GPA Dues Increase and Rate Change Summary & Recommendation

Executive Summary: The Mission of the Georgia Chapter of the American Planning Association is to provide leadership to plan and build vibrant communities throughout Georgia; advocate support for sound planning; and provide its members with tools, services, and support that advance the art and science of planning.

  • APA National is calling for standardizing of Chapter membership dues, and encourages Chapters to adopt a percentage-based dues rate (i.e. 20%, 30%, or 40% of national dues) by December 31, 2017.
  • GPA has gradually increased its member services in recent years, principally through additional events and programs; however, the Chapter’s two primary sources of income (membership dues and conference profits) have remained flat or decreased.
  • GPA has continued to adopt a balanced budget but continued pressures to provide more services and streamline online delivery of services will require additional revenue.
  • The GPA Board began exploring the potential of increasing the Chapter’s membership dues at the July 29, 2016 Board meeting as one factor in addressing the future needs of the Chapter.
  • GPA Chapter dues have not changed since 2007, when individual annual membership rates increased from $25 to $35.
  • APA National is implementing a new dues structure for new (young and emerging) professionals, and students that will have an impact on our budget for the 100+ members in these categories in Georgia. This new dues structure results in a further decrease in revenue.
  • When GPA adopts a percentage-based dues rate, the Chapter will need to determine an appropriate Chapter-only membership rate as well.
  • An increase in the chapter dues must be submitted to APA National by September 30, 2017 to allow processing and implementation by January 1, 2018.

Recommendation: The GPA Chapter President recommends to the GPA Chapter Board of Directors that the Chapter dues increase from $35 per year to 20% of APA National membership dues, and that Chapter-only single memberships be increased from $35 to $60 per year. Board approval will be sought at a meeting in July 2017, which will lead to a Chapter-wide vote to occur at the Annual Meeting in September 2017. This will allow for implementation by January 1, 2018.

Background & Overview: GPA has always made every effort to adopt a balanced annual budget, with expected income roughly equating to expected expenses. Over the past few years, this has become increasingly difficult. GPA has lost more than 10% of our members since the Great Recession. Revenue from annual sponsors and conferences has not been consistent. Currently, GPA collects $35 per member for dues for the state Chapter. However, it costs the chapter over $57 per member to deliver the programs members find so valuable. GPA continues to hear requests for increased services, primarily through more education and networking events. These additional services are stretching the chapter’s budget. As the Chapter’s cash flow trends toward a significant imbalance, the Chapter President recommends that the GPA Board of Directors take preemptive action, including exploring an increase to Chapter dues (last increased in 2007).

The idea adopting a percentage-based dues rate and of increasing the Chapter’s dues was introduced at the July 29, 2016 Board meeting. It is anticipated the Board will recommended moving forward with these changes at the July 2017 Board meeting.

The purpose of this report is to consolidate all the background information and analysis, as well as the rationale for the proposed Georgia Chapter dues increase. This report also outlines an implementation schedule for rolling out the dues increase.

Membership Benefits: GPA exists primarily to provide leadership to plan and build vibrant communities throughout Georgia; advocate and support sound planning; and provide its members with tools, services, and support that advance the art and science of planning. As a non-profit organization, the Chapter membership dues must be commensurate with the services it provides to individuals and groups, as well as the work it undertakes as an organization to advance and advocate for planning policy in Georgia.

GPA Membership includes the following benefits:

  1. Membership discounts at the GPA Spring and Fall Conferences and many district events
  2. Subscription to the monthly e-newsletter
  3. Invitations to networking, job, and educational opportunities.
  4. Access to job and RFP/RFQ postings.
  5. Invitations to apply for professional scholarships.

APA National Membership Dues:

A few of the considerations informing the Chapter dues increase are outlined below.

Standardized Dues Structure. Since 2006, APA National has recommended that Chapters update their fees to a percentage of National membership rates (either 25, 35, or 45% of national membership rates). As of the April 2014 Chapter President’s Council (CPC) Budget Review Committee & Task Force Report, APA National began exploring the possibility of requiring Chapters to transition to the standardized dues system. In 2016, the CPC voted to require all Chapters to move to a percentage-based dues system by December 31, 2017.

APA National Dues. Most of APA Georgia’s membership comes from National members who elect to participate in Chapter membership as well (all non-international APA members must participate in a minimum of one Chapter). In addition to the standard $35 single Chapter membership, there are other sub-categories of membership that range from $0 to $25.

Membership Code

Membership Type

Dues

MEM

Regular Member

Based on member salary

NP

New Professional Member

Based on member salary

STU

Student Member

Dues not associated with Early Career Program are $5; Student & NP Dues based on the five-year Early Career Program are as follows: Category ECP1&2=$10; Category ECP3=$14; Category ECP4=$18; and ECP5=$21

FSTU

Free Student Member

$0

RET

APA Retired Member

$10

NOM

Chapter Only Members

(Currently $35 for Georgia; vary by Chapter)

FCLTI/FCLTS

Faculty Members

$25

GPBM

Group Planning Board Members

$5

LIFE

Lifetime Members

$10


Comparison with Other APA Chapters

Percentage vs. Flat Dues. Of the 47 APA Chapters, 23 charge a flat dues rate, while the remaining 24 Chapters now charge a percentage of APA National’s membership rates.

Chapter

National Dues (%)

Alabama

25%

Arizona

25%

Arkansas

20%

Colorado

25%

Connecticut

35%

Florida

45%

Illinois

25%

Indiana

35%

Louisiana

25%

Michigan

35%

Missouri

25%

National Capital Area

20%

Nebraska

25%

Nevada

15%

New Jersey

35%

New Mexico

18%

Northern New England

25%

Ohio

25%

Pennsylvania

45%

South Carolina

15%

Tennessee

15%

Utah

25%

Virginia

35%

Washington

25%

Chapters with Dues Exceeding APA Georgia’s. Chapters with flat dues rates that are higher than APA Georgia’s $35 annual dues include: California ($105), Kansas ($45), Minnesota ($50), New York Metro ($49), North Carolina ($40), Oklahoma ($45), Oregon ($55), Texas ($45), West Virginia ($45), and WI ($45).


Other Considerations

Comparison with Other Membership Organizations. The current (2017) fee structures for other allied organizations are listed below, although it is important to note that member services/benefits range greatly:

  • Urban Land Institute (ULI): National dues only; range $110-$440
  • ASLA: National dues only; range $55-$370
  • AIA: National dues only; range $250-$575; no student rates
  • ICMA/GCCMA: State Chapter dues are $160; Retiree: $50; Student: $25
  • Georgia Society of Professional Engineers: Local Chapter: $145; no student rates
  • Georgia Association of Zoning Administrators: $35

Communications Strategy

Clearly, maintaining transparency with respect to APA Georgia’s financial position and potential changes to the fee structure is key, and keeping the APA Georgia membership up to speed on this topic is a top priority. This is being done through the following communications methods and timelines:

  1. Present Draft to Board Subcommittee in late March for Review.
  2. Introduce the proposed dues changes and considerations in April 2017 at the Chapter Conference.
  3. Introduce proposed dues changes in the Chapter e-newsletter and the chapter website in early June 2017. Include an opportunity to submit comments to the Board through June 30, 2017.
  4. Schedule a Board Retreat by mid-July to discuss the dues increase, rate change, and to address comments from members.
  5. Introduce the dues increase, rate change, and address member comments in the August 2017 Chapter email newsletter.
  6. Present dues increase and rate change at the September 2017 Annual Meeting.
  7. Implement Rate Change and Dues Increase on January 1, 2018.

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