Once again, I have to bring you news concerning the budget. Spring always seems to be budget season at the New Hampshire Bar Association.
Previously, I told you that the Board of Governors had a day-long meeting with the Finance Committee to discuss the budget and review the programs, the resources and the activities of the Bar Association.
The Finance Committee had reviewed the current budget to create the budget for 2008-2009. The Bar Association, as you know, has maintained a fiscally responsible Association and Budget in accordance with the directives of the Board of Governors.
This year, the association did not create any new programs. In fact, the Association reduced or eliminated certain programs, such as the live competition part of the mock trial program, in order to maintain a balanced budget and avoid a deficit.
It has come to the point, however, that the Association must make some decisions about the budget going forward.
Currently, if nothing changes, no additional programs are started, and no additional resources are available, the Association will have a deficit of $102,457.00. Usually, there are reserves we can tap into to eliminate the deficit. The reserve however, is not sufficient to cover the deficit this year.
At this point, decisions have to be made to eliminate programs or eliminate people. It is impossible to "nip and tuck" without significant program changes. The Finance Committee recommendations have been to reduce publications, use the internet more for publications, and reduce funding for LRE.
There is no ability to further eliminate programs or services without seriously impacting the Associationís benefit to the members and the public.
The Finance Committee has proposed an additional dues increase of $25.00 this year (beyond the scheduled $5 increase-year 3 of a 5 year plan established at the time the Bar Center moved). This will generate enough funds to cover the budget deficit and keep the Association fiscally responsible.
Dues increase is never a popular discussion; however previously, I informed you that the New Hampshire Bar Association has dues beneath the national average for state unified bar dues. This would put our highest category of Association dues at $300.00 per year. I want to remind members that while about one-half of the mandatory fees to practice law are Association dues (annual registration, professionalism and member and public service), other mandatory fees are set by the Court for the professionís regulation: $195 for Professional Conduct, $35 for Public Protection, and $10 for Minimum CLE administration.
A minimal additional dues increase of $25.00 would maintain the current programs, services and activities of the Association. There are no new programs or activities planned for the coming year. The Board will be taking up the issue of a dues increase at its monthly meeting in May. In my effort to communicate with you, the members on current issues, I have written this article to ask for input and response from the membership.
In my effort to communicate with you, the members, on current issues, I have written this article to ask for input and response from the membership. As always I value your input. The members are the sustaining force of the Bar and I feel it is my role as President to ensure that your concerns are voiced on issues concerning your membership.