AVMA 2011 budget includes $1.7 million excess


A dues increase for veterinarians generates a surplus to replenish AVMA's fiscal reserve.

Schaumburg, Ill. — After a few years of economic downturn, the American Veterinary Medical Association's (AVMA) annual budget, approved by the Executive Board in April, is posting $1.7 million in excess revenue.

The revenue boost comes in part from a $50 annual dues increase approved by the board back in January. At the time, AVMA pointed to a $2 million deficit in 2009 and a $7 million deficit in 2008 brought on by shrinking revenues and investment losses.

While the 2010 budget was balanced, the association had been forced in recent years to tap into its more than $20 million reserve fund to cover escalating costs of doing business. The dues increase was set to raise about $3.5 million per year for AVMA starting in 2011.

The $1.7 million excess in the $29.5 million budget for 2011 will go toward replacing the $7 million spent from the reserves in 2008, AVMA says.

The 2011 budget reflects an $865,889 increase in expenses, which AVMA Treasurer Dr. Bret Marsh says is "very reasonable" and can be attributed to inflation. It also includes a $2.6 million increase in revenue. Some of that revenue comes from about $415,000 in additional support from the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, which Marsh says will begin to take on costs for certain programs concerning disaster relief, animal welfare and other initiatives previously funded by AVMA.

Last year, AVMA predicted it would end 2010 with $1 million less in expenses and about $90,000 in revenue. The total budget for the year had been set at $28.6 million, down from 2009's $29.6 budget.

Planning for the 2011 budget began in January, and Marsh says he's happy with the way things are looking for next year.

"I'm pleased with where the budget is," he says. "We've always maintained a strong financial position, though it's certainly been challenging over the last few years."

The dues increase, and its subsequent revenue excess, will put AVMA in a position to continue to provide "quality services" to its membership — a goal which has been "squeezed" over the last few years, Marsh says.

But 2010 is not over yet, and Marsh says he still is expecting some challenges, and put lessons learned this year into effect for 2011. Investments haven't provided nearly as much income in recent years as in the past, and the budget is being structured to reflect AVMA's current position.

"2010 is going to be challenging, and we anticipated in our 2011 budget that we wouldn't be as reliant on investment income," he says. "We've always tried to project a conservative budget. We've tried to adjust our expectations of these revenue streams that we've enjoyed in the past."

Several staff positions that opened in AVMA over the last few years and were kept vacant now are being filled, but only those that are "mission-critical," Marsh says.

There are still some minor tweaks being made to the budget before it can be finalized by a vote from the House of Delegates at the 2010 AVMA Convention in Atlanta July 31 to August 3. Watch for breaking coverage from the convention on dvm360.com.

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