Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Bar Governors Cut Charge for Online Dues Payment
By a MetNews Staff Writer
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Meeting for the first time under new President James O. Heiting, the State Bar Board of Governors has voted to cut a controversial charge for online payment of dues and fees from $9.50 to $5.
Bar officials said the there had been complaints about the “convenience fee,” which was charged to offset fees imposed by Wells Fargo bank for processing the credit card dues payments though the State Bar’s Web site. The fee was originally imposed because the Board of Governors had voted in favor of making a pilot program authorized under the Business and Professions Code self-supporting.
Sec. 6140 of the code says the board “may charge” a fee to “defray costs incurred by” a member’s choice to pay by credit card.
Part of the reduction, a memorandum by State Bar Chief Information Officer Gary Clarke explained, was achieved by negotiating a lower fee with Wells Fargo.
But Clarke’s memo pointed out that with the fee change the program will no longer be entirely self-funding. Instead, Clark said, he anticipated that the convenience fee for the next round of dues payment would generate $45,000 in revenue, which would only partially offset the expected $63,000 in processing charges.
“The remaining $18K will be funded through realized efficiencies in member billing processing,” Clarke wrote, explaining that these involved changes in “back office processing” of dues income which will reduce internal State Bar costs by $50,000.
That money, Clarke said, “can be diverted to absorb the reduction in fees.”
There was no discussion of the reduction at the brief board meeting held in San Diego Sunday morning. Sunday was the last day of the State Bar’s four-day annual convention.
The item, along with several others, was voted on as part of the board’s consent agenda, which was adopted unanimously.
Also accepted at the meeting were Heiting’s choices for board committee assignments for the next 13 months. Heiting will have a slightly longer term of office than did his predecessor, former state Attorney General John K. Van de Kamp, because the next State Bar convention does not take place until October 5-8, 2006 in Monterey.
Heiting has reverted to the traditional procedure of assigning each of the five third-year attorney members of the board to chair one of the board’s standing committee. Last year Van de Kamp named co-chairs of some committees, among them some of the board’s non-lawyer members.
Under Van de Kamp two committees were also consolidated. At Heiting’s urging, the board voted 14-2 at its meeting in Pasadena in July to restore the traditional five-committee structure.
Heiting’s appointments are: Fresno attorney Paul S. Hokokian to chair the Regulation, Admissions and Discipline Oversight Committee; Oakland Deputy City Attorney Demetrius D. Shelton to chair the Member Oversight Committee; Chico attorney Richard L. Crabtree to chair the influential Planning, Program Development, and Budget Committee; Bonita lawyer Raymond G. Aragon to chair the Volunteer Involvement Committee; and Los Angeles attorney Sheldon H. Sloan to chair the Stakeholder Relations Committee.
Though Van de Kamp did not, Heiting and several other recent State Bar presidents chaired the PPDB Committee before being elected to the top office.
Copyright 2005, Metropolitan News Company