By Walter Okitsu, Western District Vice President
The Western District leadership met on July 10, 2011, at the Anchorage Hilton for the Annual Board Meeting. More than 30 people attended the Board meeting, including committee chairs, chapter and section officers, candidates, and student officers. This meeting focused on how the District would weather through tough economic times.
President Edgar Perez opened the meeting by asking the committee chairs to each read a paragraph from the Western District Strategic Plan. Over the past year, he had issued presidential proclamations to Constantinos Papacostas of Hawaii Section, Bill Coleman of New Mexico Section, Melissa Rosas of Colorado-Wyoming Section, Bob Johnson of San Diego Section, and Pierre Jomini of Intermountain Section.
Vice-President Alyssa Reynolds reported on the WesternITE Committee’s plans on raising advertising revenue, which has dropped in recent years. They had set the front page website ad price of $300 for 90-day placement. She had revised the leadership organization chart, greatly simplifying the layout.
Secretary-Treasurer Walter Okitsu forecasted the District financial reserves as possibly being drained within two years, due to sharp revenue drops in membership dues and advertising, unless budget deficits were reduced and eventually eliminated. He recommended a combination of dues increases and expenditure cuts. Any dues increase in
excess of 10 percent per year would require a vote of the membership. He suggested an increase of dues, currently at $22 per year, to $40. For comparison, the Texas District’s dues are $50. He presented a draft budget with broad cuts in expenditures for Board review.
Monica Suter, who served as Past President for the first half of 2011, announced that Patti Boekamp and Wes Pringle would join the Advisory Committee when the terms expire for Rich Romer and Rory Grindley at the end of this meeting. Bob Crommelin was added earlier at the Mid-Year meeting. The Advisory Committee had been asked to consider a means to reduce the workload on the District Secretary-Treasurer. The Committee strongly recommended against splitting the office into two positions, and suggested consideration of delegating some treasurer duties to the District Administrator. Using a bookkeeping service could cost as much as $1,000 per month. A survey of other professional societies of similar size found that none use outside bookkeeping services.
International Director Ken Ackeret recommended a District election rule change to have petitioning candidates show the names of nominated candidates on the petition. The Board approved the rule change. He also recommended that, as he had done this past year, future Senior Directors review the travel reimbursement requests of officers.
International President Robert Wunderlich described the Institute’s Strategic Plan that emphasized road facilities first and leadership training next. International Vice President Rock Miller informed the District Board that he is available to help deal with the 2014 joint Western-Midwestern Annual Meeting in Rapid City. ITE Executive Director Tom Brahms announced changes for International Annual Meetings such as posting papers in advance, shifting Annual Meeting dates into the weekend, and making documents available on tablet computers.
In her District Administrator’s report, Jenny Grote announced she could make Certificates of Achievement for student groups and/or their professors. The mileage rate for Board and committee chair travel was revised to 55.5¢ per mile. The Board passed a motion accepting the bylaws and charter for the University of Southern California student chapter. Draft bylaws were also presented for the University of Colorado, Denver. Their Charter was approved at the Mid-Year Board meeting in February.
WesternITE Managing Director Zaki Mustafa described the measures taken in response to reduced advertising income, such as sending printed issues only twice a year. Advertising Manager Ahmed Aburahmah reported revenues of $7,000 this year.
Website Manager Nathan Mustafa exhibited the new District website format, using a magazine format to replace the previous blog format that could not show certain displays. Committee chairs and Local Arrangements Committees would be able to create sub pages. Some ideas that he might implement soon include displaying ads from non-industry firms like Toyota, posting annual meeting compendia on-line, and displaying recorded presentations of winning papers.
Technical Committee Chair Karen Aspelin announced that four Data Collection project reports have been submitted. Patty Camacho de Cano, the Career Guidance Committee Chair, described awards and mentoring activities of the past year. Janna McKhann, the vendor Committee Chair, reported coordination with IMSA has improved to get better vendor sponsorship.
Student Endowment Chair Cathy Leong announced a $5,000 donation was received from the Washington Section. The Endowment Fund is now invested at a 70:30 split between fixed income and securities, respectively. The Board considered but took no action to adjust that ratio. A student raffle would occur at the Anchorage Get Acquainted event, requiring a state gaming permit.
Future Annual Meetings
The District Board selected the San Diego Section as the host for the Annual Meeting in 2017. Although originally considered for 2016, the Board felt that having a meeting in San Diego the same year as the International Meeting in Anaheim would hurt attendance at both meetings. Invitations will be sought from sections outside of California to host the 2016 Western District Annual Meeting.
Tom Mericle of the Central Coast Section provided an update on the Santa Barbara Annual Meeting, to be held June 24 to 27, 2012 at the Fess Parker Doubletree Resort. He anticipates a good turnout from vendors, filling out all available booths.
Kim Carroll and Andrew Smigielski, co-chairs for the 2013 Annual Meeting in Phoenix, outlined their activities to date. That meeting will be held at the Arizona Biltmore Resort from July 14 to 17, 2013.
Western District will hold a joint 2014 Annual Meeting with the Midwestern District June 28 to July 2 in Rapid City, South Dakota. President Edgar Perez appointed Randy McCourt to be the Local Arrangements Committee General Chair.
The Cal State Long Beach student chapter, who defeated three other schools in the Southern California Section traffic bowl competition, arrived in Anchorage to discover all nine slots for the Annual Meeting’s Traffic Bowl were filled. Patti Camacho worked with the Anchorage LAC to set up another round to allow for three more teams.
The Board amended the Secretary-Treasurer’s draft budget for Fiscal Year 2011-2012. For the next year, the Board authorized a 10 percent increase in dues for all categories. Eliminated budget items included cash prizes for professional Traffic Bowl winners, a scholarship award, student books for new chapters, and travel reimbursements for Council Chairs. Cash awards were not included in the budget for next year for section membership increases, section activities, the WesternITE Editorial Award, Annual Meeting Best Papers, and travel for the student chapter traffic bowl winners to the International competition. Expenses and stipends were reduced for the WesternITE Managing Editor, Advertising Coordinator, and Web Manager, Only two printed issues of WesternITE would be mailed out. Endowment fund financial expenses, which had been subsidized by the District, would be paid for by the Fund itself, and the Fund would also pay for Student Chapter reports and the Student Data Collection Program.
This budget, to be presented to the general membership at the subsequent Annual Business Meeting, would still result in a $17 thousand deficit. The Board therefore moved to hold a special vote of the membership under an expedited process to increase the authorization of dues under certain categories to a maximum of $40 per year.
Annual Business Meeting Highlights
At the Annual Business Meeting on Tuesday, July 12 President Edgar Perez led a moment of silence for District members who passed away since the last Business Meeting, including Robert Bernstein, Thomas Ferrara, John Komaru, Paul Steiner, and John Taylor. His State of the District report showed membership in the District’s 16 sections totaled 4,696, a 6 percent decrease. He presented the steps to improve the District according to its Strategic Plan.
International President Robert Wunderlich provided an update on ITE’s activities. During his presentation, he obtained a pledge from the audience to stop using mobile phones while driving.
Secretary-Treasurer Walter Okitsu showed that while total District financial assets appeared healthy at over $300,000 for the past 4 years, accounts not tied to the Endowment Fund have shrunk rapidly because of loss of membership, reduction in WesternITE ad revenue, operating subsidies to the Endowment Fund, and Annual Meeting registration discounts to students. To avoid depleting cash reserves, he presented a plan to reduce expenditures by 25 percent, increase dues by 10 percent, and have the Endowment Fund, presently at $280,000, begin to pay for Student Initiatives immediately instead of waiting for the balance to reach $500,000. Even with these measures, he projected a $17 thousand deficit for the coming year. To avoid depleting the District’s financial reserves the Board will pursue a future special vote of the membership to increase dues to $40 The budget was approved by voice vote of the members.
President Perez announced that the San Diego Section would host the 2017 District Annual Meeting. Because the 2016 International meeting would be held in Anaheim, he invited sections outside of California to submit for the 2016 District Meeting. He announced he was leaving the District, having been transferred by his employer to Qatar. He accepted the tellers committee report and announced the newly-elected 2011-2012 District officers:
President Alyssa Reynolds
Vice President Walter Okitsu
Secretary-Treasurer Karen Aspelin
International Director Monica Suter (3-year term begins January 2012)
The meeting was adjourned until the 2012 Annual Meeting in Santa Barbara.