person who dwells outside of our shire, and email votes are directed to that person, with a copy sent to our seneschal.
We *don’t* have term limits in the Freehold, and that leads to the strange situation of not knowing when a person is done with the office. I think, often, people stay in their jobs far too long for anybody’s good. There is a certain type of person who “just wants an office” and doesn’t necessarily do anything with it. That can cause more harm than good.
Our lack of term limits makes it difficult to “challenge” an incumbent who’s doing a barely marginal job of it and offer to take it off their hands. It takes balls, frankly, and I can’t remember it being done in a long time. Inertia rules, and timidity. But if somebody is doing a piss-poor job at their office and somebody else thinks they can do it better – they should contact the seneschal, who can make overtures to the incumbent and see if they really want to continue; and if they do, then, it’s still OK to call an election.
Once in recent memory an officer has been “fired” for non-performance of duties. Things had gotten to a ridiculous point and it was pretty clear that something needed to be done. The seneschal handled this as subtly as possible behind the scenes, to save face. Eventually a public announcement was made, “it appears we need a new Officer” – and candidates were solicited, and somebody else got the office, and there was much rejoicing.
- Policies for Running an Event in the Freehold
(from Iustinos, 2009)
Questions have recently come up as to what is necessary in the process of volunteering to run an event. I thought I would lay out what is necessary from a legal standpoint.
When volunteering to take on the role of event steward (aka autocrat), there are certain procedures which must be followed. Prior to any announcement of the event, the seneschal must be contacted with details of the event. These include location, date and time, and a general idea of planned activities. The reason for this is given in the Seneschal’s Handbook Part IV.G.13 which details that a seneschal must be aware of events in the group’s calendar as he is ultimately responsible for them. To go with this is the fact that only the seneschal can sign a written contract (such as a site agreement) for the group.
Please also keep in mind that there are three basic requirements set forth by East Kingdom Law for an event steward: they must be at or over the age of 18, they must be a paid member of the Society for Creative Anachronsim, Inc., and they must reside in the boundaries of the sponsoring group (Section VIII.E).
These policies are not in effect to give the seneschal a power trip. They are not present to make life difficult. They are present because we do have to exist within the context of both SCA and mundane law. Keeping an eye on that is part of my responsibility.
- Some Ancient Traditions
Vote as infrequently as possible. Consensus is good.
The Seneschal calls the moot when it feels like time to have one.