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Thread: Why are AICP/APA dues insane?

  1. #26
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian View post
    if you pay dues and feel you aren't getting anything out of it - then be part of the solution, get involved with your chapter or if you are a memver of a division, help there - we all have regional APA and AICP reps, so get to know them and tell them what they should be doing
    I was suffering from sticker shock when I first posted this, having just paid what I considered a large amount of money online (quite possibly my largest single online purchase ever, I should add, albeit one that will ultimately be reimbursable), but I see your point to an extent.

    I do have one question, since you are division head. How do I become involved? When I completed my AICP, I wrote to the appropriate division head at the local chapter where I live, to ask how I should get involved.. several times. And never once heard back. As far as I can tell, the division is locally dormant (by the way, I workin and belong to a local chapter different from the one my profile indicates.. just protective of privacy on these boards, I guess). Should I write the PDO? The chapter president? The newsletter never seems to solicit volunteers or provides for outlets for engagement.
    Last edited by Cismontane; 07 Jan 2011 at 10:23 AM.

  2. #27
    Cyburbian
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    I will second luckless pedestrian. Serving on a chapter APA executive board (which is far different than just volunteering) I found out there is a cubic ton of stuff that National APA does behind the scenes that many of us rank and file planners do not know.

    • National APA has Chapter Presidents Council (CPC) meetings twice a year: in the Fall and Spring (the latter is at the national conference). There are always new people at each since different chapters have different election terms, and the CPC meetings are conferences by themselves.
    • National APA sets guidelines for reserve funds for chapter budgets (which should be one years worth of operating funds).
    • National APA offers free hosting of chapter websites, so the chapters don't have to oversee security issues, viruses, and even major updates. Running and maintaining ANY website is expensive, although many chapters opt out of this and run and maintain their own sites.
    • I belong to a PDO exchange listserv run by National APA.

    I think there are two major responsibilities.
    1. National APA should explain exactly EVERYTHING that they do for dues-paying members, not just Planning Magazine, JAPA, etc. I think if more planners were aware of the services to oversee chapters, divisions, etc. they would understand WHY dues are high. National APA is NOT just about you, you, you.
    2. APA Chapter Executive Boards need to ensure their chapter members understand that National APA and the Chapter APA, though related, are often treated as two separate entities. Most chapter board members in most states do all of this work for free. Some planners in my chapter complain that the chapter dues are too high (we have one of the lowest in the nation and hasn't been increased in over 25 years!).

    In regards to a separate thread, volunteering for a conference or other event or serving as a student member (while very important) is NOT the same thing as running a chapter or a division. We have a whole set of different headaches! Using chapter APA dues to pay for an executive board lunch or flying one or two board members to a conference comes with the territory, just like any professional association in any industry.
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  3. #28
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    National APA has Chapter Presidents Council (CPC) meetings twice a year: in the Fall and Spring (the latter is at the national conference). There are always new people at each since different chapters have different election terms, and the CPC meetings are conferences by themselves.
    National APA sets guidelines for reserve funds for chapter budgets (which should be one years worth of operating funds).
    National APA offers free hosting of chapter websites, so the chapters don't have to oversee security issues, viruses, and even major updates. Running and maintaining ANY website is expensive, although many chapters opt out of this and run and maintain their own sites.
    I belong to a PDO exchange listserv run by National APA.

    I think there are two major responsibilities.
    1. National APA should explain exactly EVERYTHING that they do for dues-paying members, not just Planning Magazine, JAPA, etc. I think if more planners were aware of the services to oversee chapters, divisions, etc. they would understand WHY dues are high. National APA is NOT just about you, you, you.

    .
    What I get from the comments on this thread is "what do these things do to help ME?". That is: that's a lot of money to spend on making sure chapters are set up to do...um...what?

    That is: where's the value to the person paying the cash? Planning mag? Please.

    And I'll also add that although I have a buddy in the recent JAPA special climate change issue, my abstract submission for that issue was responded to with "what does this have to do with climate change??" This is the only time I have ever encountered that attitude, and the weak brew in that special edition made me lose a lot of the remaining little respect for JAPA (but you have to get it for the one decent paper a quarter).

    In short: where's the value? Standard phrases like 'be a part of the solution' have been mouthed for years. What has changed?

    [/grumpy bear]

  4. #29
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Each division has positions within it - I am a vice chair for conferences and programs - I do have a committee that works with me on things that I can delegate to - perhaps this is one way to get into the scheme of it all.

    Chapters are more difficult to get moving if they are not moving on their own - typically though they will have an annual conference so perhaps getting involved with that conference can help establish relationships so you can then infuse energy into a stagnant chapters. For me, it's easier to be on a division than a chapter because I am so remotely located form the rest of my chapter that I can't get to their Board meetings without an overnight stay. Divisions' meetings are mostly run by teleconference so it's easier for me to do that.

    also, APA is an advocate in Washington on planning issues - they sit at the table on transportation legislation and funding as well as HUD related issues - most of us trench planners don't have time and funds for such advocacy - look at their operations budget to see where it goes -

  5. #30
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian View post
    Each division has positions within it-
    so if I'm not having any joy establishing contact with my chapter's divisional committees, should I just write my national division head and volunteer (ENRE)? How do I find out who that is or how to get in touch?.. the APA website only provides a link to "join" and mentions a fellowship program.. but I am already a member and have been for several years. Despite being a dues-paying member and showing up that way under My APA, I get this message when I try to access any other pages on the division website ("Although you are logged in to My APA, you currently do not have access to this restricted content"), so I can't even see the directory for the group.

    If my chapter website is any indication, there's no evidence of a conference since 2007 and the last newsletter was in July of last year.. and seems to be irregular before that. they do do nominations and have elections, but since I work nationally and internationally, not locally, I don't know any of them personally... nor can I tell what it is they work on. I'm sure there is stuff going on - or at least I assume so - but if it is it's not being very well communicated. The local YPG group seems to be at least occasionally active, but I've also kind of aged out of it, admittedly.

    Once every two or three months,I spend a few minutes trying to make contact with APA to try to get involved, but, frankly, it's getting frustrating. I don't think I've talked to a real person so far.. or, for that matter, I haven't even found email addresses from which people actually respond. The only correspondence I get from APA is Planning magazine, Interact, and bills.
    Last edited by Cismontane; 07 Jan 2011 at 11:23 AM.

  6. #31
    Cyburbian
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    In short: where's the value? Standard phrases like 'be a part of the solution' have been mouthed for years. What has changed?

    Again, it's a problem of miscommunication on National APA's part (and often many chapters). So, how are your chapter dues paying you?

    1. Chapter conference (usually half of my chapter budget). Many, if not all, of the following needs to be paid up front months in advance..

    How many conference rooms will you need? Will they be stocked with ice water, iced tea, softdrinks, or an assortment of snacks? These very by cost.
    Will you have a luncheon, and if so, how many meals should be prepared?
    Will you be bringing your own laptops, projectors, and screens?
    Will you need room for a trade show/expo?
    If the conference is more than one day, will you need to reserve half a hotel's worth of rooms (to ensure planners don't have to stay somewhere else and travel).
    If you have a mobile workshop, who is paying for the transportation?
    If you have a golf outing, how many people will be attending at which course and for how long?
    Will you have a keynote speaker, and if they are flying from out of town, will you be paying for his/her airfare, hotel accomodations, etc?
    Will you be presenting awards? Will they be on cardstock? Do you want heavier plaques?
    Are you having any evening receptions? Will you have live music? Will there be appetizers? WIll you have a cash bar?
    How many pages are the conference programs? How many will need to be printed? Will it be in color? The costs add up quickly.
    Will you have name tags? Will they be stickers? Typed? Will you need lanyards?
    Will you provide hard copies of powerpoint slides at the conference? When you have to print out several hundred the costs go up.
    Are you going to have the name of the session on a placard on an easel in front of the door or are you going to scribble some chicken scratch on a scrap of paper and tape it on the door?

    I've done event planning for other conferences, and I think many of us forget the little details are never free. If you want a professional-looking conference it comes at a cost. I'm not talking ice sculptures or exotic meals, but just a standard conference. Many chapter members actually register their conference through the national APA website. The money goes through APA and is then reimbursed to the chapter. I'm not sure when since I'm not the chapter treasurer.

    2. CMs. Many of them are free for you or with a fee, but they are FAR more expensive to register. We purchase a special package that allows for unlimited CMs each year. Many chapters opt in to an audio/web conference series, which also cost money. Each CM credit requires an hour of work, if not more. These easily add up when I am registering a state conference.

    3. Sponsorships and scholarships. Our chapter sponsors a lecture series at one of the state planning schools. These usually include a respected expert in a planning specialization. I register the CM credits for these lectures (in addition to the conference).

    4. Mini-conferences/symposiums. Usually 6 months after the fall conference. These will vary from a conference to a mobile workshop, etc. The chapter tries to break even on the cost.

    5. I write my chapter's AICP workshop and study material (this is NOT required). I lead two different workshops each year (for each exam cycle). Many of the same logistics from #1 are addressed (including packaged study material and CDs), advertising in other states, etc). I work very hard at ensuring the costs are kept down. Revenue generated goes back into the professional development budget. Other chapters choose to pay for an AICP exam consultant.

    6. There are a few other items that we pay for, but we do not need to disclose them to the chapter.

    APA National recommends that APA chapters keep reserve funds (at least one year). Although APA chapters often act as a separate groups from National APA, we are not legally separate from National APA. Theoretically, APA could take all of the chapter revenue and not reimburse us at all, and there is nothing we could do about it.

    The following are PDO services I provide that are non expenditures:
    1. Informal ethics advice, as authorized in the AICP Code of Ethics.
    2. Plan Commissioners Advisory Service work
    3. Serving as an unofficial Planning Accrediation Board (PAB) advisor to the accedited planning programs in my state.
    4. Auditing the AICP exam. I might do this in the spring, I haven't decided yet.
    5. Preparing presentations to students on career planning. I am doing two in the next month on the other site of the state. This is my own personal goal separate from my official responsibilities.
    6. My own personal goals: providing professional development services to all members (not just AICP planners). These include a mentorship program, resume/portfolio reserve service, and possibly a mock-interview session at the fall conference.
    7. Most importantly my time!!! I logged roughly 250 hours of my free time last year alone (maybe more) . I also have to run my own professional development committee of volunteers, crafting agendas and setting deadlines.

    And then, of course, I attend the conference and log my own CM credits like everyone else.

    Hopefully that clears things up

    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post
    Once every two or three months,I spend a few minutes trying to make contact with APA to try to get involved, but, frankly, it's getting frustrating. I don't think I've talked to a real person so far.. or, for that matter, I haven't even found email addresses from which people actually respond.
    As luckless said, chapters are NOT the same. My chapter is one of the most active in the region and we don't have a huge population. I first got involved with APA in the last state I was in. The chapter was looking for volunteers for the public relations committee, and I signed up. It helped that I knew many of the committee members from several years of conferences, workshops, seminars, etc. I served on that committee for roughly two years. I moved here and my chapter had a PDO vacancy to fill a remaining term. Three other planners applied but none of them wanted to work after that (the PDO position is one of the most grueling jobs in a chapter). I was appointed by the board and was elected to a two-year term in my own right
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  7. #32
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post
    Once every two or three months,I spend a few minutes trying to make contact with APA to try to get involved, but, frankly, it's getting frustrating. I don't think I've talked to a real person so far.. or, for that matter, I haven't even found email addresses from which people actually respond. The only correspondence I get from APA is Planning magazine, Interact, and bills.
    Some chapters in this state aren't as active or responsive as others. Case in point, i tried to get involved with the Central Section. My former manager was involved and i helped out a little but when he left, so did most contact with the Central Section (it is a dead section imo).

    The Central Coast section is very active. During this past summer i decided i wanted to help out more with my profession. I got in contact with the head of this year's state conference committee. Now i chair a committee for this year's state conference and planning it is quite ummm interesting. You might need to check in with someone from the state to get connected with people from your section (or attend a mixer if they have them).
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  8. #33
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    We have a fairly active 3 state chapter, and I was on the exec. committee for almost a decade in various positions (webmaster, state director, etc.).

    I kind of got drafted into my initial involvement in the late 90's...was at the National Conference in Boston, got into a conversation at the reception with a former colleague and the chapter president, who basically said the webmaster job was mine if I wanted it.

    Involvement can be time consuming...and I found it to be easier to handle before I was married with kids. Been out of the active involvement with the chapter for about 4 years now. I do think I will get re-engaged when the kids get a bit older. Great experience, and worth the time just in the networking opportunities and relationships with other professionals I've built.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  9. #34
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    my employer will not pay (against state law), so I have dropped my membership since moving to this state. I wish this was not the case... but we all gotta trim.
    "Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan." - Winston Churchill

  10. #35
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    There are likely several reasons we have this problem. Twenty years ago, or even ten, it was much more common for employers to pay membership dues. APA staff and many of the elected board members, who tend to be more experience and in higher positions where that perk is still common, may not realize the extent to which the policy has changed. On the expenditure side, APA leadership probably feels that it needs to deliver the glitz of a national organization - expensive conferences, glossy printed materials, mailings, lobbyists, etc., most of which is not important to members.
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  11. #36
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Cismontane
    by division I meant divisions like Small Town and Rural, Economic, Law, etc. - for me that was easier to get involved in than anything else

    PM me if you want more specific conversation

  12. #37
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian View post
    Cismontane
    by division I meant divisions like Small Town and Rural, Economic, Law, etc. - for me that was easier to get involved in than anything else
    Thanks. yes, I was looking for a contact for ENRE (Environmental, Natural Resources, Energy). I can't seem to access the APA's official contact info because of the permissions issue I described on the APA website (somehow I'm not able to look at the division's webpage despite the fact I am a dues paying member of the division and have been for years). Their website design is kind of a catch-22. I just haven't had time to try to figure out who I need to contact at the division to volunteer with them. I never get any correspondence from the division.. so basically I've been throwing away $25 a year.

    I guess my issue is that so far I really only liaise with APA through the national website, as my chapter doesn't consistently maintain their's. I have a limited conference budget, so I tend to spend it on groups that I have active relationships with (such as USGBC and several academic fora), so I haven't been to any APA conferences, precisely because I haven't been able to figure out how to get actively involved. Again, a catch 22. If I wanted to go, and meet peope TO get involved, I need to be able to justify the expense (I'm presenting a paper there, leading a panel, meeting a client, etc). Since I can't do that, since I'm not involved, I can't get to the conferences.

  13. #38
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    next year, the APA national conference is in Los Angeles - you should form a group of speakers to put in a topic for a session or a mobile workshop or a facilitated discussion on something - they put the word out for submitting for sessions in July for the following year and there is preference to local topics as the host of the conference

    also if your chapter is part of LA, then I am not feeling too good about that host committee for 2012! Planning a national conference is uber-work! Though pulling off a conference in the end is magic...

  14. #39
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by otterpop View post
    ......Like a lot of planners, I wouldn't pay APA dues if my job didn't pay for it.....
    That's my position. Or my AICP dues.
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  15. #40
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian View post
    also if your chapter is part of LA, then I am not feeling too good about that host committee for 2012! Planning a national conference is uber-work! Though pulling off a conference in the end is magic...
    No.. it's not LA.

  16. #41
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    There are likely several reasons we have this problem. ... APA staff and many of the elected board members, ... may not realize the extent to which the policy has changed. On the expenditure side, APA leadership probably feels that it needs to deliver the glitz of a national organization - expensive conferences, glossy printed materials, mailings, lobbyists, etc., most of which is not important to members.
    Yes. I'm positive that for years people have been complaining about the paucity of usable learning material and the price associated with it. When I let my membership lapse I received maybe one e-mail asking why, and some short questionnaire asking questions. I simply said the materials were too expensive and there is scant value in the membership.

    And the national conference system is laughable. Way too expensive. Simply a bad model and extensive re-working is in order. Will it come? I doubt it.

  17. #42
    The bottom line is no one, not even the President of APA / Leader of AICP himself can justify these dues if a member's company is not paying them for them.
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  18. #43
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    I was going to post that if my employer didn't pay my APA or AICP dues, I'd drop both. However, I have spoken a state conferences before and edited chapter newsletters. So, I've been in involved. I was also in involved the STaR reorganization
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  19. #44
    Cyburbian Dharmster's avatar
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    Just reupped

    Renewing my APA, AICP, JAPA, and one division membership costs me upwards of $600 all of which comes out my pocket! I really think APA's due structure is unfair to those of us who live in high costs of living areas. Yes, I make a lot of money relative to say most planners, but I also live in a place where a one bedroom condo within talking distance of a Metro station can easly cost $400k. In Cincinnati, one could buy a huge McMansion for 400k. I know, those of us in high cost of living areas get screwed by everything else which is not indexed to cost of living (e.g. income taxes) but to have APA use the same flawed national dues system doesn't seem fair.

  20. #45
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    Quote Originally posted by Dharmster View post
    In Cincinnati...
    Watch where you go with that

    AICP dues are based on standards, not individuals. Since it is based on income, it does take into account your COL. This is how many organizations do it. I don't love it, but you will make more in Virginia than you would in Ohio, so you pay more. It should be a percentage of income that is capped at $X. But why should we get all logical and what not.
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  21. #46
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dharmster View post
    Renewing my APA, AICP, JAPA, and one division membership costs me upwards of $600 all of which comes out my pocket! I really think APA's due structure is unfair to those of us who live in high costs of living areas. Yes, I make a lot of money relative to say most planners, but I also live in a place where a one bedroom condo within talking distance of a Metro station can easly cost $400k. In Cincinnati, one could buy a huge McMansion for 400k. I know, those of us in high cost of living areas get screwed by everything else which is not indexed to cost of living (e.g. income taxes) but to have APA use the same flawed national dues system doesn't seem fair.
    APA dues are just as hard on a rural planner bringing down $30,000 per year. Or on a "low cost" urban area planner making slightly more. We're all in the same boat. APA dues have gotten to be too much. It is becoming ever less common for employers to pick up the tab for memberships, much less conferences. As we have all noted, there also does not seem to be a commensurate pay-off for membership. The real answer is not to think that any one group of planners has it harder than another, but to get the elected board members to do something about these costs. Sorry, I don't mean to sound like a Tea Party member.
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  22. #47
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    Hmmm.....

    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    APA dues are just as hard on a rural planner bringing down $30,000 per year. Or on a "low cost" urban area planner making slightly more. We're all in the same boat. APA dues have gotten to be too much. It is becoming ever less common for employers to pick up the tab for memberships, much less conferences. As we have all noted, there also does not seem to be a commensurate pay-off for membership. The real answer is not to think that any one group of planners has it harder than another, but to get the elected board members to do something about these costs. Sorry, I don't mean to sound like a Tea Party member.
    Remind me....do you still pay dues to APA/AICP? Just asking.....because if you are paying for ULI and CEcD along with APA/AICP, that bill must come close to what RJ spends on Back Waxing each year

    Yet the national conference still pulls in something like 7,000planners??? Does anyone have the real (paid) attendance numbers for the last 5 years, that would be interesting to see.
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  23. #48
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by The One View post
    Remind me....do you still pay dues to APA/AICP? Just asking.....because if you are paying for ULI and CEcD along with APA/AICP, that bill must come close to what RJ spends on Back Waxing each year

    Yet the national conference still pulls in something like 7,000planners??? Does anyone have the real (paid) attendance numbers for the last 5 years, that would be interesting to see.
    I pay dues for APA/AICP, IEDC, and three state organizations. It is nearly as much as a mortgage payment, enough for us to take a week-long vacation, or to completely finish landscaping the yard. Instead, I will pay it again next year, and the year after, and the year after...
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  24. #49
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    Yes, but a planner making $30k is highly unlikely to belong to APA and even less liikely to be AICP unless their employer picks up the bill. A decade ago, I was making not that much more than $30K and still living in the DC area. I got APA and AICP because I was in consulting and my dues were paid. I dropped it a year after I had to start picking it up myself. When you are starting out life on your home, things like getting a car and furniture tend to have a higher priority.

    Now, if a planner making $30K does belong to APA it is tough, but they get all the same benefits I do. It's just tough living in a very high cost of living area with only one income (my wife is in school) and being penalized by tax code and then APA. What is considered a lot of money in many areas is not in a high cost of living area like DC.

    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    APA dues are just as hard on a rural planner bringing down $30,000 per year.

  25. #50
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    I pay dues for APA/AICP, IEDC, and three state organizations. It is nearly as much as a mortgage payment, enough for us to take a week-long vacation, or to completely finish landscaping the yard. Instead, I will pay it again next year, and the year after, and the year after...
    "Why do you keep hitting yourself in the head with that hammer?"

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