AVMA budget impacts halls of Congress to clinical practices

$28.8 million budget for '08 will support diverse areas
Published on August 15, 2007
information-circle This article is more than 3 years old

Dr. Bret D. Marsh
AVMA Treasurer Bret D. Marsh began his treasurer's report to the House of Delegates July 13 in Washington, D.C., on a light note, quoting French author Jules Renard: "I know at last what distinguishes man from animals: financial worry."

But there's no need for worry, he said—the AVMA is financially strong.

At the end of 2006, AVMA membership had surpassed 75,000, mutual and managed funds returned 15.28 percent, the 2006 convention in Honolulu posted a record attendance of 10,000, and total AVMA net income exceeded expenses by $2 million.

Dr. Marsh said the AVMA's current financial position lists cash and government funds at $1 million, receivables at $1.2 million, prepaid expenses at $400,000—and investments at $27 million.

The AVMA investment strategy was adjusted in late 2004 when a long-term fund was established, and this past April, the Executive Board increased the principal limit for this fund.

"Clearly, the impact of these changes has resulted in enhanced investment earnings that contribute to the overall fiscal health of the Association," Dr. Marsh said. "The additional revenues have grown to the extent that dues increases have not been necessary the last few years."

Last year's investment earnings reached a record $2.3 million, and this year's budget projects $1.5 million. As of June 30, the earnings were already 72 percent of this projection, with six months remaining in the fiscal year.

Member dues have not increased since 2004, but dues income has grown steadily with the expanding membership and represents 60 percent of the AVMA's income. In the FY 2008 budget, dues revenue is projected at $16.6 million. With income projected at $118,140 over expenses, a dues increase is not needed.

The AVMA's fixed assets include AVMA headquarters in Schaumburg, Ill., with a current market value of $5.5 million and the Governmental Relations Division offices in Washington, D.C., valued at $3.5 million. Adding the value of computer and office equipment to those property values brings the total fixed assets to $10 million. Both buildings underwent major remodeling during the past year.

On the expense side, salaries and benefits represent the largest expense to the AVMA. Currently the AVMA has 139 full-time positions, including nine in Washington, D.C. About 23 percent of AVMA staff are veterinarians. Publications and the annual convention, important membership services, are also major expenses.

Dr. Marsh outlined the diverse areas that the $28.8 million, 2008 budget supports—notably, the staff, the work of all the AVMA entities, the scientific journals, the veterinary accreditation program, the pursuit of scientific answers to issues, communications and marketing initiatives, member services, and attunement with legislative issues.

"Therefore," Dr. Marsh said, "this budget will have an impact from the halls of Congress to the classrooms and libraries of veterinary schools the world over; from the research facilities in pursuit of science in all of its disciplines, to the clinical practices in each of our states; from the maintenance of buildings to the retention and recruitment of a high-quality staff ... it's all in there."

Dr. Marsh said the budget provides realistically for the 2008 AVMA Annual Convention in New Orleans.

"I believe it is very important that each of us carry the message to the membership and to the many contributors to our annual convention that New Orleans is definitely open for business," he said.

"Although we have all seen images of the challenges in a post-Katrina New Orleans, the areas that will host our convention have been fully restored, and our full participation is needed for the continuing recovery of that unique city."