<p>ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Underscoring the problem of mergers and a shrinking credit union population, the New Mexico Credit Union League is joining the parade of state Leagues opting for a dues increase, but the move also comes as the association's leadership considers consolidation of its service corporation with those of out-of-state Leagues. "There are all kinds of options that we will be looking at including partnering arrangements," explained Christopher T. Jillson, chairman of the New Mexico League and president/CEO of Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union here. The out-of-state linkups could involve a partnership with Texas, California or other nearby states in much the same pattern as existing management contracts between Colorado/Wyoming and California/Nevada, said Jillson. The motivating force in eying an out-of-state linkup, said Jillson is simply "economies of scale" and the problems of sustaining a "volume driven" service corporation. The dues increase-amounting to an average of 3.8%-is to be considered by the League membership June 14 at a business session during the annual meeting June 13-15 in Albuquerque. Any move toward out-of-state "partnering" of the service unit, League Services Corp., said Jillson, would come later in 2002 as the result of work by a special planning committee to be appointed after the annual meeting. In a May 20 letter explaining the rationale behind the dues increase, the League noted the merger environment has altered the New Mexico landscape. "Ten credit unions have been merged or liquidated since 1992 and that decline is predicted to continue," said the letter signed by Jillson and John Radebaugh, president and CEO of the League. The League counts 55 member CUs. Regarding dues, the letter noted that the existing structure including a "cap" on CUs above $17 million in assets, limited revenue needed for lobbying, and basic advocacy expense. "Like all trade associations, a significant amount of income is derived from our dues," said the letter noting that "since 36% of the operating income is derived from dues, it is imperative the dues structure supports the League's operations well into the future." The letter also explained that the Board and its Bylaws Committee, which started work on the dues issue last February, felt the need to make the dues structure "more equitable." The dues impact "on the bottomline of smaller credit unions can be significant compared to that of larger credit unions," said the letter. Though some CUs would feel a greater dues pinch than others-and some small CUs (under $5 million in assets) would experience a decline in their dues-the proposed dues increase overall "has a very modest increase of 3.8%," said the League which noted that other state Leagues have considered much higher increases. "Some Leagues across the country are raising dues as much as 40%," said the letter in an apparent reference to the Colorado Credit Union League's adoption of a 42% dues increase May 3 during its annual meeting in Colorado Springs. Under the dues plan being considered in New Mexico, the maximum any CU's dues can increase in a year is 15%, said the letter. A dues inflation clause "has been eliminated," said the letter that outlined calculations of dues based on asset size. Regarding the league's service corporation, Jillson said he and members of the League staff have been talking to any number of Leagues with larger operations including neighboring Texas. "I've spoken to people in California, Idaho and Colorado about the different options before us," he said. It's also understood that over the years, New Mexico has been in touch with the League in its western neighbor Arizona, which also has a small number of CUs but several in the billion-dollar ranking. The largest CU in New Mexico is Jillson's Sandia Laboratory FCU with $720 million in assets. One comparable tie-in cited by the New Mexico League involves Arkansas and Texas which in 1995 bought the Arkansas League's service corporation and which today provides core services to Arkansas CUs. Lobbying, education and compliance functions are retained by the Arkansas League with a "consultant" from the Texas League on premises in Little Rock to coordinate activities. -</p> <p>[email protected]</p>

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