1) Brooks House Finance is run through two accounts:
a) the Brooks account - which is the house's money used to pay for utilities and food; and
b) the COUCH account - used to pay for maintenance, rent and other issues affecting the Co-Op Cooperative of which Brooks House is a member
2) At the end of each month each resident at Brooks House will owe two checks:
a) A Food/Utility Rent Check to be paid to "Brooks" -- the amount owed varies from month-to-month. An example of how Food/Utility rent is calculated can be seen on this spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Am0QXOxApq4KdGdXZjlGQllKTVl3MElMT25GcG9IVEE&usp=sharing
b) A rent check to be paid to "COUCH." The amount of rent owed does NOT vary from month-to-month. It is the amount you agreed to pay when you signed your lease.
3) Where to place checks to Brooks and COUCH?
Please see the attached image (apologies for blurriness).
Both Food/Utility Rent Check (to Brooks) and Rent Check (to COUCH) should be placed in the folder "Bills You Owe" by the deadline specified on a monthly basis by me, Noah Lenstra, Brooks House finance coordinator
4) When do I owe my checks?
The deadline for paying Food/Utility Rent and COUCH rent varies from month-to-month. As soon as I receive all the information needed to calculate food/utility rent I put together the spreadsheet and send it out to the Brooks Google Group (make sure you are subscribed and make sure house emails are not going to spam!!). You then have one week from when I send out this spreadsheet to pay your checks. Usually checks are owed the first week of the month.
5) What if I pay late?
If you pay late you are assessed a $10 fine, which is added to your Food/Utility rent for the following month.
6) What if I have a receipt to get reimbursed?
When you are scheduled to cook for the whole house you are able to spend up to $10 of additional money on your meal to purchase ingredients beyond those available in the house. Please place receipts to be reimbursed in the folder marked "Reimbursement Receipts" with your name written in permanent market on the receipt. This amount is then subtracted from your food/utility rent for the following month.
7) What if I am out of town?
If you are out of town for four or more consecutive days you are eligible for a discount in food rent. These discounts are assessed the month BEFORE -- so if you know you will be out of town for a week in September, you need to email me by the last week in August to get your discount applied.
8) What if I have a car and want to park it in the house lot? or if I have an a/c unit
If you are planning to have a car in the Brooks House parking lot, you will be assessed a $17 /month fee. We also charge $15 a month if you plan on using a/c during the hot months of the year. There is no central air conditioning at brooks.
9) How much is food rent?
Currently we all pay $36.25 per week for food. This amount may go up or down depending on the status of our budget. In the past we paid $45/week and we will return to this amount in September unless we vote as a house to keep the reduced food rent we tried experimentally in Summer 2014.
10) What happens if I miss a house responsibility?
If you are responsible for something at Brooks and you don't do it you are assessed a fine. The fine system is being revised for the new House Handbook, but currently we charge $10 per missed weekly chore (plus additional cooking responsibilities), $10 for late rent checks, $15 for missed cooking (plus add'l cooking), and $10 for missing two consecutive house meetings.
11) How do I find out how my food rent is being applied?
Just ask the food shoppers! You can also request food be bought with your food rent using the whiteboard in the kitchen (we can't promise to buy expensive food items). You can also request that a particular item be picked up on the bulk food orders. The best way to propose that a food item be bought on a regular basis by the house is at House meetings.
12) How much money do we have in our account?
We currently owe some reimbursements so the total currently available balance in the Brooks account is hard to pin down. A conservative estimate is that within the Brooks account we have between $3500 and $4000, which is a very healthy balance going into the new year (by comparison at the beginning of 2013-2014 the balance had dipped below $1000). I will give updates on our account at house meetings. As a reminder our Brooks house account is not used for major house maintenance. The funding for large maintenance projects for the house comes from the COUCH account -- the account to which you pay your monthly rent.
13) I have a question on the Brooks account, who do I ask?
Ask me! Renae Geier (firstname.lastname@example.org) or just stop me in the house or at the house meeting for an issue you think pertinent to the house as a whole
14) I have a question on the COUCH account, who do I ask?
As Brooks finance coordinator, I do not have direct access to the COUCH account (only the Brooks account). COUCH hires a book-keeper, Daniella, to look after the COUCH account. I can forward your inquiry to her, and she usually responds within the week. Since I forward your rent checks to Daniella, there is usually a 1-2 week delay between you paying your COUCH rent, and the checks being deposited. By comparison when you pay your food/utility rent (to Brooks), the checks are deposited within 1-2 days of the deadline. Aki, who is COUCH president, also has access to the COUCH account.