AVMA raises dues as membership numbers climb

Incremental increases to generate $4 million in three years

January 25, 2011 (published)
By Jennifer Fiala

General membership dues for the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) will reach $330 by 2015, adding more than $4 million to the bottom line of a group with an annual budget in the $30-million range.

The decision to raise dues from $300 a year came from the AVMA House of Delegates earlier this month, when the policy-making body met in Chicago for its annual meeting. The determination followed an announcement that AVMA membership numbers now exceed 81,500.

Membership dues traditionally provide more than 60 percent of the AVMA's annual budget, which is set at $29.5-million for 2011, with a projected $1.5 million in excess income over expenses. In a speech before delegates, Treasurer Dr. Bret Marsh announced that despite the rising cost of dues, "membership renewals have been received at a record pace." He later added that "the AVMA will continue to be the envy of the professional association world," referring to the association's fiscal health and the fact that more than 80 percent of all U.S. veterinarians are members.

The dues hike will come incrementally, with a $10 increase to total $310 in 2013, $320 in 2014 and, finally, $330 in 2015. General AVMA members currently pay $300 in dues — the result of the House's decision last year to impose a $50 increase in 2011. Prior to that, AVMA members had been paying $250 annually since 2004.

Rather than impose such large, sporadic increases in the future, the House voted to raise dues a little at a time. In 2015, the House will revisit whether to continue that method of dues assessment, which is loosely tied to the Consumer Price Index.

In his report to the House of Delegates, Marsh touched on how the nation's economic downturn impacted the AVMA, recounting a last-minute move by Executive Board members in 2009 to slash the 2010 budget, which resulted in an unforeseen surplus of more than $1 million. He pinned the windfall on significant reductions in expenditures, the success of the 2010 AVMA convention in Atlanta and nearly 15 percent in returns on the association's investment portfolio.

"Fiscal-year 2010 clearly illustrated the determination and resolve of the AVMA to do right by their members and persevere through the most challenging economic period experienced in decades," Marsh stated.

Budget projections for 2011 show revenues of $30.5 million and expenditures of $29.5 million. The AVMA keeps roughly a year's worth of operating expenses in reserves.

Culminating a six-year term, Marsh plans to issue his final report as AVMA treasurer during the House of Delegates meeting in July in St. Louis. The AVMA Executive Board has selected Dr. Barbara Schmidt, of Union, Ky., to replace him.

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