Further Explanation on Smoke Signals Change

There seems to be some confusion about the recently implemented change to Smoke Signals frequency and the reasons behind the change. Let us try to further clarify.

As with virtually every car club in America, and European clubs as well, POCI’s membership numbers are slowly dwindling. There are several reasons, the chief being that our membership is aging so some of us are passing away, while others are getting out of the old car hobby because of health or financial reasons, or downsizing and don’t have room for the old Pontiacs anymore. You can probably think of other reasons. In any case, we lost 8.3% of our membership in 2023. So far in 2024, the loss percentage is on track to be higher.

It doesn’t take a math whiz to know that as a result of reduced membership numbers, the dues income is also substantially lower. However, the club’s expenses are not lower. This past year we were forced to redesign and launch a newly updated website, which was also a substantial expense, though should not need to be repeated for many years. The club office personnel contract, insurance costs, and the Smoke Signals editor’s contract are all fixed costs that have to be paid, whether membership numbers fluctuate or not. There are only two viable solutions to the problem: either raise dues substantially or reduce costs.

Having been a member of POCI for over 51 years, I have lived through every POCI dues increase the club has ever instituted. Every single time, there is some percentage of the members who get mad and quit. If I recall, the number has been between 5%-10% at each increase. Some come back, and some don’t. Had the Board of Directors chosen to institute a dues increase, it would have been in the $20-$25 per year range at a minimum. And it would have taken a year to realize the full effect of the increased income.

The other alternative was to reduce costs, and the publishing and mailing of Smoke Signals is our highest cost item by a long shot. It costs approximately $21,000 per issue just to print and mail Smoke Signals. That is each issue, and about $5000 of that is mailing cost. The quickest and seemingly least painful way to cut costs was to not print some number of issues of Smoke Signals. The Board of Directors settled on three as that would net the savings we needed for this year and have the least impact on the membership. That decision will save the club about $63,000 in 2024.

The reasoning behind doing three digital-only issues in 2024 (February, June, and October) was this: Editor Tim Dye’s current contract is for twelve issues per year, so in order for the club’s members to get their money’s worth from Tim, but to still cut costs, the only viable solution was to have Tim produce twelve, make three of them digital and the other nine printed.

Please note that this is temporary. For 2025 and the foreseeable future, we plan to publish nine issues per year and they will be available in both printed and digital versions, depending on which type of membership you have. Tim Dye’s contract expires this year and will be up for bid. Therefore, the next contract (whether Tim or someone else) will be for nine issues per year.

Hopefully, this explains some of the thinking behind the change. The Executive Committee talked it over for a long time, then presented it to your full Board of Directors. This was deemed the best route to take. – Alan Mayes, POCI Treasurer

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