Spending Policy


Approved by the Board of Directors on May 1, 1986

Approved by the General Membership on May 20, 1986

Revised by the General Membership on May 18, 1989; September 25, 1991; October 13, 1992; January 6, 1994; January 18, 2007; May 17, 2018



The purpose of a spending policy is to provide guidelines to control spending.

Ultimate control of spending in the Co-op rests with the membership. The spending programme that members wish to implement is established in the budgets that they approve annually. Responsibility for day-to-day administration of the budgets is delegated by the members to the Co-op's Board of Directors, committees, and staff.

In order for the spending policy to be effective, it must simultaneously:

  • be restrictive enough to ensure that spending is undertaken according to the spending programme approved in the budgets;
  • be able to ensure that significant expenditures that are controversial or are not dealt with in the Co-op's annual budgets are approved by the membership and/or the committees involved;
  • ensure that committees have an active role in the administration of Co-op resources that affect their areas of responsibility; and
  • be flexible enough for all the Board and staff to make the day-to-day spending decisions necessary to manage the Co-op.

Article 1:        Operating Budget

The operating budget is a tool. It allows the Co-op to predict its day-to-day expenses for a year and to calculate the revenue required to meet those expenses.

The operating budget is broken down into various categories, with the amount of money that is expected to be spent or received in each category during the year shown separately. Some budget categories are broken down into subcategories to provide more detail about expenditures or income. Each category of the budget shall be accompanied by notes that are sufficiently detailed to allow meaningful discussion by members.

Windmill Line's fiscal year begins on April 1. At least ten weeks prior to that date, an operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year will be presented to a general members' meeting. The members have the right to question and, if necessary, alter the budget. Once approved by the general membership, the budget authorizes staff, committees, and the Board to incur expenses according to the provisions of this spending policy.

Article 2:        Types of Expenses

2.1       Budgeted Expenses

These are expenses that have been anticipated in the budgetary process. There are two types of budgeted expenses, automatic and purchase order:

  • Automatic Expenses: Some expenses are incurred by the Co-op automatically and are not the result of a specific purchase order. Examples of this type of expense are municipal taxes, utilities (electricity, water and sewage), salaries (once a position has been approved), mortgage payments, and regular contracted maintenance (once approved and in place).                 
  • Purchase Order Expenses: In the day-to-day running of the Co-op, purchase orders are issued for items or services that have been approved during the budget process by the general membership.

Procedure: Automatic expenditures require only the approval of two signing officers on payment. Provided an expenditure will not cause total expenses to exceed the amount budgeted for that category, the following spending limits apply:

  • Petty Cash Fund of $500 shall be maintained for cash expenditures of up to $100 per item. The payer and payee on any one transaction must be different individuals.                                                                                         
  • Purchases up to $500 must be approved by the General Manager and do not require a written Purchase Order.
  • Purchases over $500 require a written Purchase Order.
  • Purchase Orders over $500, up to $3,000 must be approved by the General Manager.                                                                                                                             
  • Purchase Orders over $3,000, up to $5,000 must be approved by two signing officers and reported to the Board and the Finance Committee.
  • Purchase Orders over $5,000, up to $10,000 must be approved by the Finance Committee and the Board.
  • All Purchase Orders over $10,000 will be considered an unbudgeted expense, unless explicitly itemized in the approved operating budget.

2.2       Over-budget Expenditures

These are expenditures that exceed the amount budgeted for the budget category. Note that this applies only to general categories (e.g. - maintenance, administration), and not to subcategories (e.g. - elevator repairs, telephone) or committee budgets. Subcategories that are going over budget should be brought to the attention of the Finance Committee. For the procedures for over-budget expenditures, see below.

Committee Budgets: No committee or Co-op member can spend Co-op funds without prior approval by the Finance Committee and the Board of an annual or event budget. No committee may spend more than its allocated budget without prior Board approval.

2.3       Unbudgeted Expenses

Expenses that are not included, either explicitly or implicitly, in a budget are categorized as unbudgeted expenses. All unbudgeted expenses require a written Purchase Order. Procedure: Unbudgeted and over-budget expenses require the following approval:

  • Purchase Orders up to $750 must be approved by staff and two signing officers.
  • Purchase Orders over $750, up to $5,000 must be approved by the Board, and reported to the Finance Committee.
  • Purchase Orders over $5,000, up to $10,000 must be approved by the Finance Committee and the Board.
  • Purchase Orders over $10,000 must be approved by the Finance Committee and the Board, and approved by the General Members.

2.4       Emergency Expenses

Emergency expenses are incurred immediately because a delay will risk property damage, endanger personal safety, or cause undue hardship.

  • Expenditures require approval of the General Manager, On-Call or the President.                                                                                                     
  • Expenditures must be reported to the Treasurer, the President, the Board of Directors and the Finance committee as soon as possible.

2.5       Committee Expenses

Committees must be formally approved by the board before they may spend from any budget they have been allocated.

Committee budgets can only be spent on the category for which they were approved, e.g. honorarium, hardware, donations, transportation, etc.

Committees must approve expenditures (at the category level) from their budget; and these must be reported at the next meeting of the committee after the expenditure has taken place. Committee budgets can only be spent on refreshments when it is for a specific budgeted special event to which all co-op members are invited.

Any committee expenditure must be submitted to the office on the Committee Expenditure Form that is in use at the time of the expenditure. Itemized receipts must be included, stating the purpose of each item purchased. The form must be signed by the person seeking reimbursement and also one of, the Chair, Co-Chair or Treasurer of the committee, who is not the person being reimbursed.

Expenses will usually be paid after receipt of the Committee Expenditure Form; however committees may request an advance for a particular event or activity. In this case a completed Committee Expenditure Form and any unused funds must be returned to the office within two weeks of the event taking place, or twenty eight days from the receipt of the funds, whichever comes first.

Expenditures by a Working Group or Club must be approved in advance, by a committee with an appropriate budget, or the Board. The overall responsibility for the expenditure remains with the approver.

Article 3:        Capital Budget

The Operating Budget controls day-to-day expenditures. Expenditures that are less routine, that will occur only once or rarely in the life of the Co-op, are controlled by the Capital Budget.

The Capital Budget controls contributions to the Co-op's system of Reserve Funds, and expenditures from those funds.

The operation of the Reserves is outlined in the Reserves Policy. The only aspect of Capital Budgeting that need be outlined separately here is the system for designating expenditures. Expenditures from reserves must be given one of three designations when the budget is approved by the general members:

  • Needing GMM Approval: Expenditures that are sufficiently controversial to require individual discussion at a subsequent GMM. Also applies to large expenditures that have been discussed in principle, but where the specific details of the expenditure have not been considered by the members. Most major expenditures will receive this designation.                                         
  • Needing Board Approval: Expenditures that are sufficiently non-controversial that further GMM consideration is not required. Normally these would be expenditures that a GMM has approved in principle, where the details of implementation have been left in the Board's hands. This designation would also apply to relatively minor expenditures from reserves (under $3,000).
  • Needing Staff Approval: Any expenditure in a capital budget that has this designation will be considered to have received GMM approval when the budget is approved by the members. This designation would normally be used only for expenditures that have already been thoroughly debated and approved.

Over-budget capital expenditures require the same approval as outlined in the discussion of the operating budget. Unbudgeted capital expenditures require GMM approval.

Article 4:        Budget Revisions

During the course of the fiscal year, revisions can be made to either budget only as the result of extreme changes in circumstances. Such revisions can only be made after the Board has consulted with the Finance Committee, and must have final approval from the general membership. Approval of over-budgeted expenses, emergency expenses, or unbudgeted expenses does not constitute a budget revision.

Article 5:        Signing Officers

Cheques should normally be signed by the General Manager and the Treasurer, but may be signed by any two of the following:

  • General Manager
  • President
  • Vice-President
  • Treasurer                        
  • Corporate Secretary