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Is 2/3 vote required?


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I belong to an organization that does not stipulate the amount of annual dues in the bylaws as outlined in RONR - Article Members. 

An annual budget is drafted and the Financial Committee recommends the amount for dues under Receivables based on the number of members and obligations the organization must meet to remain financially solvent. The membership votes for the annual budget’s adoption.

I have a few questions: 

1. Is this considered a special rule of order? Because dues fees relate to business transactions.

2. If this is considered a special rule of order should the budget be adopred by  a 2/3 majority?

3. Are there any other RONR references I should review?

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Do your bylaws say anything about dues? You say they don't stipulate an amount, but do they authorize charging dues? Do they authorize anyone to set the rate?

Anyway, to answer your question, no, dues are not a special rule of order. Rules of order deal with the conduct of business at meetings, not business transactions. Dues need to be authorized in the bylaws.

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Under an Article titled “Dues and Fees” it states each member will pay the annual chapter dues in full by the end of the year.  That’s  all.  

Can a Point of Order be raised because no amount has been agreed upon in the bylaws?

Edited by Jenn
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It would be good to see the exact wording of the bylaws. I am hoping that it specifies who gets to set the annual dues.

Failing that, you can make a reasonable argument that by approving the budget the organisation, at a general meeting, has also set the dues for the year.

I believe a majority vote is adequate for this purpose.

Edited by Atul Kapur
Added last sentence.
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5 hours ago, Atul Kapur said:

It would be good to see the exact wording of the bylaws. I am hoping that it specifies who gets to set the annual dues.

 

I agree - if it doesn't specify, then the members may set the level of dues by an original main motion. I'd add, just because the topic is dues, that, unless the bylaws specify otherwise, a member who fails to pay dues does not lose rights, unless a disciplinary process is used. 

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10 hours ago, Jenn said:

Under an Article titled “Dues and Fees” it states each member will pay the annual chapter dues in full by the end of the year.  That’s  all.  

Can a Point of Order be raised because no amount has been agreed upon in the bylaws?

In the ordinary case, the bylaws either specify the amount of dues or, failing that, specify how the amount of dues is to be set. In the long run, it would be advisable to amend the bylaws to clarify this.

Nonetheless, if the bylaws provide that members shall pay the annual chapter dues, then this clearly must be done. I concur with my colleagues that if nothing else is said on the subject, it seems reasonable that this would be set by the membership, by an original main motion.

As to the vote required now, that may depend on what motions have been adopted relating to the dues in the past. If it has always been set in the manner described above (adopting the dues for the upcoming year), then I think a majority vote would be sufficient. If a motion had been adopted specifying that the dues would be a certain amount for an indefinite period of time, then it seems to me that changing the dues would be a motion to amend something previously adopted, which requires a 2/3 vote, a vote of a majority of the entire membership, or a majority vote with with previous notice.

Edited by Josh Martin
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I'm in near total agreement with Mr. Martin, but it would also be possible to adopt language to allow the membership, or the board, to change the dues at indefinite intervals without requiring a 2/3 vote.  Something like:  "Membership dues shall be that amount which the board may set from time to time by majority vote."

In fact, even without any existing language, while I agree that the membership would set the amount, I think a reasonable person might argue that the act of dues setting could be interpreted as having been fully carried out once the treasurer is informed of the change, and thus require only a majority vote for subsequent dues settings.  Admitting that possibility would make it a matter of interpretation for the membership to decide by the process of point-of-order [and appeal] which would settle the matter at least until the bylaws could be disambiguated. 

Just some free advice, worth every penny.  🙂 

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Wouldn't it matter what the motion setting dues says? If it says "2010 dues shall be $20," I'd be hard-pressed to say it takes anything other than a majority vote to set 2011 dues. The OP is roughly like this since the adoption takes place within an annual budget. If it says "dues shall be $20 hereafter," then I agree it takes a motion to amend something previously adopted.

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8 hours ago, Gary Novosielski said:

I'm in near total agreement with Mr. Martin, but it would also be possible to adopt language to allow the membership, or the board, to change the dues at indefinite intervals without requiring a 2/3 vote.  Something like:  "Membership dues shall be that amount which the board may set from time to time by majority vote."

In fact, even without any existing language, while I agree that the membership would set the amount, I think a reasonable person might argue that the act of dues setting could be interpreted as having been fully carried out once the treasurer is informed of the change, and thus require only a majority vote for subsequent dues settings.  Admitting that possibility would make it a matter of interpretation for the membership to decide by the process of point-of-order [and appeal] which would settle the matter at least until the bylaws could be disambiguated. 

Just some free advice, worth every penny.  🙂 

I agree that, with the bylaws silent on dues (except for the simple fact that dues exist), the assembly is free to adopt a rule such as the one you have suggested, although it would be preferable in my opinion to add the proposed rule to the bylaws.

I also agree with the second paragraph, to the extent that I agree that such an interpretation is reasonable, although I would not personally agree with this interpretation.

If all the bylaws say is that annual chapter dues must be paid in full by the end of the year, and say absolutely nothing else on the subject, then I think there are potentially a great many reasonable interpretations of such an extremely ambiguous rule, which is why the bylaws should be amended as soon as possible to clarify this matter.

5 hours ago, Joshua Katz said:

Wouldn't it matter what the motion setting dues says? If it says "2010 dues shall be $20," I'd be hard-pressed to say it takes anything other than a majority vote to set 2011 dues. The OP is roughly like this since the adoption takes place within an annual budget. If it says "dues shall be $20 hereafter," then I agree it takes a motion to amend something previously adopted.

I agree entirely with this.

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