Board OKs hold-the-line budget

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first_imgBoard OKs hold-the-line budget Gary Blankenship Associate Editor The Florida Bar’s 11th straight budget without an increase in annual membership fees has been approved by the Board of Governors, but only after a warning it might be time to consider when the next fee raise could be needed. The board approved the budget at its April 7 meeting in Tampa, with only a couple of minor changes. The complete budget is presented to members in this News, beginning on page 6. Incoming Budget Committee Chair Jesse Diner said the budget has a projected deficit of $1.36 million, but that is based on conservative projections. Even if the deficit is approximately that amount, the Bar will end the 2000-01 fiscal year with a operating fund balance of $10 million, he said. “In recent years the Bar has run a deficit that has been offset by investment returns and other programs that didn’t spend the budgeted money,” Diner told the board. “At some time, I believe the Board of Governors is going to have to deal with a fee increase. It has been 11 years.” During that time, annual fees have remained the same: $190 for active members and $140 for inactive members. The Budget Committee met in February at the Bar headquarters in Tallahassee, he said, and members went over every line in the budget. Diner added, “These are our members’ dollars, and we try to spend them as carefully as possible.” One last minute change was an extra $30,000 from initial budget figures for Florida Lawyers Assistance, Inc. “They tried to hold the line on their budget, but an additional $30,000 needs to be spent to allow them to function this year,” Diner said. “FLA, Inc., is one of the best programs of the Bar. It rescues many lawyers from substance abuse and other problems.” The board also voted to appropriate $50,000 for evaluating the impact of the Bar’s campaign, begun last fall, to improve the image of the profession. Communications Committee Chair Alan Bookman requested that change. He noted that $50,000 had been budgeted in the 1999-2000 budget but wasn’t going to be spent, so the board approved using that money in its voter education campaign on merit selection and retention. (See story elsewhere in this News.) Bookman said the money needed to be earmarked in the new budget to ensure the evaluation of the television and radio ads that have been running around the state. The board approved that change. The 2000-01 fiscal plan projects the Bar will begin the year with a fund balance of $11.4 million and have total revenues of $25.1 million. Of those revenues, about $13 million will come from members’ annual fees. That compares with projected revenues of $25.9 million for the 1999-2000 budget year, with member fees making up $12.6 million of that. Expenses for the new budget are projected at $26.5 million, compared to $27.5 million for the 1999-2000 budget. The biggest expense continues to be the regulation of the practice of law, which includes the Bar’s Lawyer Regulation, Ethics, Lawyer Advertising, Membership Records and Center for Professionalism activities. Those are budgeted at $10.7 million, compared to $10 million for 1999-2000. The Unlicensed Practice of Law Department is budgeted for $1.2 million for 2000-01, about $50,000 more than the previous year. The board will consider comments on the budget from Bar members at its June 2 meeting, and will then forward the final budget to the Supreme Court for review. The new budget year begins July 1. Board OKs hold-the-line budget April 30, 2000 Regular Newslast_img

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