April 16, 2008
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
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
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.