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April 16, 2008

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Many of us are enjoying the newfound spending power of the Loonie, but some of us know that the upswing in our currency has its downsides, too. Take the national RASC as an example.

When the Canadian dollar was low relative to the U.S. dollar, the RASC sold many Observers Handbooks and other products to American customers. Today those products are harder to sell, and the result is that the income of the national society has taken a serious hit.

National has taken a number of measures to deal with falling revenues, including making the RASC Journal an electronic publication, but the financial problems persisted. With the assistance of a special Board Pilot Committee elected last year, the national executive and national council have decided on a course of action to bring the RASC's national books back into balance.

A survey of the membership showed that most members preferred to continue receiving the current package of benefits, including the Observer's Handbook, the Journal in electronic form or printed for an extra fee, and a subscription to SkyNews magazine, among other things.

Therefore, the executive and the Board Pilot Committee recommended that dues be increased by $7 a year to allow members to continue to receive the current services from the national society and bring the society's revenues into line with expenses. National council passed this recommendation at a meeting on March 30.

But there is one more step. At the RASC's annual general meeting in Toronto on June 30, members will vote on this proposal to raise dues. If this proposal goes through, annual RASC dues will increase to $66 a year, $44 of which will go to the national society and $22 to the centres, including the Victoria Centre in the case of Victoria Centre members.

If the members at the AGM reject the dues increase, the national executive will be empowered to negotiate a new agreement with the publishers of SkyNews magazine which would see the printed version of the magazine become an optional service for RASC members for an additional fee, with all RASC members still having access to an electronic version of the magazine.

While members are invited to attend the national AGM and the associated astronomical activities at the General Assembly in Toronto, any member can vote by proxy at the national AGM.

As our national representative, I will be attending the AGM and I will be happy to cast proxies from Victoria Centre members, regardless of what side of the dues question they stand on. Proxy forms and information will be mailed to all RASC members in advance of the AGM, and I can be contacted at Victoria Centre meetings and at the Astronomy Caf�.

The national society has also been occupied bringing itself up to date with changes in federal tax regulations. The national RASC and the Victoria Centre are both registered charities, but the national society will have to change the way it shares revenue with the centres.

This change will not have a great impact on the Victoria Centre, except possibly for life members. At the moment, the national RASC is working on a new revenue sharing scheme to deal with life members. The national society will be consulting soon with life members.

As the result of a difference over the procedures used to deal with the Canada Revenue Agency, Scott Young of Winnipeg has resigned as national president of the RASC. He has been replaced for the balance of his term by Dave Lane of Halifax, who had been first vice-president. A new executive will be elected at the AGM in Toronto.


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Last updated: January 29, 2014

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