KV Members Opposed to Charter Change, Merger Begin to Organize
The credit union leadership joined the leaders of Kennebec Savings Bank to announce the proposed move in September, and the credit union's board voted to move forward in October. Since then the CU has been working through the conversion process with the NCUA and has said it expects to deliver disclosure documents and hold a member vote in the spring of 2009.
The proposal has been reported in the local media and has drawn comments from members. Some of those member comments appeared to have helped members who doubted the proposed move or opposed it outright to find each other. They have recently held their first meeting, according to local media accounts.
About 10 members of the $51 million KV Federal gathered recently at a member's home to discuss their dissatisfaction with and opposition to a proposed plan to convert KV to a mutual bank charter and merge it with a local bank.
According to an account in the local press, a KV member who also has funds on deposit at Kennebec Savings Bank, stressed that she did not have anything against the bank but believed her community is best served by having both a bank and credit union.
"The credit union was just something that was started because it was needed in the area. It was very much needed, and I think it's still very much needed, especially today," explained Lucille Cloutier, a KV member who, with her husband Martin, hosted the meeting, according to an account in The Kennebec Journal. "We have nothing against Kennebec Savings Bank," said Cloutier. "It's the issue of changing it from a credit union to a banking institution."
The paper also reported that Martin Cloutier is a founding member of KV.
Local press accounts said the group has taken the name KV Members Matter and has planned subsequent meetings to discuss strategy and plan communications with other members. No member of the group could be reached for comment by press time.
A representative of the Maine Credit Union League said the league had been contacted by some KV members and league President John Murphy was quoted in the press saying the league would provide the members with information.
Jon Paradise, governmental and public affairs manager for the MCUL, said he doubted the league would have to offer much in the way of communications assistance to the members.
"They seem to be pretty well organized and have a pretty good idea of what they want and need to do," Paradise said.
An international association of cooperatives may also provide some assistance to the new group.
National Cooperative Business Association, a Washington-based association that considers itself "the lead national membership association representing cooperatives of all types and in all industries," stands ready to help any of KV's members who think they would be better served by KV continuing as a cooperative, according to Adam Schwartz, vice president for public affairs for NCBA.
Schwartz said the association is looking into KV's proposed conversion and merger and is aware that there are members who have expressed dissatisfaction with the idea. None of them have yet contacted the association, Schwartz said.
NCBA played a role with member information and communication in the controversy over a proposed conversion at Lafayette Federal Credit Union in 2006.
No one from the CU returned phone calls to comment on the formation of the member group as of press time, but press accounts quoted an e-mail from KV CEO Beverly Beaucage in which she said it was the members right to organize in opposition to the proposal.