Dear Fellow Members:
You recently read an article in OLLI E-News about the Board’s proposed 2007 budget review meeting held on Thursday, December 7th that nine of your fellow members attended. We were pleased with their participation and interested in their comments with regard to the dues increase. That meeting’s highlights, provided by the secretary, will detail what occurred at that meeting in this week’s E-News.
Board members will act on the proposed budget this Friday at their regular December meeting at 10 am. You are, as always, welcome to attend.
The dues increase obviously will interest all of you. As a dues-financed institute, almost all of the costs of operating OLLI, from staff salaries and program costs, to maintenance, catalogs and mailing, are underwritten by revenue derived from your dues. In addition, we are obligated to look to our future, including the potential move to another location and its related costs, as well as to any emergency situation that could arise. We have an untouchable $50,000 rainy day fund set up for that which may increase in future years. Our Friends of OLLI fund is set aside for GMU scholarships and capital projects such as new comfortable chairs for our classrooms.
The treasurer points out that we are in good financial shape, with undesignated cash and the rainy day fund totaling $120,000. Available to us also is $50,000 that the Osher Foundation separated out for us from the million dollar endowment that we can access on a loan basis at 4% to be repaid by 2014. The interest on the full million endowment will pay off $12,000 in 2007, $26,000 in 2008 and the full interest of $40,000 in 2009.
The overall budget for 2007 is estimated at $345,000. Divided by 725 members, this amounts to $476 per member. However, because of all monies expected to be available in 2007, the finance committee recommends dues at $320 to begin with spring renewals. They note, however, that an additional increase will occur in 2008. Members are reminded that scholarships are available and can be applied for in the office. All such requests will be kept completely confidential.
Challenging the finance committee’s recommendation that future increases be taken in steps, several members voiced strong feelings that the board should “bite the bullet” and increase dues in 2007 to a greater level and “get it over with.” Further, some did not like the concept of “borrowing” against our own Osher money, with payback once the full interest comes into play in 2009; the alternative to that would mean drawing down on a projected reserve of $70,000. Regardless of which alternative is used, the $50,000 rainy day fund/safety cushion remains intact.
One board member has indicated he will offer an amendment to the finance committee’s resolution on the budget to include a larger dues increase.
Members, as always, may join us as we deliberate this all-important subject.
President, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at George Mason University