Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Slip fee waivers for the NMSC ... good or bad idea?

A question came up in the New Mexico Sailing Club about giving a "slip fee waiver" to allow a person to hang onto his right to keep his boat in a slip this summer without having to actually put his boat in the slip and pay for the slip. The club has a policy of allowing the board to give waivers when extraordinary circumstances create a hardship for a slip tenant. Most of the club's income comes from slip rentals, and the club's marina is operated by the slip users, who each agree to spend half a week as marina "dock masters". My response...

Hmmmm, I'm trying to do some devil's advocatry from both sides in regard to ________'s waiver request, and I'd sure like to get some guidance from folks about what they think is fair and humane and how we should handle waivers.

On the give 'em a waiver side:

- - These are extraordinary times for the club;

- - People like ________ have done a lot for the club in the past and ______'s contribution with the _______ and ______'s board service remain valued and appreciated;

- - It's hard for folks who are getting older or who have physical limitations or even healthy folks with burdens to get down the hill to the marina;

- - We have in the past given waivers, especially for unique, severe, unforseeable sorts of circumstances;

- - It would be unkind and indecent to dump long-term members from the list when they're suffering from problems that prevent them from participating fully in the club;

- - At some point, one or more of us may be in the same situation as the person who is asking for the waiver today. What would we consider fair and humane under those circumstances?

On the don't give a waiver side:

- - If we lower the standard for giving hardship waivers so that they can be indefinitely renewed, then our policies are meaningless;

- - Waivers are meant for unexpected, one-of-a-kind, temporary circumstances; it seems to be abusing the system to be repeatedly renewing waivers to the same people for the same reasons year after year;

- - Granting waivers for less-than-extraordinary circumstances or granting them repeatedly might give some people the idea that they can "bail" out of club obligations whenever the club faces tough times, further discouraging the remaining folks who are doing the work;

- - The club may not be able to solve the problems in regard to marina access and the precarious location of the marina in a shallow cove without the active physical and financial participation of as many members as possible; carrying inactive members (in terms of helping with the marina and work parties and such) on the priority list doesn't further this;

-- If someone is asking for yet another waiver for the same reasons as the year before, then there seems to be no reason to believe that the situation is temporary or is going to change. Yet, people who are actively contributing to the club will have a lower priority while the situation of the person on the waiver remains unresolved;

- - What problem does given the waiver solve? What is the expectation or plan for resolving the problem? Why won't the same person be asking for another waiver in 2007? And another one in 2008? Do the reasons for asking for the waiver depend upon things that are either under the control or beyond the control of the requester or the club? ..... Why is giving the waiver good for the club?

- - Letting people keep their slip priority without making the same level of current contributions to the club as other slip holders (in terms of dock sitting, paying slip fees, serving on work parties; and, yes, we definitely do acknowledge and value ______'s work on the ________ and ______'s past service on the board) is fundamentally unfair to the people who are doing the hard work of dock sitting and keeping the marina from falling apart.

So, what does ______ say about his reasons for a waiver, and does he believe that there's a reason that they are temporary and can be resolved in the coming year, and how is he willing to meet us halfway and help the club in exchange for helping him (again)?

I'm very open to creative ideas. For example, since we seem to be having a tough time finding subletters, maybe we could get people to agree to pay an administrative fee of half the normal slip rental when people don't want to use their slips but the club can't find a subletter. We can also put out lots of publicity about the club and marina and new A dock to try to get more potential marina customers and do a better job of finding subletters.

Also, I realize that not everyone is in condition to do heavy physical work on the marina, but there sure are lots of other things needing doing, such as publicity, help with the Spinnaker Sheet, social activities, racing, etc.


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