Changes at organization continue after community calls for transparency, accountability
UPDATE, 1/22/14: Charlotte LGBT center may close in February
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The board of directors of the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte voted last week to institute a new rental fee schedule for their meeting space and has adopted a new organizational membership structure, though members will have few rights or oversight; member dues have yet to be announced.
The changes, made at the board’s Jan. 15 meeting, come in response to community feedback aired at a town hall last month. On Dec. 4, nearly 100 people attended a town hall in which concerns over openness, transparency and board accountability were discussed. The town hall was planned in response to several commentaries from this writer at his personal blog last month.
After the town hall, the board unanimously voted in December to open its board meetings to the public and reinstate a membership structure for the organization. The board approved necessary bylaws changes and other procedures including a new rental fee schedule last week.
center rental fees
New rental fees for the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte’s facilities were approved by the board on Jan. 15. They include:
Small meeting rooms: $25.00/hr
Large meeting room: $35/hr
Downstairs main room: $125/hr (plus 25% non-refundable deposit)
Downtstairs main room: $500 flat fee for four hours.
50% discount on fees, with proof of 501(c)3 status
LGBT community organizations:
Organizations can pay $100 annually for use of any of the small or large meeting rooms on the second floor once per month. Organizations collecting a fee for the program or using the downstairs main room will be charged for-profit or non-profit rates.
The center, which includes three meeting rooms on its second floor and a large multi-purpose main room on its first, will rent space to for-profit businesses, non-profit organizations with proof of 501(c)3 status and other community organizations. At the December town hall, some community members had sought clarification over and noted concerns regarding uniformity in how the center charged businesses and community organizations for meeting space. The new fee schedule, as reported in the center’s Jan. 15 board meeting summary, is published at right.
Membership was also a concern at the December town hall, with some community members noting the need for greater transparency and accountability for the board. The center had been founded in 2001 as a membership organization, though that structure was disbanded sometime in 2006 or 2007.
Dues for the center’s new membership structure have yet to be announced. Members will not have the right to vote on the election of board officers or positions and, according to new bylaws, may only vote on matters when the board calls for a general vote of the membership. Members, however, will be able to access center facilities and regular activities and may receive discounts or incentives for center events or activities. Members can be expelled by a two-thirds vote of the board for “good cause,” as defined in the bylaws as “behavior that is disruptive or damaging to the public standing of the center and/or refusal to abide by the Bylaws, Code of Conduct, or rules and regulations of the Board of Trustees.”
The board also unanimously approved a membership drive, which has yet to be announced.
The center board made several other bylaws and procedural changes, among them:
- Public comment: The first 15 minutes of each board meeting will be open to the public, with that time each meeting reserved for comments or concerns. Those wishing to speak at the meeting must give notice to firstname.lastname@example.org at least 24 hours prior to the date of the meeting. The board notes in its bylaws that the open comment period “is not a discussion, and response will not be given from the Board of Trustees at that time. Instead, all issues will be noted by the secretary and discussed by the Board of Trustees at the following meetings.”
- Open board meetings: After the 15 minutes of open comment, the board meeting will remain open only to the center’s membership. Members will be allowed to observe the meeting only and cannot vote on board matters. Board meetings will be held no less than 10 times each year, with the time, date and place of meetings announced on the center’s website. Changes in meeting dates, times and places will be communicated publicly 30 days prior to the meeting. Board meetings will be held the third Wednesday of each month, 6:30-8 p.m. The next board meeting is scheduled for Feb. 19.
- Town hall meetings: The center will continue to hold town hall meetings four times each year. Specific town hall discussion topics will be chosen by the board. Meetings will start at 6:30 p.m. and end at 7:30 p.m., and will be moderated by an outside party. The center’s new bylaws also state: “Each individual speaking will be given a fair and equal opportunity to bring an issue to the Board. All community members and Board members in attendance are asked to behave in a respectful manner. Any person(s) causing a disruption to the meeting will be asked to leave.”
- Sponsorships: The board also approved new general sponsorship levels of $300, $500 and $1,000 levels.
Among other news, the center board is currently planning a “Back to the Block” party for Feb. 8. Details about the event have yet to be announced.
The center will hold its second town hall meeting on Feb. 6, 6:30 p.m., at the center. A moderator and discussion topics have yet to be announced.