Sunday, 10 August 2008

The Shoplifting Dilemma

"As shops factor in the cost of shoplifting into the price of items they sell, by not shoplifting you are simply subsidising those that do"

(** Disclaimer: I am paid by the ACT Junior Chess League(ACTJCL) for chess coaching services **)

In 1999 the ACF began to charge the states a levy on all the teams participating in their junior teams events. Actually, to be more correct, it was a levy on teams that were playing in competitions that could qualify that team for the Australian Schools Teams Championship. It was part of developing new income streams for the ACF, but I was of the opinion then, as well as now, that it was strange that they chose to take money from a group of people who were fairly distant from the ACF (school children), while not looking at ways to charge chess players much closer to the ACF (via a membership scheme).
Well it did succeed in generating more money for the ACF, although who carries the burden threw up some unusual figures. The ACT (population 300,000) was being asked to pay around $1,000 a year in the period 2004-2006. Multiply that by the population of Australia and the ACF should have been generating about $70,000 a year from the levy alone. Of course this wasn't nearly the case as how the levy was calculated turned out to be problematical.
In the case of the ACTJCL they ran a schools championship for each geographical zone (eg Amaroo Primary won the Gungahlin Zone this year). The ACTJCL then invited schools from each zone to play in the ACT Schools Championship (the number of teams from each zone depended upon the strength and numbers of the teams in each zone). They did this for the Primary, High School, Girls Primary, and Girls High Schools competitions. When the ACF asked them to report on the number of teams participating they included teams that had played in the zones (but who didn't play in the finals), assuming this was both the intent and the practice of the ACF levy. However, they discovered that this certainly wasn't the practice of other states, with the exception of Queensland. Astonishingly, states with a far greater population that the ACT were reporting team numbers a half or a quarter of the ACTJCL numbers. Some of this could be explained by the lack of a viable schools chess competition in that state, but in some cases it was the structure of the competition that allowed the states to exclude teams.
Realising that this was a problem, both for the ACTJCL (if the returns were below ACF budgeted predictions next year might see a fee rise, increasing the disproportionate burden on ACT teams) and the ACF (a reduced revenue stream), a letter was sent to the ACF Secretary (Jey Hoole) on the 25 April 2006, from the ACTJCL, laying out their concerns and asking the ACF to reassess the ACTJCL contribution, in light of the payments being made by the other states.
At the time the ACTJCL received no response to this letter.

It was only last week that the ACTJCL did in fact receive a response from the ACF. It reads

The ACF Council considered your response, and passed the following Motion in relation to this issue.

"That the ACF advise the ACTJCL of the following:
1) The ACTJCL in its letter of April 2006 notes that it has not paid the
ACF school levies for 2004 and 2005 and those levies are currently still
2) The ACTJCL has not provided the ACF with figures for 2006 so the ACF
is within its rights to base the 2006 levy on the 2004/2005 levies.
3) The ACF reduced the levy effective 2007. This reduction was not
retrospective. The original levy structure for 2004-2006 remains.
4) The levies for 2007 and 2008 are outstanding.
5) That if the ACTJCL does not pay the outstanding $3020 covering the
2004-2007 school levies by 31st August 2008 then as from 1st September
2008 the following sanctions will apply:
a) No ACT teams will be permitted to play in any ASTC event
including the 2008 event.
b) No ACT junior will be eligible for selection for overseas events
and as such will not be endorsed for overseas events and no grants paid.
(Juniors currently selected are not effected.)
c) No ACT junior will be accepted into future ERGAS training
d) No ACT Junior is eligible to win any ACF Junior title.
6) The above sanctions will be lifted once the ACF Treasurer confirms
the $3020 from the ACTJCL has been paid into the ACF account".

Kind Regards

Jey Hoole
ACF Secretary


Libby said...

It's fortunate that children selected to go overseas this year are not "effected." Unfortunately teams selected for the ASTC in Term 1, already having booked fares prior to the ACF detrermining that sledgehammers are more "effecting" in dealing with organisations than cooperative discussion, are "effected."

Fortunately, as someone with no confidence whatsoever in the workings of the ACF, I have confidence in the committee of the ACTJCL (note - I am not a member of this committee, and have not been for almnost 2 years, and do not speak for them). I have participated in, and observed, the ACTJCL raising significant funds for the Olympiad, running national events like the Juniors, ASTC, Ergas and Young Masters and supporting these events when run by others. All-in-all exhibiting the kind of recalcitrant behaviour that completely justifies an ultimatum delivered two years after the letter of April 2006.

Anonymous said...

This is a rerun of the 1980s when the current ACF President Gary Wastell tried to have Rogers banned from representing Australia because NSWCA hadn't paid some fees.

Anonymous said...

This whole thing is an unfortunate mess.

When the levy came in, it was sold to the junior organisations as revenue raising by the ACF, but that a significant amount would come back to the juniors in the form of a junior development fund. That certainly hasn't happened, although a small amount is used to fund part of the cost of trophies for the ASTC.

I increased the cost of the team's fee for the ACTJCL competitions - it was $20 per team and I increased it to $24 per team and informed the schools that all teams had to pay a levy to the national chess body.

I was probably naive, but it didn't even occur to me that other states would not pay the levy on every team - that was the spirit of the levy, as I understood it. Queensland pays it on every team, in spite of having 3 different grades.

I was pretty upset when I found out about the different theories on how the levy should be paid as part of a discussion in the ACF Junior sub committee.

The levy has been fixed for future years and the new structure in fact sees the pendumum swing the other way, with ACT having to pay a very small amount relative to the size of the schools comp.

It would seem a rational compromise for the back paymetns, would be to pay the levy on only those teams in the finals, as that seems to equate to the top division that NSW pays their's on. It does leave the question about what happens to Queensland - should they be getting a refund if the ACT gets this compromise? Not that I think this compromise will be easily reached, as I understand there is very little desire by the ACF to compromise on this issue.

It is terible that things have got to this point and I would hope it is not to late for the ACF and ACTJCL to actually talk to each other and sort this out in a way that doesn't penalise children.

I think this is yet another example of how not having clearly defined rules and procedures causes misconceptions and problems.

Work has already started by the AusJCL on producing documents to cover various junior activities and I would hope that this means future misconceptions can be avoided.


Anonymous said...

Jenni said "When the levy came in, it was sold to the junior organisations as revenue raising by the ACF, but that a significant amount would come back to the juniors in the form of a junior development fund."

Is this the same "junior development fund" associated with the $4,000 paid by the organiser of the Mt Buller (2004) event for that purpose? Nothing has been heard of that amount being used for junior development so far so let us not hold our collective breath.

Jenni said "...I would hope it is not to late for the ACF and ACTJCL to actually talk to each other and sort this out in a way that doesn't penalise children."

If the ACF actually thought that way in respect of the children involved do you really think it would have come to this point of the ACF threatening to ban an entire school community?

Libby said...

When I raised this back in March/April 2006 I was told that the ACF was reaching a point that it had sufficient funds to facilitate new programs and initiatives. To remove or reduce the revenue collected from school children would compromise the ACF's ability to do that. I asked what the programs and initiatives might be. Or even what it was hoped they might be. All the time aware that running such programs depends on more than plans, but also on people willing to run with them.

I appreciate that delivery does depend on people willing to put in the legwork. I appreciate that many on the ACF are delivering on other fronts themselves and wasn't suggesting they personally should be responsible for delivery of what programs were in mind.

However I was left unconvinced of any plans or programs being at any stage of development. As part of the ACTJCL committee of the time I suggested that we had an obligation to have plans for revenues raised above and beyond those required to maintain a firm financial position and meet annual running costs. If you raise significant revenues above those basic figures you have an obligation to develop a plan for those revenues.

To be honest, I don't care what the plans are exactly. I'm more bothered when there isn't one. Nobody is going to argue against contingency plans and saving for a rainy day dollars but at what point do you have an obligation to either deliver a strategic plan or reduce your revenue base?

And at what stage do you have a good look at your organisation and ask about what it is about the way you treat people that makes them disinterested in contributing? Because it's not always a function of everyone out there being an "all talk/complain and no action/effort" type.

Denis Jessop said...

I do not intend to become involved in this discussion but, in light of Libby's customary shot at the ACF no matter that, I should point out that Shaun's inferring that the communication he quoted was the first on the matter between the ACF and the ACTJCL since 2006 is incorrect. Assuming it to be genuine (I haven't actually seen it as an ACF Councillor) it is the most recent of several recent communications on the matter between the two bodies.

Denis Jessop
ACF Vice President

Libby said...

Indeed the most recent of several - recent - communications.

Recent being a fairly significant choice of words when discussing a letter written in 2006.

A letter written in an attempt to put a case in a formal fashion and anticipating a formal response. You know - in the way organisations should deal with one another if seeking to have a matter of dispute properly addressed rather than just bitching about it.

Except we go to a meeting at the 2006 ASTC (December - but that's only 8 or so months after the letter) and nobody there who was on the ACF claimed to know anything about it.

If you try to do things the right way around, and that's possibly even LESS successful than poking people on public forums about it, you end up thinking that the ACF is worth "having a go" at.

Cameron said...

Which states are doing it right.

If the other states, then QLD/ACT must receive a refund, as the ACF has received money not legally theirs.

If QLD/ACT, then what actions are the ACF taking against the other states for deliberately hiding money from the ACF.

That is the first question that needs to be answered.

Libby said...

It's not a question of people acting deliberately to avoid paying the levy. The problem was/is that interschool chess around Australia runs under a variety of formats.

ACTJCL is in dispute with the ACF because that difference was not recognised or factored into the method used to determine the amount each state was to pay.

It's a bit like someone paying for excess water based on a meter reading whilst the house next door gets charged based on how many people live there and then the guy down the road pays based on how many shower heads he has installed.

Anonymous said...

This is not unlike the Matthew Sweeney debacle where the ACF decided to impose penalties on innocent players in a chess event because of a possible decision of the organisers of that event. Perhaps the ACF administration could generate some support for their cause if they penalised the perpetrator instead of the innocent.