RoFIntUG not in a financial crisis
New board member calls it ‘manufactured’
By Greg Massé
Post Independent Staff
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Roaring Fork Internet Users Group board member Gary Robertson says the organization’s financial crisis was manufactured.
But former RoFIntUG board member Joe O’Donnell, who was one of the board members who warned RoFIntUG members in March of a coming financial crisis, still insists that if RoFIntUG kept going the way it was, the organization would have been bankrupt in less than a year.
Robertson, one of nine new board members elected earlier this month, said he feels the warnings from O’Donnell and other board members were exaggerated.
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“The financials are fine. There never was a financial crisis,” Robertson said. “It’s all projected. When they yelled that RoFIntUG is going down, that caused a lot of people to leave – they created a crisis. In my mind, the crisis was pretty much manufactured.”
The board also has decided to keep the monthly service fee at $18 – at least for now – and they ruled that any talk of changing the Internet service provider from a nonprofit organization to a private company has ceased.
“We don’t have a choice about staying a nonprofit,” he said.
Robertson says the board is hoping a combination of several factors will help get RoFIntUg rolling once again:
• A new board consisting of nine members was recently elected. Robertson said the new board members are very active.
• Two highly-paid employees recently left RoFIntUG – former executive director Kim Walton and former senior systems analyst Chad LaFrenz – saving the organization about $100,000 a year in salaries.
• The staff of RoFIntUG is looking into how they can make its Web home page more exciting and dynamic.
• Many of the service contracts are up for renewal in the coming months and the new board members, along with RoFIntUG’s staff are looking to save money on the services, then pass those savings onto its members in the form of lower dial-up access prices.
• The board and staff are looking at expanding the ISP’s high-speed Internet choices.
O’Donnell and other former RoFIntUG Board members say RoFIntUG steadily had been losing its members to cheaper dial-up Internet service providers and high-speed Internet providers such as Qwest and Comcast, which provides cable broadband Internet access
“They’re in trouble because they’re a dial-up based organization,” O’Donnell said. “If the new board can bring in high-speed Internet, they might be able to save it.”
While some experts agree with O’Donnell that the future of dial-up Internet access is gloomy, others say it will stay popular with many people until broadband prices fall to the level of dial-up service.
According to a study by Stamford, Conn.-based research firm Gartner, dial-up Internet access has its pros.
One reason for its longevity is that dial-up access is the most available and affordable option out there, according to the study.
Another reason is that casual users of the Internet – those who use it only for e-mail or for short periods – don’t need the extra speed broadband provides.
The study also states that because a dial-up connection to the Internet is not always connected, users don’t need to invest in firewall software to protect their computer from hackers or viruses.
Robertson said another way the new board will boost RoFIntUG’s membership is to increase its marketing efforts. He said board member Mark Walker proposed the organization set a goal of doubling its membership in the next year.
“There’s over $100,000 in our bank, so it’s not like RoFIntUG is going to go away,” Robertson said.
O’Donnell said the new board has its work cut out for them.
“I wish them all the luck in the world,” he said.
Contact Greg Massé: 945-8515, ext. 511
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