Alfred S. Martin
The principle business of the Society's last Board of Directors' meeting was the financial affairs of the Society. The meeting was held in Tacoma during the afternoon of Sunday. October 6, and was preceded by a rather lengthy meeting of the Budget and Finance Committee and the Long Range Planning Committee the same morning.
It had been apparent for some time that the Society could not long continue to operate on a financially sound basis and provide our excellent Quarterly and other services to the Society within the framework of the current dues structure. A short time after the annual meeting in May, I sent a letter out to all chapter presidents, elected directors and officers requesting through them a reflection of the membership's thinking on the pressing financial problems that were going to develop within the next financial year of the Society. As a result of this letter and responses, three alternate lines of approach were most frequently suggested. These were as follows:
- Raise the dues to $12.00 annually and retain the current 70/30 split between the chapters and the national organization as currently mandated by the Society's by-laws.
- Raise the dues to a lesser amount and change the by-laws to provide for an 80/20 split.
- Set the national dues at a figure approximating $9.00 and allow each chapter to charge what it wished to provide for the financial well-being of the individual chapter.
As a result of this, another letter was forwarded, again to all chapter presidents, officers and elected directors asking for their reaction to these alternatives. There were a total of 38 responses to this request. Unfortunately, they contained no clear mandate to any of these alternatives but almost universally acknowledged that there was some need for a change in the dues structure of the American Rhododendron Society to allow continued operations at a high level of efficiency with maximum service to individual members. All of this correspondence was forwarded to Curt Huey, chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee. The Committee met during the morning of October 6 as indicated and had a full discussion on all of the alternatives. The committee's decision was to recommend to the Board of Directors that the dues be raised to $12.00 effective with the calendar year of 1975. The dues would be apportioned between the Society and the chapters as provided for in the current by-laws. A major factor in arriving at this decision was the fact that most of the alternatives would require a change in the Society's by-laws. Such a change would have postponed any positive action for a period of at least a year while the cumbersome task of amending the by-laws was consummated.
The other alternatives were certainly not without merit but it was felt in the long run that they might tend to create a wedge between the chapters and the Society in direct contradiction to our primary goal of improving relationships in this area.
A quorum of the Board was present for the afternoon meeting and after a great deal of discussion and debate, the recommendation of the committee that dues be increased to $12.00 effective with the calendar year 1975 was accepted by a vote of 15 to 2. There was no question but that the decision was made with a great deal of reluctance but with the knowledge that the rapidly rising costs of almost every facet of operation made the change an economic necessity.
Some items were considered at the Board meeting that did not actually appear on the committee report. Most of these centered around the free services that the Society has received over the past two years which might not be available in the future. Principally on a line item basis, these concerned themselves with officers' traveling expenses, secretarial work, postage, telephone expenses, and other similar items. It might not be possible to continue to effectively provide these services without cost in the immediate future. Other such necessary or highly desirable projects such as the Research 100 study and the consummation of the final tax ruling by the I. R. S. were also performed at no cost to the Society.
The Editor has done a superior job in holding the cost down on the bulletin and made many changes which have enabled costs to remain somewhat stable for publication. There can be no question but that increased costs will be necessary when the present supply of paper and other allied items are exhausted and must be purchased on the open market. Increased printing and mailing costs are practically a certainty as are almost all incidental costs connected with running the Society. It was also agreed that effective with the calendar year 1976, dues notices would be sent out in September with a January 1 deadline for payment.
The Committee felt and the Board agreed that if the increase in dues was coupled with a determination to increase the membership of the Society and continue to improve its services to its members. the A.R.S. would be on a sound financial footing for some years. All of us would like to continue to improve such services as the Bulletin. slide and tape programs, plant registration, new books, free publications and viable research projects. Hopefully, by the time that you receive this, you will also receive a new membership list. It was originally felt that the list would have to be sold but we are now able to provide it to you free of charge. Undoubtedly, the value of this publication varies with individual members. The officers and Board feel it is an important function of the Society to provide this list to all members on a periodic basis.
With immediate financial questions behind us, I hope that my next discussion with you may center around some of the immediate and long-range specific goals and desirable objectives of the Society.
As usual, I welcome any comments from you. I have enjoyed the opportunity in the past months of being able to comment directly to individual members who have taken valuable time in making their views known.