BY BRYN A. PETERSON
March marked the middle of the WSBA’s fiscal year (October through September), and our budget narrative, I surmise, mirrors many of our own personal challenges in adapting to our new normal and our hope that we will return to our old normal. The WSBA has gone from being a workplace where almost all staff worked at the office to an organization in which most staff work from their homes. Now we venture into what the new reality will be for the WSBA.
The WSBA is in the process of completing its annual reforecast process, which is what we do mid-fiscal year to compare the budgeted revenues and expenditures in each cost center with actual revenues and expenditures. The reforecast process also considers unanticipated revenues and expenditures that could not have been predicted or foreseen at the time the 2022 budget was put into place. Once these changes in revenues and expenditures have been properly identified, we then adjust the projections for the remainder of the 2022 fiscal year. The Budget and Audit Committee reviewed the reforecast figures and submitted them to the WSBA Board of Governors for their review and approval. We do not expect the reforecast to require any significant changes from the original budget.
As of January 2022, the WSBA’s General Fund shows a positive variance from budgeted net revenue of about $1,038,805 for the 2022 fiscal year. This positive variance to budget is due in part to COVID-19-related changes and the fact that the WSBA fiscal-year cycle is always revenue-heavy in the first half (licensing season) and expense-heavy in the second half (when many service contracts and expenses come due). It should also be noted that due to the pandemic, the Washington Supreme Court deferred the reporting of MCLE credits for last year’s reporting group. Because of this, two groups of attorneys were required to report and be in compliance with their MCLE requirements as of Dec. 31, 2021. Due to a higher-than-anticipated demand for CLE products associated with the double reporting group, the WSBA CLE fund is also operating at a positive variance from budget. The CLE revenue for fiscal year 2022 was budgeted at $1,904,985, and we are approximately $300,000 ahead of our expected revenue at mid-fiscal year and we expect to maintain the positive variance for CLE revenue through the end of this fiscal year.
I am happy to report that we are making great progress on our three main projects (the “three streams”) for this year. As to the first stream, WSBA Governor Francis Adewale, Advancement Department Director Kevin Plachy, and Finance Manager Liz Wick have made great strides on a project to review and redline all of the fiscal policies for the WSBA. Once this team has finished with their revisions, they will present the redlined fiscal policies to the Budget and Audit Committee for review and feedback. As to the second stream, Director Plachy and WSBA Governors Brett Purtzer, Matthew Dresden, and Dan Clark have been working with the WSBA financial advisors to invest WSBA members’ money in a way that increases our return, but does so in a safe manner. Significant progress has been made on this second stream, but more work needs to be done to ensure that the Budget and Audit Committee is given the right options to consider regarding this important matter. Given the limited ability to increase revenue for the WSBA, this investment stream provides us the best opportunity to increase revenue to the benefit of the WSBA and its members. The third stream involves Governor Alec Stephens, Finance Manager Wick, and Accounting Manager Maggie Yu, who will explore ways we can improve the WSBA budget process to make it more efficient. This work is ongoing, and I am happy to report that they have made real progress and I expect the end result of this stream will be a better and more efficient WSBA budget process.
The Budget and Audit Committee motto for this year is “do good and have fun.” I have also instituted “fines and penalties” for those who do not call everyone by their first names—the goal being to make our meetings more informal. While I encourage diverse opinions, it is also very important to me that we are all respectful and civil to each other during these exciting meetings. The Budget and Audit Committee meetings are open to all WSBA members, and you can find the information on the meeting dates, times, and zoom link at www.wsba.org/Legal-Community/Committees-Boards-and-Other-Groups/budget-audit. Some members may find these meetings exciting, while others may find them to be a quick and efficient aid to sleep. Whichever group you find yourself in, you are always welcome to attend!
It has been and continues to be a pleasure to be your treasurer for this fiscal year. Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns regarding the WSBA budget.