DARRELL SUTTON, President State Bar of Georgia.
Programs Assessment Helps Meet Budget Challenge
Each year for nearly a decade now, the State Bar of Georgia has operated within an annual budget that left us on a trajectory to—all else unchanged— eliminate our unallocated cash within the next few years. This was by design: to subsidize license fees with this unallocated cash.
Because we are within a few years of eliminating that unallocated cash, we need to take advantage of this opportunity of time to change our course.
To make it a bit more concrete, if the Bar were to continue operating within the same annual budget with only a customary $2 license fee increase, a net loss of nearly $800,000 would be incurred during fiscal year 2020-21. This is consistent with the Bar’s budgeting over the past several fiscal years. But if we continued on this trajectory, that loss would grow to approximately $8 million by the 2024-25 Bar year, because we would eliminate our unallocated cash in the process.
To reverse this trajectory, the Bar must operate within a balanced budget beginning with the 2020-21 Bar year. There are a couple different ways we could achieve this.
The first is to make no changes to Bar programs and increase license fees by the amount necessary to balance our budget. This would require a license fee increase of $22 per member for the 2020-21 Bar year. And that amount would grow by $8 per year for at least the next five years, for a total of $54 in additional license fees per member by the 2024-25 Bar year.
This is in addition to the $30 in mandatory assessments—a $15 professionalism fee and a $15 Clients’ Security Fund assessment—each Bar member was slated to pay beginning with the 2020-21 Bar year.
The result under this scenario would have been each active Bar member receiving a license fee notice this spring requiring a total payment of $306 in license fees and assessments. Compare that to the $269 in license fees and assessments each active Bar member was asked to pay this past spring—a year-over-year difference of $37.
There are Bar members for whom that difference is not significant. There are others, however, for whom it is.
Regardless, after receiving this...