Archive for the ‘Finances’ Category

2011 Finances

Monday, January 9th, 2012

We present, for your review, this summary of our income and expenses for the past year.

2011 was an unusual year for the Lake Fairlee Association for several reasons.  Because of our 2010 herbicide treatment we started the year with an unfunded obligation to pay the $37,300 balance owed to Lycott, Inc.  On the other hand, our lake was virtually free of the E. milfoil that had taken over many sections of our shoreline over the previous decade.  Finally, we were unable to apply for a State grant this year, as explained in this earlier post.

In 2010 we asked our donors to increase their gifts, if possible, with the expectation that in 2011 we would not need som much support.  With the loss of the expected money from the State we were forced to ask our donors to make up the difference, and were gratified by their generous response.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

State of Vermont $0
Dues $2,700
Donations $42,160
Three Towns $12,000
Interest $78
Total 2011 Income $56,938
Greeter program
Salary $4,878
Benefits $1,904
Total $6,782
Balance from 2010 $37,700
Pulling & barriers $13,300
Total $51,000
Accounting $1,372
Insurance & fees $370
Office, postage, etc. $528
Annual dinner (net) $64
Merchandise (net) $126
Total 2011 Expenses $60,242

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


We budgeted $800 for our annual meeting and dinner.  We took in $816 and spent $880.

The merchandise account includes the costs of maps (printed this year) and LFA plaques (last year), net of receipts for their sale.  We have inventory left over, so there should be clear income in the future.

A Financial Setback

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

For at least a decade the Lake Fairlee Association has relied on annual grants from the State of Vermont to help fund our milfoil control efforts.  In recent years these grants have provided more than a third of our annual operating budgets.  The monies were provided through the Aquatic Nuisance Species Grant-in-Aid program administered by the Department of Environmental Conservation.

One of the requirements of these grants is that the applicant must be a municipality.  For years the Town of Thetford has generously agreed to be our ‘applicant,’ and we have submitted the paperwork in their name.  They have received the grant awards and passed the proceeds to the Lake Fairlee Association.  The Association has employed the divers, hired the contractors, and managed the milfoil program.  The Association has prepared the application forms at the beginning of the year and the reports at the end of each year. The State has been aware of this arrangement, and the employees of the DEC understand the reason. No single town has taken responsibility for the lake, and the Associaiton was the logical entity to undertake the contol of Eurasian milfoil when it was discovered.

This year the Town of Thetford declined to apply for the grant on our behalf.  We had been aware for some time that the arrangement stretched their financial accountability standards.  After they signed over the checks to us they had no control of where the money was going.  Their auditor found this unacceptable.  Therefore our historical arrangement could no longer be maintained.  Any acceptable scheme would have to vest program and check writing control in an official Town entity, like a commission.  Even if this would work, it would take a while to implement.  And the deadline for the grant application was fast approaching.

We approached West Fairlee, and then Fairlee, to see if either might be able to help.  The West Fairlee Selectboard asked the same questions of their legal advisors, and confronted the same problem as Thetford.  It turns out that they share the same auditor.  Fairlee already has a commission which applies for and manages grants for Lake Morey, but they too determined that we were  too late to make it work this year

So this year we did not apply for a State grant.  This means either that we will have to curtail our program or we will have to find other sources of revenue.  At this point it is too early to know how we will proceed. Stay tuned.

2009 Finances

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

This year the Lake Fairlee Association again was faced with declining revenues.  We received support from only about 70 donors this year, compared with about 100 last.  One possible reason for this is the withdrawal of support by contributors who think that we should be using chemicals to treat the milfoil, following  neighboring Lake Morey’s recent success.  Support from the three towns stayed constant.  Grateful thanks to the citizens of Fairlee, Thetford, and West Fairlee.

This year’s income:  (numbers are rounded off)

          dues and donations    $41,500      43.5%
                 state of VT    $42,000      44%
                 three towns    $12,000      12.5%
                total income    $95,500

Our divers this year agreed to work without a raise, which seemed fair in the present economy, and they worked a shorter season.  Insurance went up a little, as did gasoline costs.   Other expenses stayed much the same as previous years.

                    salaries    $62,500      72%
                    benefits     $8,200       9%
       equipment and repairs     $1,000       1%
         supplies (air, gas)     $3,900       4%
   insurance & workers comp.     $5,400       6%
                 lake survey     $4,000       5%
misc (including bookkeeping)     $1,700       2%
              total expenses    $86,700

We were left with a surplus of $9,000, which we will carry forward to next year.  $7,000 of this was received after the end of the season from the towns of Fairlee and Thetford, who make their contributions after they collect their property taxes in October.

Further explanation of just what is included in each category can be found in the post immediately following this one.

The Permit Application Process

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Frequently when scientists from the State are asked questions about chemical treatment of our lake they suggest that we look to Lake Morey’s aquatic herbicide permit for guidance.  This document is available on the Department of Conservation’s website, and we have previously provided a link to it on this blog. Because it is 34 pages long and may seem daunting, we will try to summarize the parts of it that might apply to Lake Fairlee’s permit process.

Lake Morey’s Herbicide Permit

There are two sections to the document.  The first 9 pages contain the actual terms of the permit,  There are 36 sections and numerous subsections spelling out the requirements under which the herbicide application may proceed.  Among many other terms are included

  • Specifications about the herbicide to be used
  • Instructions for the disposal of surplus herbicide and containers
  • Detailed instructions to ensure actual notice of abutting and downstream landowners
  • Requirements for posting signs every 1000 feet around the lake
  • Who may actually put the herbicide in the lake
  • A requirement that all benthic barriers be removed from treated areas
  • Restrictions on swimming/boating/fishing for two days
  • Restrictions on use of lake water for irrigation for up to 120 days
  • Frequent water sampling and testing
  • Reporting requirements

The second section is called Findings.  It enumerates the conclusions that the Department of Environmental Conservation has come to that provide the legal justification for the issuance of the permit.  There are five ‘findings’ that they have to determine in the alternative before a chemical permit can be issued.

1.  There is no reasonable non-chemical alternative.  Here they enumerate the various milfoil control methods and explain why each is ineffective or inappropriate in this situation.

2.  There is acceptable risk to non-target environment.  Here exhaustive evidence is presented to explain how and why triclopyr will not adversely affect other plant or animal species.  This section is nine pages long, and relies on Vermont’s growing body of experience with chemical control methods, including tables of data from Lake Morey itself.  Its primary concern is that other plant species in the lake do not suffer as the result of our actions.  It talks about the timing of the treatment and the concentration of chemical to be used.  It also addresses specific concerns raised by VT Department of Fish and Wildlife about toxicity to fish eggs that might be in the targeted areas.

3.  There is negligible risk to public health.   This section is the result of the Department of Health’s review of the proposed treatment.  It prescribes many of the restrictions that find their way into the requirements of the first section of the permit, like how far downstream must be placarded and tested, and when various water uses may resume.  It concludes that if all of the restrictions are met, there will be negligible risk to public health.

4.  A long range management plan has been developed which incorporates a schedule of pesticide minimization.  Here the state seems to be concerned that the chemical treatment is an integrated part of a macro health plan for the lake.  In particular, they want a five year plan that employs non-chemical measures where they can be effective.

5.  There is a public benefit to be achieved from the application of the pesticide.   This section seems to be a recitation of the environmental and economic harm done by milfoil that the proposed treatment will alleviate.

Our Comments

The State of Vermont is very strict in its regulation of pesticides.  There seems to be quite a lot of requirements and restrictions built into the process.  While we are not glad for the amount of work  to complete the application, we support the State’s generally restrictive attitude towards chemicals.  We cannot be sure how nearly Lake Fairlee will track Lake’s Morey’s process.  Nonetheless we are grateful for their proximity and their similarity.  As we proceed in the process we will learn more, and will share it with you here.

Milfoil on a Budget

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

More than 90% of the money we raise goes to salaries and benefits for our divers. The next portion pays for gasoline for the outboards (increased 50% this year) and for compressed air refills for their tanks.  There are scant extra funds for equipment and repairs.

Sometimes this results in wasted time. This photo was taken one afternoon when the 25Hp Mercury that drives the pontoon boat had broken down.  Ira is visible at the far left trying to crank it, while Leon dragged the pontoon boat and a trash rack full of wet milfoil halfway down the lake with the 8Hp skiff.  It took several days to get the Mercury repaired, and the repairs cost more than they might have because of our hurry to get it back in service.  We have no backup.

We rely on the generosity of our members and friends for our boats.  Most have been donated or home-built.  We are fortunate to have a multi-talented dive crew.  They are regularly able to coax the hydraulic pump for the trash rack back into health, to fiberglass patches on the skiffs, or to weld new engine mounts as required.

Our divers provide their own gear, from tanks and regulators to diving suits.  They are unfortunately used to making do with equipment that is barely adequate.  Safety is not being compromised, but comfort and convenience are.  The LFA board has wanted to buy the divers new dry suits for at least two years, but we just don’t have the money — or, rather, we have decided to spend the limited money we have directly on the milfoil problem.

Our greatest need now is for some new outboard motors for next year.  We are hoping to find someone who might donate one in the 20-30hp range.  Two of our three usable motors are two-stroke – the kind where you mix oil with the gasoline.  We want to use only four-stroke motors if possible as they are much more environmentally friendly to the lake.

So thank you for your help so far, and please be on the look out for someone who is about to get rid of a used outboard motor.  But not too used, please.

Year End Finances

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

The milfoil program costs have been paid, and we have compiled what will probably remain the final budget figures for 2007. We finished the year with (a little) money in the bank, and without having to go into debt. We had to let our divers go a week or two earlier than we would have liked, due to budget constraints. Nonetheless we had a productive season fighting the good fight to keep the milfoil at bay.

In a spirit of transparency we want to let you know where the money comes from and where it goes.

  • Income
    • $44,864 Income from the State of Vermont
    • $10,000 Income from municipalities
    • $53,143 Income from memberships, donations, and events
  • $108,007
  • Expenses
    • $89,872 Divers’ salaries and taxes
    • $7,684 Dive program costs: air, gas, repairs, supplies, etc.
    • $4,579 Insurance (liability and workers’ compensation)
    • $3,529 Other: office supplies, postage, PO Box rental, etc.
  • $105,664

Our operating surplus for 2007 was $2343.

What your contributions and tax dollars bought:

  • 2866 Divers’ “Catch Bags” full of hand picked milfoil (just more than 1 cu. ft. each)
  • 2100 cu. ft. of suction harvested milfoil (more densely packed)
  • 150+ logged hours of volunteers hand pulling milfoil
  • 193 sheets (6’x100′) of bottom barrier in place — about 2.0 acres with overlap

On behalf of all of us who share an interest in preserving the natural beauty and economic vitality of Lake Fairlee, we thank you for your support.

Paying for the milfoil program

Saturday, June 16th, 2007

Last year (2006) the Lake Fairlee Association’s milfoil program cost just about $100,000. Of this, $52,000 came from the State of Vermont[1], $11,000 was contributed by the three surrounding towns, and $37,000 was donated to the milfoil effort by a disappointingly small number of our members and friends.

There is another budget figure, one which includes goods and services donated by members and supporters. The State of Vermont allows us to count these “in-kind” donations as part of the “local match” for our Aquatic Nuisance Species Management Project grant. Last year we were able to document dover 1000 hours of volunteer help, valued at over $17,000, including administrative, education, scuba, and hand pulling. Also we counted over $4000 worth of donated services, including use of property for lake access, boats, trailers, and office space.

This year (2007) the State is able to contribute only $35,000[2], which is $16,000 less than last year, a reduction by over 30%. To be able to continue the milfoil program at the same level we will have to raise the difference ourselves, plus a little more to account for the increased price of gasoline and other consumables. This warrants further analysis of how our fundraising works.

Last year the Lake Fairlee Association received $910 in membership dues from approximately 80 members. It raised an additional $37,300 in support of its milfoil eradication program from a slightly smaller number of donors. To be able to continue our work this year at the same level as last year we will have to raise nearly half again as much.

The Association is managed by a small group of dedicated volunteers, who receive no pay. Boardmembers meet monthly through the year. (okay, we lose a few in the winter) We have plenty of room to improve. One of our first goals is better communication with members of our community. We hope to engage a greater number of supporters, volunteers, and donors. If you have any suggestions, or want to help in any way, please email



[1] Each year we apply for a Grant-in-aid from the Department of Environmental Conservation of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.

[2] They said that the legislature allocated the same amount this year as last, but that there were many more qualified applicants who received a share of the funds.