Executive Director's Message

Executive Director Elizabeth Allan

Elizabeth Allan, CAE, Executive Director

This Executive Director’s Message highlights the June 27-28 Board workshop and meeting. CWEA’s fiscal year starts July 1 so much of this issue is dedicated to the FY 13-14 program of work and budget just approved by the Board.

CWEA is moving forward to help our members move forward…On June 28th, the Board approved CWEA’s FY 13-14 budget and an ambitious program of work. This includes the roll-out to our members of the new Association Management System (AMS) technology infrastructure. The AMS is our largest technology upgrade project ever (larger than Computer-Based-Testing roll-out even) and will help make the CWEA experience even better for our members.

After years of enduring and adjusting to the economic slowdown, CWEA is growing again (we’ve reached our highest membership level ever) and we’re reinvesting in projects to bring our association and profession into the 21st Century and make it a vital resource for members. CWEA is moving forward to help our members and their employers move forward.

The Board outlined several key ongoing priorities: upgrading member services; rolling-out the AMS; maintaining CWEA’s high certification standards; helping members advance in their careers and become excellent wastewater leaders; and remaining flexible and innovative so our association and members can support the utilities of the future. There are eight priority projects and a dozen more waiting in our project parking lot.

Projects to highlight for FY13-14: AMS roll-out; electrical/instrumentation exam revalidation; expanding leadership seminars; statewide certification preparation seminars; pesticide research funding; replace our financial management software; recharge and continue expanding Annual Conference; and digitize our magazines – starting with great wastewater stories from the 1930s. A couple more projects will be added pending clarification and volunteer/staff time. Check out the CWEA Roadmap and AMS project infographics to see what’s coming next.

Association Management System on track and under budget. New infrastructure means better customer service for you…Replacing our Association Management System is budgeted to cost $153,000 for implementation in FY 13-14.  In the years following implementation we have budgeted $54,000 in annual licensing fees to maintain the AMS and $30,000 per year in staff/consulting support to help us use the system to its fullest extent. We’ve saved for the new AMS implementation in a Project Fund – just as you would save for a capital improvement project – and are ready to make this critical investment for CWEA. Our professional staff are negotiating a pre-payment agreement of that annual support fees that could result in an estimated $65k savings over six years.  These savings would mean this major infrastructure upgrade is not only on track but also under budget. We’re nearing the finish line now, as the new system will launch in October.

Member dues increase $8. Conference fees stay the same. Certification application fees go up $5 and renewal fees go up $2…With every budget, the Board looks at the pricing of all of the products and services that CWEA provides – to both members and nonmembers – taking into account CWEA’s need for sustainability and as well as our fiscal realities. During the worst of the economic crisis (2008 – 2011), the Board kept dues static despite increases in overall operational costs.  We are still catching up from that dues freeze. See our budget infographic.

The Board is keeping CWEA on stable financial ground by prioritizing our existing program-of-work and setting membership dues at $148/year, an $8 increase. This allows us to rebuild the project fund so we can prepare for future opportunities. Being good stewards of CWEA finances requires us to manage our current commitments efficiently, while keeping an eye on longer-terms trends that impact our effectiveness.

In order to cover ongoing revalidation costs to keep certification tests job-related and defensible, we are in our last year of modest certification fee increases over four years that the Board approved in June 2010.  FY 13-14 raises certification application fees by $5 and renewal fees by $2. The Board continues to invest into the program from the Project Fund to minimize the impact of fee increases on our certificate-holders.

Certification policy amended to extend reinstatement period to two years…The Board approved revisions to our certification policy (02-03 TCP Recertification) to extend the period for reinstating an expired certificate from one year to two years. This is a last-choice option for certificate-holders as applicable late penalties will still apply.

Regional Committees update…CWEA’s Regional Committees (NRC and SRC) are a forum for Local Section and State Committee communication and collaboration. Each Local Section should send a voting member (President or Vice-President) or proxy to the quarterly in-person meetings. In FY 13-14, the Regional Committees plan to:

  • Share leadership challenges and successes.
  • Honor long-time water environment professionals through the new Quarter Century Recognition program. If you know someone who has contributed to the water environment field for 25 years (or longer!), submit him or her for this special award. They’ll receive a certificate and lapel pin at AC14.
  • Connect larger sections with smaller sections to help put on training wherever it is needed. Struggling to find a speaker or need resources to support your educational initiative? Your CWEA local section (and committee) colleagues can help.
  • Integrate leadership training into meetings to make them even more valuable. Contact NRC Chair Steve Caswell or SRC Chair Megan Yoo to suggest a topic.
  • Provide a free lunch, where you’ll be able to network with CWEA leaders. Share best practices, get to know your fellow volunteers and have a little fun.

Local section & committee budgets approved… The Board approved FY 13-14 budgets for local sections and committees (a small portion of the P3S committee budget was referred to the Executive Committee for further clarification).  The Board has also asked staff to follow up on local section budgets to gather more information needed for our financial reporting requirements.

Training coming soon: Northern Regional Training Conference in Modesto, September 10-12, Tri-State Seminar in Las Vegas, September 23-26, and Northern Safety Conference in Woodland on October 23.

Next Board meeting…The next Board meeting will be September 10, 2013 in Modesto, CA, as part of the Northern Regional Training Conference.

I welcome your feedback. Please be sure to tell me what you think is needed to help our members and our association move forward.

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