The State Bar’s Board of Governors opted Wednesday to delay a dues increase vote another year as they approved a 2013 budget that relies on reserve money instead of additional member contributions to close a budget gap.
The approved budget will take about $150,000 out of the bar’s reserves, executive committee member Margaret Wrenn Hickey said Wednesday, $50,000 of which is from Access to Justice program reserves and the rest from the Dues Stabilization Reserve.
Reserve money was needed, board member Nate Cade said, to make up for the bar’s decreased returns on investments and the ongoing effects of several years without a dues increase.
The last time the bar raised dues was in 2005, from $210 to $224.
“A dues increase would have built the reserves so we could hopefully go another (several) years without an increase,” said Cade, who has been on the BOG for three years and will conclude his term this year. “By failing to do anything on an increase today the board has kicked the can down the road another year.”
There was some support at Wednesday’s BOG meeting in the Wisconsin Dells for the potential of a dues increase in the 2014 budget, Cade said, but the board ultimately decided to have incoming members take a look at the issue this fall when new terms start. Cade said he supported a dues increase.
Hickey in April pitched a $35 dues increase to take effect July 1, 2013 — the start of the 2014 fiscal year. The increase would have required use of more than $99,000 in reserve money to help balance the 2013 budget, which then included a potential $286,206 deficit.
But at its May 18 meeting, according to Wednesday’s agenda, the bar’s Executive Committee voted to recommend the budget to the board for approval without a dues increase proposal for fiscal year 2014.
The bar’s new president, Kevin Klein, could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday. He was sworn in Wednesday and his term is set to begin July 1.