ALEXANDRIA, Va.-The NCUA Board continued with its review of regulations and considered field of membership changes during its September meeting. The board is seeking comment on whether the agency should offer credit unions options in its official federal credit union bylaws instead of having to apply for waivers in certain instances. For example, NCUA is considering allowing credit unions to decide whether they want each owner of a joint account to become a member or if one would have to open a separate account to establish membership. NCUA’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would also allow credit unions to permit all notices to the member to be sent electronically as long as the member consents. It would also strike the provision that states proxy voters for a member unable to make a meeting cannot vote in their own right, among other items. Many of the changes proposed grew out of “recurring requests,” NCUA Chairman JoAnn Johnson pointed out. “Some of these things are just moving forward with the technology that credit unions are already using today,” she added. Since it has been five years since the bylaw’s last revision, the ANPR includes a number of technical changes as well. NCUA Board Member Debbie Matz said she was particularly interested in reading comments on whether requirements for board members to have training in corporate governance, as public companies have, should be included in the bylaws or in some other form. In another move by the NCUA Board, U.S. Airways Federal Credit Union obtained the relief it was seeking after its sponsor filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the second time recently. With its new community charter – serving Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Washington, and Westmoreland Counties in Pennsylvania – the $607 million credit union has the opportunity to continue doing business as Clearview Federal Credit Union. The community’s population was 2,656,007 at the 2000 census, making it necessary for the board to approve the change. At the time of conversion the credit union had a 94% penetration rate in its field of membership and 14% capital. It has two full-service facilities, five shared branches and by 2006, plans to add three additional full-service branches and five ATMs. Johnson pointed out that the credit union has previously won the Dora Maxwell Award for social responsibility and Louise Herring Award for financial education, which demonstrates the credit union’s commitment to serving its members. The credit union demonstrated that the area met the definition of a local community because of the Pittsburgh metropolitan area hub for business, shopping, employment, and entertainment. The area gets its news from two major newspapers, has one airport, shared facilities and organizations, and cultural and recreational events. “[U.S. Airways FCU] has done an excellent job, worked with a consultant who analyzed the demographics of the community, and done an excellent job of analyzing how it will serve the community,” Matz said. Additionally, the NCUA board also approved an application from Pennsylvania Central Federal Credit Union to convert from a multiple group credit union to a community charter. The area encompassed three counties in Pennsylvania (Cumberland, Dauphin, and Lebanon Counties) with a population of 585,799, which exceeded Regional Director Ed Dupcak’s delegated authority. The credit union has three full-service facilities and is a member of three shared branch facilities and offers no minimum free checking and 113 free ATMs. In its application package, the credit union included two marketing plans: one for the overall community and one for the underserved areas. “They are certainly gearing their services toward the underserved area of this population,” Johnson noted. The chairman and Matz also considered and approved a community charter expansion request for First Community Federal Credit Union to serve a nine-county area in Southwestern Michigan with a population of nearly one million. The credit union currently has six branches and plans to add six more in the next three years. Twenty-seven percent of the potential membership lives in underserved areas. Matz said she was not initially inclined to approve this package because she felt the credit union had not done adequate planning to market and serve the community. But, the credit union came back with a stronger package and a two-phase marketing plan that changed her mind.Matz was also concerned that the credit union had a 22% net worth ratio. “That raises concerns to me about what they are actually doing,” she said, explaining that the credit union had responded that the majority of their field of membership also were members of other credit unions, which led them to retain capital. While Matz accepted this answer, she emphasized, “That is not really the goal. The goal is to serve their members.” Finally, the NCUA Board approved the final version of its fixed assets rule, which had no substantive changes from the proposal. The two major changes to the rule are: 1) to eliminate the inclusion of investments in any entity, such as a CUSO, that holds fixed assets used by the credit union; and 2) to create a 30-month time frame by which the federal credit union has to apply for a waiver if it does not plan partial occupation of premises originally acquired for expansion. Johnson noted that while RegFlex credit unions are immune to the 5% fixed asset cap, they still are not excused from the occupation rule. Matz stressed that 348 federally insured credit unions of which 80 have negative ROAs. “This rule will take care of that,” she said. “We want to get on top of it before it can become a problem.”All items were approved unanimously. [email protected]

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