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No fee increase anticipated in next Bar budget.

There were no numbers given, but the Bar Board of Governors heard some early good news on the 2004-05 fiscal budget it will get for review at the April 2 meeting.

Board member Jerald Beer, the 2004-05 Budget Committee chair, told the board at its January 30 meeting that the next budget should break even or produce a surplus without raising Bar dues.

"We will have a budget for you at the April meeting," Beer reported. "It will be a budget that will be balanced and will probably have some surplus to it."

The budget for next year is giving considerable attention to technology versus paper and printing costs, he said, adding the Budget Committee hopes to save money in that area not only for next year but also in future budgets.

The committee is also looking at the impact of policy decisions on Bar computer information services costs. As an example, Beer noted a few years ago the board adopted a term limits policy for Bar committees. But no one, he said, considered the costs of how that would be accomplished in the computer age.

The Budget Committee will be recommending that just as new programs and policies are reviewed by the Budget and Program Evaluation committees, they also should be checked with the Bar's information services operations for any unanticipated costs or problems, Beers said.

Current Budget Committee Chair Jesse Diner presented the amendments to the 2003-04 budget.

They included $10,000 for a diversity symposium, which will focus on the legal profession. It has the support of Bar President Miles McGrane, as well as St. Thomas School of Law Dean Bob Butterworth, and the Bar's Equal Opportunity in the Profession Section. The symposium, to be held at St. Thomas, is scheduled for April 16-17.

The audit of the Bar's communications operations was also supported by the Communications Committee. Communications Committee Chair Jim Lupino, though, said that the panel still had some questions, including whether questioning only 200 Bar members would give valid statistical results. The committee also wanted assurances the $39,500 price is fair and the sample is adequate.

Other amendments included providing $25,000 to the Justice Institute. Diner said that will allow 25 teachers to be brought to Tallahassee and trained about the court system, including having the educators conduct an appellate mock trial at the Supreme Court acting as both advocates and judges.

The board also approved an amendment transferring $250,000 into each of the Bar's equipment and building maintenance reserve funds. Diner said the transfer will ensure the Bar has money to make routine and unforeseen building repairs and equipment upgrades.
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Author:Blankenship, Gary
Publication:Florida Bar News
Date:Feb 15, 2004
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