Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association

Letter from the MAC URISA President

MAC URISA members and friends,

Over the last few years the board has presented information about some of the changes that has been happening in our parent organization, URISA International, and how those changes will affect our chapter. Well, those changes are about to happen. Today we are asking you to participate in a URISA survey that will be used to determine member costs.

Over the last 26 years MAC URISA has existed as an independent organization from URISA as all the other chapters have operated. Currently we are our own legal entity with our own tax ID, exempt status and financial responsibilities. As an independent entity we have had little to no oversight, fees, requirements or obligations to/from the parent organization of URISA. However, that is about to change. URISA is beginning a process previously called the Unified Membership Model (UMM) and now rebranded as OneURISA, in which each MAC URISA chapter member will have to become a member of URISA to remain a chapter member. The cost for being a URISA member is currently $175 a person but the membership costs under OneURISA has yet to be determined - that information will be disclosed this October at GISPro after the results of the survey has been analyzed.

There are few chapters in URISA that do not charge dues. In the eyes of URISA we are an old small chapter that doesn't charge dues. There is only one other chapter that are in the same category as we are, and that is Alaska. However, unlike Alaska we do not have an annual conference that is held in conjunction with the state. We believe Alaska's plan is to bury the membership costs in their conference costs. Since all other chapters charge dues, it is very possible that the results of the survey will show that the membership finds higher dues acceptable. This is where our members need to take action. We need a large number of responses from our region that will reflect the type of dues we are willing to pay. The dues that will be collected will be used at the parent level and not used directly at the chapter, giving our board no direct additional revenue to run events with.

I am sure you are wondering, "Why would MAC URISA be asking about this? Why don't we just become a new organization and keep our free membership?" Well, the answer to that is insurance. The biggest benefit of being a chapter of MAC URISA is the insurance that we get from URISA that allows us to have our meetings, workshops and conferences. The board has looked into what it would cost to have equivalent insurance on our own and our research indicates that insurance may in the magnitude of $10,000 annually.

So, realistically we want to continue to have the type of events that we have had in the past, but our costs will have to increase somehow. Should we decide not to be a chapter of URISA we may need to have different types of events or partner with other organizations that have insurance. If we decide to remain a chapter of URISA we will have to comply with the requirements of URISA which will be to charge additional fees to non-members and only allow URISA members to vote at our chapter level. This is the time to voice your opinions, you have the power to influence the rate of the dues of URISA will be. The survey is only about URISA rates, not any additional cost that our chapter would need OR the cost of our events.

I urge you to respond to this survey and share your opinions with the decision makers of URISA.

Thank you,


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