My last report was posted to the CCRA.US website on August 1, 2022. During the last 31 days I have had multiple meetings with many of our members, attorneys, and our bank. I’m sending this report directly to members of the repeater since they may not check the Contra Costa Repeater Association (CCRA) website for updates. If you know of a member who didn’t get this update please have them contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will add them to the official CCRA distribution list. In going over the list I found that I was not on the list and have added a few missing email addresses as well.
I will make every effort in the following sections to provide you with information that you can use to make an informed decision regarding incorporation of the CCRA. If my explanation is not clear or I miss a possible question please send me an email no later than September 15, 2022. I will send out a follow-up email to the distribution list providing my answers to all questions.
I ask for you to vote by sending me an email to support or reject the recommendation to incorporate by September 30, 2022.
The CCRA group was started in 1977 by 4 teenagers who wanted to build a repeater but didn’t have enough money to do so. The teenagers imagined and created the Contra Costa Repeater Association, (CCRA), to fund through a membership the design and construction of a VHF repeater and to provide a mobile telephone capability called an “autopatch”. The teenagers were very successful in building multiple repeaters and eventually linked them together into a repeater network. All of this was done without formalizing their actions with the State of California or IRS.
In 1988, we finally got around to getting a Tax ID number and opened an account with the Bank of America. Since I was the oldest of the four founding members, and I had a good credit history, I tied the account to my personal financial information for everything we were doing in order to get the various needed services. The four founders always resisted organizational formality since we knew the pecking order of who was in the founding group. The organization was set up to be run by the technical group and the members provided the funds to pay for us to build the network.
Around 2003, Brad Watson, WA6AEO (SK) decided that Ham Radio was dead and he dropped out of the group. As one of the founders I inherited the Trusteeship for all repeaters along with the liabilities which I didn’t fully recognize or fully appreciate. For seven years we waited for Brad to change his mind but he never did. In 2010 the group put together our first of many Bylaws for the CCRA. The group discussed incorporation several times and rejected the decision to incorporate due to the complexities of being incorporated.
The aging process sneaks up on you slowly and then one day you realize you’re no longer a teenager. That happened to me in 2020. In 2022 I finally got around to creating a Revocable Trust and discovered I was pretty much on the legal hook for the CCRA. While I don’t mind responsibilities for the CCRA, I think it is in the best interest of the group to establish its own legal identity.
I’ve talked to 3 different attorneys about the CCRA legal status and financial ties to me personally. All of the attorneys indicate that through incorporation the group and I can sever the commingled financial ties.
They recommend we close the existing bank account and open a new account under a corporation name and new taxpayer ID. They recommend we establish a not-for-profit corporation organized as a social welfare entity commonly known a 501 (c) (3). I asked how much annual paperwork would be required and they said that as long as we have less than $50K a year in income, we could use the “EZ” form with the State and IRS and report once a year. Another benefit would be to apply for a tax exempt status which they believe is doable. This would give the members a potential tax deduction when filing their income taxes. The group may also qualify for outside corporate donations to support our community services. In closing the attorneys estimate it will take less than 6 months to complete this effort.
I contacted a sampling of several of our members and spent a fair amount of time on the phone briefing them on my ongoing discussions with the attorneys as well as discussions with the bank. There were concerns about the increase in paperwork as a corporation. They recognized the legal and financial problems and were interested in resolving it. All members I talked to seemed interested in continuing the CCRA and incorporating.
The CCRA has had a banking account with the Bank of America, (B of A), since 1988 and currently has $4,619.33 in the account. I have instructed the B of A to freeze access to the account until the group sorts out what direction it wants to take in the future. In talking with the bank it has become very clear that the original type of account we opened in 1988 has morphed into an almost undefinable account in their current bank account classification system. There have been a lot of changes to the banking system over the years and what we started with doesn’t exist any longer. The B of A is in agreement to close the existing account and reopen it as a corporate account if that is what the group wants to do. There was one minor glitch. The current account requires a minimum of $3,000 to avoid a monthly service maintenance fee. With a new account the minimum balance would now be $5,000 to avoid a fee. I believe B of A is not interested in small accounts with balances under $5,000. Bottom line is we will probably need to move our monies to another bank or credit union.
CCRA operating costs
The CCRA has been very fortunate in having bought commercial grade repeater antennas and equipment over the last 45 years. Most of the equipment will last from 15 to 25 years without the need for replacement. When a repeater does fail it will cost just under $3,000 to replace the equipment. If an antenna fails you will pay around $2,000 for the antenna.
The days of the CCRA climbing the tower to work on the antenna repair or replacement are over. Due to aging tower climbers and insurance our site managers will require us to use their approved vendor for all antenna work. Currently it costs about $5,000 for a tower crew to replace an antenna.
As you can see one major failure of an antenna system will easily wipe out our current bank account amount of $4,619.33. Historically we have asked for donations during these times of financial distress and the membership has always come through.
Our biggest fixed costs are the phone bills that run about $45 per month. We have no site rental costs.
Cost of Incorporation
In talking to the various attorneys they recommended a firm in Roseville California called Newpoint Law Group, LLP that specializes in corporation law. Specifically they have worked on numerous not for profit corporations that work closely with government agencies. They come highly recommended and have the experience we are looking for. They have provided a fixed cost quote of $2,500 to prepare all the documents needed to incorporate the CCRA as a not-for-profit 501 (c)(3). The State and Federal filling fees should be no more than a couple of hundred dollars. The price quote is reasonable.
- Engage the legal services of Newpoint Law Group, LLP to prepare all documents needed to incorporate the Contra Costa Repeater Association.
- Authorize Steven Overacker, as the CCRA Trustee to work with Newpoint Law Group, LLP to establish the Contra Costa Repeater Association as a corporation.
- Authorize Steven Overacker to pay out of CCRA funds incorporation costs not to exceed $2,700.00.
- Authorize the transfer of CCRA funds to another banking or savings institution.
I’m asking you as members of the CCRA to vote for the approval of the recommendations for incorporation. I think this is the best direction to take for the continued survival of the CCRA by establishing itself as a legal entity. If you have any questions or comments please send me an email at: email@example.com by September 15th. Once you have decided your vote please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know of your decision. Voting on the incorporation question will close September 30, 2022 at which time I will tally and report the results.
As a group we have operated the repeater network under my personal callsign for many years and I greatly appreciate the honor and privilege of using my callsign in such a manner. My hope for the future is to be able to continue to provide public service communications to the communities where we live.
One of the Founders of the CCRA, Trustee and Licensee of the WA6HAM repeater system