7.12.18 Sister Cities Meeting Minutes

Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany; Chamonix, France; Davos, Switzerland; Abetone, Italy;
Queenstown, New Zealand; Shimukappu, Japan; Bariloche, Argentina


July 12, 2018 @ 5:00 pm



1) Transparency- in operations/Bylaws, in finances- City/schools, programs, Budget 2018

2) Build International Exchanges/partners- community outreach, new programs, student exchanges, patrol exchanges, medical exchange

3) Website as central hub- communications & membership

Members In attendance:

President: Danno Lahr

Vice-President: Elise Cohen

Secretary: Anita Moose

Treasurer: ex-officio

Aspen City Council Representative: Ward Hauenstein

Snowmass Representative: absent

Sister Cities Coordinators

Abetone: Chair: absent

Bariloche: Chair: absent Co-chair: Lala Caffarone

Chamonix: Chair: John Armstrong

Garmisch-Partenkirchen: Chair: absent

Queenstown: Chair: absent

Shimukappu:Chair: absent

Davos:Chair: Karinjo DeVore

Sister Cities Student Coordinators: Georgina Levey (phone), Betsy Ann Anastas

Members at Large: Jenny Beltman – absent, Maria Carbonetti – absent, Diane Godfrey – absent

Guests: Mike Marolt, Anthony Lewin, Morris Hogan



  • Approval of minutes
  • Presentation of state of the accounting by Mike Marolt.
  • Introduction of prospective treasurer:
    Morris Hogan, CPA.
    “…grew up here in Aspen and am a graduate of Aspen High School. Although I did not participate in sister city exchanges growing up, I did have the opportunity to travel to both Queenstown and Chamonix – both extraordinary places. Currently I work as a CPA with Karl Adam at his firm, Karl W. Adam, CPA, LLC. Working with him has provided me extensive and broad experience in the accounting realm.” 
  • Vote 
  • Garmisch, discussion: Coordinator/ Passion Play plan 2020. 
  • Introduction Anthony Lewin; City of Aspen: Finance dept and Aspen volunteer fire fighter, former Garmisch-Partenkirchen resident.

Meeting Minutes:


Action Item:

President Danno Lahr:  Meeting was called to order at 5pm.

Danno moved to approve the minutes.

John seconded.

Minutes were approved.


Presentation of state of the accounting by Mike Marolt

Danno Lahr: Welcome to Mike Marolt that we retained in March to help us organize our books and accounting.

Mike Marolt: Betsy Ann, Jill and Mike worked together to organize the student accounts, Garmisch, Queenstown and Middle School, and we are waiting for the Alpine Bank books from the General Fund. The goal is to compile the financials for 2017. For 2018, we will do the same. For those expenses after July 31, 2018 we want by student, by country program, and their balances moving forward. Mike will work with Jill on current trips but the middle school programs are paid in full at the moment.

The financials for 2017-2018 will show revenue and expense. Figure the cost per kid and then send an invoice would be my recommendation. Checks and debit cards will show costs and you can then total them and divide by the total number of students to figure the actual cost per student. I would not encourage the use of debit cards as it’s harder to get the money back should it become stolen or lost. Credit cards are becoming harder to get for non-profits over the past few years.


Compensation is an area of concern. Aspen Sister Cities needs to have W-9s and have a bookkeeper who signs the checks with a second signer. It’s important to figure out the administration costs and trip costs are necessary to create a budget and have a road map.



Betsy Ann is disseminating W-9s.

Morris Hogan is a CPA and could handle the bookkeeping should he be voted in.


Elise Cohen: We are also looking for consistency between trips, for example for Queenstown and the Middle School exchanges.


Danno Lahr: This will help us look at trends for costs over the long term.


Mike Marolt: They (Betsy Ann, Georgina, and Jill) are good at knowing how much costs will be approximately.

2017 financials will be a baseline. 2018 will be more detailed, and 2019 will be even more detailed. For 2019 with costs per each trip for both the middle and high school trips.


Georgina Levey: In the past, a treasurer did all the payments, and three of them (treasurer’s) came and went and each did things the way they wanted so it was hard. Things have shifted.


Mike Marolt: Procedures and centralization of accounting is essential if you don’t have a system in place.


Betsy Ann: Can we clarify how monies will be organized? Parents give the money to Betsy Ann for student trip expenses which goes into the Student Accounts, and stipends would be paid by the treasurer. Correct?


Mike Marolt: Yes, overhead should come from another place (accounting).


Betsy Ann: I used to put everything into QuickBooks but stopped when I was told to.


Danno: How much is your work load for accounting?

Betsy Ann: It depends on the time. In two weeks it will be huge. You don’t want to pay someone to do the bookkeeping.

Mike Marolt: People are passionate but non-profits fail when people aren’t paid what the job is worth.

Georgina: Please give us clarification between a bookkeeper and an accountant.

Mike Marolt: A group leader should not be doing bookkeeping. Right now it works for Betsy Ann and Jill can do this, but moving forward we should look at systems to get the financials done efficiently. We need to look down the road as people leave the organization and retire.


Betsy Ann: Student coordinators are not the trip leaders or chaperones. Some of our chaperones don’t have credit cards to pay for something in an emergency. Sometimes the student coordinators are also the chaperones.


Mike Marolt: It makes sense for the student coordinators to do the bookkeeping. It just means we need to organize it and add it into QuickBooks so financials can be done by the Treasurer.


Elise Cohen: Did we file 2016 tax return? We need clarification and think there is a clerical error.


Mike Marolt: We still need to file the post card informational filing. There is money sitting in accounts with very little activity.


Danno Lahr: We have made progress with the accounting.


Karinjo: We have a grant that has certain parameters that describe how we can use the funds. We need to look at this.


Mike Marolt: What you all are doing is amazing and you are a true non-profit and there is an opportunity to grow this thing, as you have reserve funds and are fiscally responsible and do trips at a low cost. This is one of the coolest non-profits I’ve ever worked with. It’s a great opportunity for kids to see the world and I know how difficult this is and how beneficial it is. It’s the coolest non-profit in town.


Elise Cohen: Do we need to be concerned for penalty (on taxes)?


Mike Marolt: 2017 we are late on the postcard, but it’s likely not a problem but it needs to be filed.


Betsy Ann: One last thing, it takes about 16 months to cycle through the trips from deposit to when the final reciprocal exchanges occur.


Mike Marolt: After a few years, you will be able to extrapolate the actual trip costs.


Betsy Ann: How much cushion should we have?


Mike Marolt: As far as refunds, I would not promise refunds to anyone.


Elise Cohen: The cushion is left over from many years and is used to cover costs for higher trips.

Mike Marolt: I’ve seen transfers within accounts. Emulate what is being done at the middle school for the high school trips. That’s my recommendation.


Elise Cohen: Do the Middle School trips need to be separated?

Betsy Ann: The Middle School has 4 accounts.


Mike Marolt: Yes. And the cushion amount isn’t too much. Extra could be moved into a General Fund.

Betsy Ann: A Student Exchange General Fund?

Mike Marolt: Yes.


Betsy Ann: Students can earn all the money through the Ducky Derby except for $350 that families and the students need to contribute.


Discussion: Thank you to everyone for collaboration on this.


Introduction of prospective treasurer: Morris Hogan, CPA.

Danno Lahr: Welcome Morris Hogan, CPA. We have a great program and would like some help with our big picture, and less of our accounting. We need a treasurer.

Morris Hogan: He has spent a great deal of time talking with Karl Adam about this position, a former Aspen Sister Cities treasurer.



Betsy Ann, Jill, and Danno spoke to Morris last week. He wants to be a part due to his passion for traveling and the program, has done exchanges abroad. Danno gave Morris the job description.


John Armstrong: I’m glad to know you’ve already met.


Morris: The only questions are about when and how can we get QuickBooks in the cloud and get everyone up to speed. You don’t want to get behind.


Lala: How do we pay for dinners? Do we do the payment ourselves and then get reimbursed?


Discussion: For Bariloche for example, we vote at the meeting to pay for certain guests, and Griff pays either with the a check from Sister Cities or a card. We could do expense reports. We need a process.


Karinjo: Another small non-profit that she works with allows credit cards with Community.


Action Item:

Danno made a motion to approve Morris Hogan as treasurer.

Karinjo seconded.

Motion passed to approve Morris Hogan as treasurer. Welcome to Aspen Sister Cities Morris!


Introduction Anthony Lewin

Danno: Welcome Anthony Lewin. Anthony registered as a member of the Sister Cities website and Danno did some research and found out he works for the town. Would you like to do more professional exchanges?

Anthony: He lived in Garmisch for a year, moved to Aspen because of its’ similarities and moved here with his wife. He’s also a volunteer firefighter. Speaks a little German but it was hard to practice in Garmisch. He plans to be here a while in Aspen.

Elise Cohen: We have some things on the agenda to work through.


Betsy Ann: I would support Georgina being a co-chair with Anthony so he can learn how it works.


Georgina: I have met with Nancy and would mentor Anthony and turn over the reins to Anthony wherever he is ready.


Danno: We need all hands on deck.


Anita: Do you have the time for this Georgina?

Georgina: I wouldn’t have taken this on if I didn’t have the have the time.


Danno: Is there a conflict with with a paid and a non-paid position?

Discussion: Jill would be the student trip coordinator and Georgina will be the city coordinator so no conflict.


Elise: The Oberammergau Passion Play trip should run independently from the Sister City organization.


Georgina: I want to go with my mother on the trip and I would be willing to accept any help possible.


Discussion: Explanation that Nancy is retiring and asking if Anthony would be willing to get involved, help plan the trip, and later transition into the coordinator position. Oct 2018 is when tickets go on sale.


We need to vote Georgina in and appoint Anthony to help with planning.


Action Item:

John motioned to vote in Georgina as the interim Sister City Garmisch coordinator.

Danno seconded.

Motion passed.


Discussion: How do members become a part of the committee? In the past it’s been ad hoc. What procedure do we have? Anyone can come to meetings.


Danno can appoint as exofficio. John will connect with Anthony to fill him on the history of Sister Cities.


Anita: I will not be able to work on the Bylaws. Can someone head it and I’ll help as I can and help get documents coordinated? I’ll send the old and the current revisions to everyone and the people on the committee can edit when they meet.

Discussion: Let’s get old business taken care of next meeting.


Karinjo: Shared flag that was created a logo in 1994. This was a Herbert Byer design and she gave us the snowflake artwork. She wanted to make sure that we remain true to our flag. Sales would come to sister cities and Carl’s is selling them. We should be proceeds. Karinjo will follow up.


Ward Hauenstein: I will talk to Mitzi about the logo/flag.


Action Item:

Danno make a motion to adjourn the meeting.

John seconded the motion.

Motion passed.


Future/Parking Lot:



Abetone report:

Bariloche report:

Chamonix report:

Davos report:

Garmisch-Partenkirchen report:

Queenstown report:

Shimukappu report:

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