Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fort Worth PRSA Dues Increase Vote Revisited

From the Chapter President, Andra Bennett, APR

Several weeks ago, I e-mailed chapter members and posted a blog item informing you of the Board’s proposal to increase our chapter dues from $45 to $55 annually.

As I outlined in the previous post, our dues have not been increased since the mid-1990s, yet our chapter has grown and with that growth comes increased activities, obligations and associated expenses.

We knew our bylaws called for a vote by the membership at the annual meeting to be able to increase dues for the next fiscal year. However, after looking at the language a little closer, and consulting with a National PRSA, it appears that our bylaws mandate a majority vote of the entire membership, not just those who are present at the annual meeting.

Article IV, Section 1 states: “The amount of Chapter dues for the next fiscal year shall be fixed every year by the Board of Directors. If increased, the increase will be approved at the annual meeting by a majority vote of the Chapter membership.”

In the absence of any other language, such as “a majority of members present and voting,” (which we do have for officer elections), a majority vote means a simple majority, which is 50 percent plus one.

As of Oct. 14, this chapter has 157 members, which means that 79 members would need to be present at our annual meeting luncheon to have a quorum – also defined in the bylaws as a “majority of the membership” – to even take a vote on this issue.

Knowing that we rarely have that many members at a luncheon, and not having time to conduct the vote using proxies, the Board withdrew the proposal for a dues increase at its October board meeting.

However, this issue will likely come back. Our chapter’s budget is around $30,000 annually, and the cost to operate – including luncheons, committees, SIG programs, scholarships, bank and credit card charges, web hosting, tax preparation and filing, etc. – is about $190 per member annually.

We do have a few other revenue streams, but our dues are not keeping up with the cost of doing business. If we want to continue having a vibrant chapter that delivers quality programs in a professional setting, uses up-to-date technology, and encourages professional development of our members and our college students, we will need to revisit that .83 cents per month increase in the next year or two.

Wouldn’t you like to see the GFW Chapter hit the 200-member mark in 2010? Thank you for being a part of it.

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