Executive Director's Message: Responding to the Economy

Elizabeth Allan, CWEA Executive Director

Elizabeth Allan, CWEA Executive Director

By Elizabeth Allan, CAE*, ABC**,
CWEA’s Executive Director

In this tough economy your CWEA Board remains focused on fulfilling CWEA’s core mission of educating and certifying wastewater professionals while keeping CWEA resilient and relevant for you. CWEA’s financial health is strong…and we’re managing our money carefully. In order to prepare for what might be an uncertain future, the Board did some scenario-thinking at its February meeting…to consider how CWEA would be best positioned over the next 3 years to protect our ability to train and certify if the economy is weak or strong and volunteer resources are scarce or abundant. The Board found there were common implications in the four scenarios explored as well as common strategies that would help CWEA prepare for or adapt to each scenario. This work will be used to help prepare the upcoming fiscal year program of work and budget.

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The Operations Committee of the Board reviewed the annual program of work and proposed budget-savings ideas, including postponing major web site work until FY 09-10 and combining two issues of E-Bulletin into one, adopted by the Board. The Board and staff continue to monitor our cash flow and key revenue indicators very closely. Membership, conference attendance, and certification applications are picking up and certification renewals are on track. At the halfway point of our fiscal year, we are anticipating ending the year under budget on both income and expenses and close to the net bottom line budgeted.

FY 07-08 Audit approved… CWEA received a clean audit of its financial statements for Fiscal Year 07-08 from CWEA’s audit firm, Daoro Zydel & Holland (DZH), with the exception of how we record our membership dues. This annual audit covers the financial activity of all our Local Sections and all our Committees as well as state-level activities. The external auditor uses Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) to review the financial statements of the organization. Although we receive each member’s dues in one payment per year, GAAP requires us to defer (or spread out) in our books the dues revenue we receive over the twelve-month life of the membership. We currently treat membership dues on a cash basis, where we recognize the entire year’s worth of each member’s dues in the month in which we receive the dues. We are taking steps to correct this for the next audit and any changes will not affect how our members pay their dues. The auditor is also required by regulation to provide a management letter noting any fiscal control issues. The auditor noted significant improvement on areas noted in last year’s management letter and work still to be done on member dues deferral (e.g. updating our database reporting to allow us to track deferred member dues) and, local section and committee financial activities.

Healthy reserves in FY 07-08 allowed us to invest in projects to bring you more value. Our FY 07-08 bottom line reflects that planned use of reserves (along with the effect of accrual accounting transition). Mission-related investments included:

Watch your April issue of Wastewater Professional and this issue of E-Bulletin for our FY 07-08 audited financial statements.

Your incoming Board nominees are… At its February meeting the Board approved nominees for the 2009-10 Board slate:

  • Jody Allen, Superintendent with South Placer Municipal Utility District., for Vice President from the North (becoming President in 2011-12);
  • Gayle Tupper, Pre-Treatment and Pollution Prevention Supervisor with EBMUD, for WEF Delegate Director from the North; 
  • Roanne Ross, Managing Engineer with Whitley Burchett & Associates, for Director-at-Large from the North (becoming Treasurer in 2011-12); 
  • Jon Hay, Engineering Manager with Black and Veatch, for Director-at-Large from the South.

Additionally, incoming Southern Regional Committee Chair Debra Bogdanoff, and incoming Technical Certification Program Chair John Mays will be appointed to the 2009-10 Board following recommendations by their respective committees in April. Debra is a Civil Engineer with the Los Angeles County Sanitations District. John is a Sanitary Engineer Associate with the City of Los Angeles.

[Read the nominees’ Board nomination submissions and their resumes of CWEA activities.]

Annual Business Meeting set for April 29th… Come to CWEA’s annual business meeting on April 29th in Palm Springs (during our Annual Conference) to vote on the board nominees, receive a financial update, and learn about our progress on our strategic plan. You don’t need to register for the Annual Conference or attend the luncheon to vote on matters conducted at the business meeting. If you can’t make it, you can assign your proxy to another member who can vote on your behalf at the meeting. You can get a proxy form from CWEA’s office beginning February 16th and return it by April 8th by contacting Victoria Rawson at extension 113 or vrawson@cwea.org. Members will receive a postcard notification of the meeting in February.

Member Communications Task Force plans to tweak web site and test blogging… Ann Heil, CWEA Board Director and Chair of our Member Communications Task Force, is leading the task force in its effort to:

• Revitalize CWEA’s member communication strategies, and
• Provide membership with information and knowledge needed to thrive in our profession, maintain a strong relationship with CWEA, and maintain a strong relationship with each other.

Immediate next steps for the Task Force are adding quick links to the web site’s home page and refreshing the graphics and testing out a blog to see how it might be applied to CWEA communications. Their work will be ongoing for at least 3 years. If you’re interested in serving on the Task Force contact Ann at AHeil@lacsd.org.

CWEA offers special YP dues rate along with the Water Environment Federation (WEF)… At its February meeting the Board also approved continuing indefinitely our introductory offer to Young Professional members of CWEA and WEF that includes half-off membership dues. A Young Professional is a water quality professional in any vocation with five years or less work experience in the industry and who is under the age of 35. This program is valid for the first three years of WEF and CWEA membership. This program is available only to new WEF & CWEA member applicants and WEF & CWEA Student members.

Contribution to WEF YP Summit approved… At its February meeting the Board approved a $500 donation to the WEF Young Professionals (YP) Summit scheduled for April 23, 2009 as part of the WEFMAX (Member Association Exchange) in Nevada. Neighboring MAs, including CWEA, have been asked to help support the event.

Computer-based testing debuted in January 2009; first test-taker says “it’s painless”… The week of January 5, 2009 marked the first week CWEA offered its Technical Certification Program via Computer-Based Testing, (CBT) after 71 years of paper-and-pencil tests.  Sixteen wastewater professionals took the test at the Pearson VUE testing center of their choice…8 took a Collections Systems Maintenance test, 6 took a Wastewater Treatment Plant Maintenance test, 1 took an Industrial Treatment Plant Operations test, and 1 took a Laboratory Analyst test.  That means at least one person took a test in 4 of the 6 vocations. 

Almost 600 wastewater professionals applied to take the test in the first CBT testing window (January to March 2009).  Of those applicants, 406 have already scheduled a date at a Pearson VUE testing center.  So far 118 applicants have applied for the next testing window – April to March 2009. The application deadline for that window is February 27th.

For more information about our new computer-based tests go to www.cwea.org/cert or contact us at 510-382-7800 x106. Try out the CBT demo at www.cwea.org/cbt

Next Board meetings… Your 2008-09 CWEA Board holds its last meeting on April 28th in Palm Springs preceding our Annual Conference. Your 2009-10 CWEA Board holds its first meeting on May 2nd in Palm Springs. This meeting immediately follows the Annual Conference and includes an orientation.

Famous last words…
Only a fool tests the depth of the water with both feet.
~ African Proverb

*Certified Association Executive
**Accredited Business Communicator

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Alec Mackie

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