ALCTS Financial Report: FY 2003 and FY 2004 Trends

Katherine Walter, Chair, Budget & Finance Committee

ALCTS ended its 2002-2003 fiscal year with a net budget deficit of $60,500. Last year's deficit was attributed to several factors. These include: higher labor costs; poor continuing education program revenues; and publications expenses associated with the North American Title Count and with LRTS.

Let me address each of these three issues. ALCTS used to share staff with LAMA, but in FY 2001, the two divisions decided to separate their operations. ALCTS personnel and operating costs immediately rose. Personnel costs continue to rise as pay increases are offered to staff and as benefits costs go up. One concern is that ALCTS dues do not cover personnel costs. ALCTS has been experiencing a slow decline in memberships that causes a decline in dues revenue.

Continuing education revenues have been lagging well behind projections. This is in part because there is more competition for audiences. ALA now offers almost double the number of preconferences it did a few years ago, though the number of ALA members has not grown. This past year's budget also was affected by poor attendance in Toronto. Consequently, ALCTS had to cancel a promising preconference that was supposed to serve as a model for regional institutes. Unhappily, ALCTS is often put in the situation of depending upon fourth-quarter revenues. Generally, fewer institutes and workshops are being proposed by ALCTS committees and members. These have traditionally provided income during ALA non-conference periods.

Publication costs have been rising and advertising revenues have been down. This issue of the ALCTS Newsletter Online also contains an article discussing the ALCTS Board of Directors' decision to no longer fund the North American Title Count. We are hopeful that this decision, coupled with a more substantial LRTS, will result in fewer losses. Sometimes unexpected expenses arise, however. For example, the cost associated with ALA's new Web site system was an unbudgeted expense.

The budget, which has continued to slip in recent years, has caused ALCTS to dip into its reserve fund. In FY 2002, the Division had about an eight-month reserve. As of August 2004, ALCTS is projected to have only a four-month reserve. The Budget and Finance Committee is projecting another deficit budget at the end of FY 04, and plans to make some recommendations to the ALCTS Board of Directors this summer to address the situation.

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