BY BRYN A. PETERSON
First and foremost, I would like to publicly recognize WSBA Advancement Department Director Kevin Plachy for serving as the interim Executive Leadership Team liaison to the Budget and Audit Committee for most of this fiscal year. Director Plachy not only kept the WSBA’s fiscal ship afloat, but he has helped us make the ship more seaworthy. He has been a pleasure to work with and made my job easier. I would also be remiss if I did not thank former Budget and Finance Manager Liz Wick and Interim Director of Finance Maggie Yu for all the great work they did to support Director Plachy and the Budget and Audit Committee. It is also important to mention that the WSBA just hired a new director of finance, Tiffany Lynch, and we are very excited to have her join the WSBA—again! Lynch is a licensed Certified Public Accountant and previously worked for the WSBA as controller and associate director of finance. Before returning to the WSBA, Lynch served in an executive leadership role at a nonprofit as chief finance and operations officer, overseeing finance, human resources, information technology, and facilities.
As we come to the end of FY 2022 it is important to look back at the challenges and accomplishments over the course of the fiscal year. Over this last year we held our first ever full-day Budget and Audit Committee retreat to ensure that everyone on the Budget and Audit Committee understood the basics of WSBA finances and budgeting. In addition, a fiscal policy subcommittee recommended substantial revisions to the WSBA Fiscal Policies; these recommended revisions have been forwarded to the WSBA Board of Governors for its review and approval. The investment subcommittee has made progress to determine ways to invest WSBA reserve funds in a safe and prudent manner, while also earning a reasonable return. We continue to try to sublease some of the WSBA’s downtown office space, but the supply and demand make this a challenging endeavor. If you know anyone who would like office space in downtown Seattle, please tell us!
One of the things that I have been most proud of this last year is that members of the Budget and Audit Committee have done an excellent job of expressing their views and opinions in a respectful manner. I have encouraged diverse and differing opinions, while asking that we disagree with each other in a respectful manner. This is in line with the Budget and Audit Committee’s motto of “Do good and have fun.” All the Budget and Audit Committee members have contributed something of significance to the betterment of the whole and I would like to thank them for their hard work over this last year: Governor Francis Adewale, President-Elect Dan Clark, Governor Matthew Dresden, Governor Carla Higginson, Governor Alec Stephens, Governor Brett Purtzer, and Governor Tom McBride.
Through June 2021 (the latest final financial figures available at the time of this column’s publication), the WSBA is operating favorable to budget. In the original FY 22 budget we anticipated an approximate $89,000 loss to the general fund, which would have come out of the reserves. The latest forecast indicates that the WSBA should end FY 22 in September with a net gain of approximately $400,000. If so, the WSBA will start the new fiscal year with an estimated $7.4 million in total reserves, which includes $1.05 million in our facilities reserve fund, and $1.5 million in a restricted operating reserve fund. Overall, we have performed better than projected this fiscal year, because of increased revenues and cost savings from remote meetings and events, which have continued under COVID-19 restrictions.
The Budget and Audit Committee is in the process of reviewing the FY 23 budget. The committee had two meetings in July, and the FY 23 budget was also submitted to the WSBA Board of Governors for its review and comment at the July Board of Governors meeting. The Board of Governors gave the Budget and Audit Committee several comments and recommendations which the committee is taking into account. The Budget and Audit Committee will have another meeting in August where we will continue to work with WSBA staff to finalize the FY 23 budget and send it to the Board of Governors for its final review and approval.
Another piece of good news is that license fees for all license types will not increase for the 2023 license year. Additionally, the Budget and Audit Committee recommended that license fees for WSBA members remain the same for the 2024 licensing year and that we lower the Client Protection Fund’s fees by $5 for the 2024 license year. The recommendation for 2024 license fees still must be reviewed and approved by the Board of Governors and the Washington Supreme Court. If this recommendation is approved, the net result will be that WSBA members will pay $5 less in the 2024 license year. As an attorney who pays for my own WSBA license fee every year, this makes me happy and hopefully it makes some of you happy as well.
This is my last Treasurer’s Report, as I pass the torch to newly elected Treasurer Francis Adewale (District 5 governor). I have no doubt that Treasurer Adewale will do a great job in this role.
If you would like more information about the meeting times and materials for the WSBA Budget and Audit Committee, please go to our website at: www.wsba.org/connect-serve/committees-boards-other-groups/budget-audit.
In addition, you can find our annual report and the monthly financial information for the WSBA at: www.wsba.org/connect-serve/committees-boards-other-groups/budget-audit.