Greetings. Hope you are all well.
Our January 11th Zoom meeting was well attended. Our speaker, Andrea Tevlin, shared fascinating insights about what it was like to be the first Independent Budget Analyst for the City of San Diego. If you missed it, you can view it on the REA YouTube channel.
At the January 11th meeting, I announced that your REA Board is proposing to increase our member dues by $1 per month. If approved by the membership at our March 8th General Meeting, it will be the first dues increase since 2006. The Board’s detailed justification for this proposal is presented below. Please review this and join us March 8th.
REA Board of Directors’ Statement Regarding a Proposal to Increase Dues – For Consideration by the General REA Membership on March 8, 2022
The REA Board of Directors proposes to increase the monthly dues by $1 per month. The proposed increase is needed due to the pressures of inflation, the expansion of our mission, the added services and value to our members, and the increased cost of our growing non-profit organization becoming more business-like and professional. This proposal will be presented to the REA membership at our March 8th Zoom meeting
First, some brief history: REA began as an informal organization in 1966. We incorporated and were granted non-profit 501(c)7 status in 1985. We shifted our emphasis from a social organization to one focused on advocacy in the early 2000’s. Dues to operate REA were set at $1 per month in 2003. With the increased legal threats to our pensions, an additional $1 per month to our dues was added in 2006, but that $1 per month was restricted to a new REA Legal Fund. This total of $2 per month has not changed since that date. To repeat, the dues amount dedicated to the REA Operating Fund has not increased since 2003.
Added value for our members: For over 60 years, the REA has existed to advance the social and economic welfare of all retired City employees and their beneficiaries. Over the years this has included many things, from social opportunities to defending our pensions when they have been under attack.
We advocate on your behalf with SDCERS, especially in cases where retirees encounter unexpected roadblocks. With your support, we oversee the Legal Fund that, as of the end of 2021, was over $334,000 and growing, to be used in case of future legal threats to our pensions.
We meet with City Council members and other elected leaders to help ensure that they are aware of our organization and the important contributions of our members. We expect those relationships will be of great value moving forward. We co-founded and actively support the San Diego Retirement Security Roundtable, which includes representatives of most of the retired public employee associations in San Diego (local, county, state, and federal). Through the Roundtable, we exchange information and help each other advocate for public retirees and pension security. We now offer additional benefits to member retirees through our affiliation with the San Diego Public Employee Benefit Association (SDPEBA). Many of you have availed yourselves of these benefits through easy payroll deduction.
Expanding our Mission. Over the past several years, we have been taking substantial steps to raise the image of City of San Diego retirees and REA in the community. In April 2020, REA donated $3,000 on behalf of its members to the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund. We also support efforts like the Restoring Respect initiative of the University of San Diego’s Institute for Civil Civic Engagement, City of San Diego-Prevent Drowning Foundation Learn-to-Swim program, SD Food Bank fund raising drives, and quality, balanced journalism, among other things. You can see reference to our support in the Voice of San Diego Morning Report, in the Union Tribune, and in other places. We are actively working to emphasize that as retirees we are Still Serving the Community. A new REA volunteer program was recently initiated that allows our members to work together to make organized contributions of their time to the City and community. Recent events include volunteering for EarthLab, Habitat for Humanity, and partnering with Councilmember Sean Elo-Rivera for a local “Read Across America” day for children in grades K-5. These efforts are an expansion of our mission and selectively require targeted financial and volunteer investments. We believe these investments will produce very positive returns for the image of retired City employees and for REA.
Managed our growth and professionalized our operations. We believe our volunteer Board of Directors does an excellent job of overseeing these many services and activities. However, with over 1,700 members, we have outgrown our ability to efficiently manage our operations solely with volunteers. We contracted with Integrated Labor Solutions, Inc. for professional membership management services and also contracted with SDPEBA for an REA call center that provides REA telephone coverage during business hours, M-F. You’ve no doubt noticed our expanded website at www.csdrea.org and you receive our upgraded monthly Newsletter and eBlasts via email or US Mail. We’ve been able to significantly improve our website by cost-effectively outsourcing website development, hosting, and maintenance.
We hope soon to be able to streamline our services to you by also accepting credit card payments online and offering online membership applications and pension deduction authorization (electronic signature) forms. While some of our members prefer paper forms, members and prospective members are increasingly expecting digital access similar to how they interact online with other organizations and businesses. We need to adapt to these expectations. Even so, we will continue to offer paper alternatives for those members who do not use email or other electronic forms of communication.
All of these services and others we expect to roll out in the coming years come with a cost, which we are finding exceeds the current REA member dues structure. The Board of Directors is therefore proposing a $1 increase per month.* Per our by-laws, $1 per month per member will continue to go to the Legal Fund. We are hopeful that you will agree that this small increase is justified by the expanded services we are offering and the increased professionalism of REA. Rest assured that the lion’s share of our services will continue to be overseen by volunteers, who need the financial support this change will underwrite.
Thank you for your ongoing support and consideration of this proposal. We can assure you that your funds will continue to be carefully and prudently expended, to the benefit of all of our members, with the oversight of our volunteer leadership.
How to cast your vote: Join us for our March 8th Zoom meeting starting at 11am (we suggest you log on by 10:45 am). For those who receive our email Newsletters and eBlasts you will be sent the Zoom link and meeting info ahead of the meeting. For those who cannot participate on-line, you can join the meeting via telephone by calling 1-669-900-6833. The Zoom Meeting ID is 832-3970-6458 and Passcode is 663035. Questions? Call our Call Center at 1-888-730-4935.
*Upon approval dues would be as follows: $3 per month for members paying by pension deduction and $45 per year for those paying annually. Per our By-laws, dues would increase 60 days after adoption by the membership.