BY FRANCIS A. ADEWALE
The audit is done and dusted and now comes the budget retreat.
Spring is in the air. The fields are fecund with growth. The grass is getting green again and your Budget and Audit team at the Washington State Bar Association is headed full steam toward spring, with plenty of tasks, accomplishments, and projects on the horizon! Here are a few items of note:
The audit is complete; no adjustments were needed, nor were there any significant recommendations. We got a clean bill of health, finance-wise, and we received an unmodified opinion, which the WSBA has been able to achieve for many years. The final report will be provided to the Board of Governors at its March meeting (see public materials online).
At the time of filing this report, we are in the middle of preparation for the fiscal year (FY) 2024 budget retreat, which is scheduled for March 3, from 2-6 p.m. (I provided the readers with the link for the retreat in my last column. By the time you read this article, the retreat will have concluded.) The primary objective of the budget retreat is to obtain guidance from the Board in key areas to build the FY 24 budget and plan for future organizational needs. The retreat is also born out of feedback from governors (past and present) who have wanted to improve our budget process; we are working to be responsive to this and have made it a priority of the Budget and Audit Committee. I would like to express my deep gratitude to President Daniel D. Clark, Governor Brent Williams-Ruth, Governor Alec Stephens, and Immediate-Past Treasurer Bryn Peterson in particular for their thoughts and suggestions. The retreat will focus on the allocation of WSBA reserves to existing and newly established funds (License Fee Stability Fund and Special Projects/Innovation Fund), the Board’s philosophy on use of reserves to support operations in FY 24 and beyond, and the impact of future license fees on reserves. Guidance in these areas will help us develop a budget that is aligned with the Board’s vision, goals, and priorities.
The Board has set the following goals for the remainder of FY 23: (1) increase member engagement in the WSBA’s volunteer community, (2) establish a process for WSBA program review, (3) support rural practice, (4) develop a strategic plan for the future of WSBA space, and (5) increase the WSBA’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. These goals will guide the Board’s discussions and be considerations as the Board prepares to set goals and develop a budget for FY 24.
Members interested in the historical foundations of any assumptions we make on budget proposals can check out historical budgets and financial reports on our website, https://wsba.org/Legal-Community/Committees-Boards-and-Other-Groups/budget-audit. It is important to bear in mind that the Board will be setting the 2025 license fees this year. We encourage members to connect with their district governors to provide their thoughts.
Other future meetings related to the FY 24 budget are outlined below. I strongly urge WSBA members to attend any of these meetings, as it will provide insight into what we’re considering for FY 24.
Budget and Audit Committee Meetings:
• April 28, 2023: Presentation of baseline assumptions for FY 24 budget
• May 26, 2023: First draft review
• July 21, 2023: Second draft review
• August 25, 2023: Final review of FY 24 budget & recommendations to Board of Governors
Board of Governors Meetings:
• June 23-24, 2023: First draft review
• August 11-12, 2023: Second draft review
• September 23-24, 2023: Final FY 24 budget review & approval
Your Board’s finance team works for you. We welcome your feedback, opinions, and suggestions. In my next column, I will try to include your questions, suggestions, opinions (if we receive any), and the finance team’s responses. You can send your comments to email@example.com, or to Bar News at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In closing, I want to highlight three great causes that raise funds to support access to justice in Washington: the KCBA MLK Jr. Luncheon, the annual Goldmark Luncheon organized by Legal Foundation of Washington and the Campaign for Equal Justice, and the Spokane County Bar Association Diversity Section Carl Maxey Scholarship Fund for law students. As your treasurer, I would like to encourage you to support efforts like these that seek to champion justice in our state.