Metroplan members learned Wednesday that a possible dues increase had become a certainty.

At the Sept. 29 meeting, Metroplan executive director Jim McKenzie warned that a dues increase is likely for 2013, he reminded board members that there has not been a dues increase since 2002.

"The first draft had a $203,000 deficit," McKenzie said. There have been budgeted deficits in the past, but it was possible to manage spending to avoid actual deficit spending, he said.

"But this is of such a scale that … unless we do something to address it we will be in a deficit spending situation," McKenzie said.

If dues are raised 7 cents per person, it would be to the level of being manageable again, McKenzie said.

The current dues rate is 85 cents per person, based on the last decennial census population. The new rate would be 92 cents, McKenzie said.

"We’ve not raised the dues rate since 2002. We are very reluctant to propose that unless absolutely necessary," he said.

"But after a decade of gradually increasing costs and decreasing support … we have no choice," he said.

The draft budget has been presented to the Executive Committee, but the board of directors does not have to act on it until the December meeting, McKenzie said.

Lonoke County’s 2012 dues were $18,929, 2013 would be $20,487; Austin in 2012 was $1,732, 2013 is $1,875; Cabot was $20,210, would be $21,874; Jacksonville was $24,109, to $26,095; Ward, $3,457 to $3,742; Lonoke (city) would be $3,608 to $3,905

The agenda notes state it would be the hope to retain that stable dues rate for the remainder of the decade.

McKenzie said the U.S. Department of Transportation has released preliminary guidance on MAP-21, but funding allocations under that program will not be released until Dec. 1. The Metroplan staff is to work with the Technical Coordinating Committee to develop competitive grant guidelines so that as soon as the funding allocation is released the applications can be ready.

"So if you have projects needing funding, talk to us about them so we can get them as ready to go as they can be," McKenzie said.

The November board meeting will be Nov. 28, and the December meeting will be Dec. 19. The Metroplan Annual Meeting is in December, when officers for the coming year are elected and a budget is adopted, McKenzie said.