Re: sliding scale
From: Lynn Nadeau (
Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2002 14:35:01 -0700 (MST)
>One idea which has been to define a range of fees for each
>unit type, and allow individuals to use those ranges as a sliding scale.
>Any shortfall at the end of the year would be addressed by having all
>households split the cost of the shortfall equally.
>Does anyone out there have any experience with such a structure, or
>opinions/comments/suggestions on the idea? 

At RoseWind Cohousing this year, we successfully used a sliding scale for 

1) Over a couple of months of discussions, we determined our desired 
total budget, and with this tentative budget, had the goal of funding it 
using a sliding scale, and also offering confidentiality to households 
during the process of choosing contribution levels. 

2) We set a standard amount, that would be what each would pay if the 
desired budget were divided equally. For simplicity, let's say that was 
$1000 per household for the year. It was about that.

3) We determined a minimum contribution of 75% of that amount, so say 
$750. No maximum.

4) We gave each household slips of paper for bidding on rounds one, two, 
and three. Those who could not attend the meeting could submit them ahead 
of time. Bids two and three had to be the same or more than the prior 
round's bid. At the meeting, the system was reviewed, and the first round 
of bids was collected in a hat (included those submitted by absentees). 

5) We took a break while two Finance people added up the amount in a back 
room. They then returned and announced how much the shortfall was, 
relative to the desired total. We bid again, with a number of people 
voluntarily raising their bid. The process was then repeated and by the 
final/third round, we were within $250 of the total. 

6) The Finance Committee then let it be known that either the shortfall 
would be made up by donations, if any were tendered, or they would figure 
out how to trim that much out of the budget, based on previous input they 
had had from the committees and the community about the various items 
within the budget. A donor covered the shortfall. End of story. 

We were pleased that *as a group* we had collectively funded all our 
budget items. 

>One of the concerns that has
>>been raised is how we would handle someone who consistently "abuses" the
You have to really let go of this. By setting a minimum, you are saying 
it IS ok to contribute at that level. It is evident to everyone that if 
we don't contribute as much as we can, our budget will not be funded, and 
we won't get some of what we had decided we wanted. Those who offer 
amounts above the average also have to be trusted to stay within their 
comfort zone. It worked out well. 

Next year we will evolve our process for setting the original budget 
proposal -- using articulated goals and objectives as a guide for 
committees more than we have till now-- but my guess is that we will 
again use the sliding scale. 

Lynn Nadeau, RoseWind Cohousing
Port Townsend Washington (Victorian seaport, music, art, nature)

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