Frequently Asked Questions
How does FTCSAA function?
Our association is governed by a set of bylaws and made up entirely of volunteers. We are all staff attorneys employed in Florida. Our board is comprised of 11 members, and our executive board has 5 positions: president, president-elect, treasurer, secretary, and immediate-past president. We also have 7 committees (Budget, Bylaws, Communications, Conference Education, Conference Planning, Membership, and Nominating) that are each chaired by a board member. However, any and all members are welcome to join a committee.
How does funding the conference work?
As many of you know, in the past, FTCSAA had to apply for grant funding annually. Beginning in 2019, thanks to the enormous efforts of Judge Angela Cowden and staff attorney and former two-time FTCSAA president Ashley Hardee, we now receive a guaranteed chunk of money to host our conference. The amount, however, is dependent upon state funding.
None of that money comes directly to FTCSAA. Rather, that money is used only to reimburse attendees for travel, lodging, food, and conference registration fee. Therefore, our annual conference is hosted with the very limited funds collected via conference registration fees, vendor table sales, and any other funds we manage to scrape together.
How is the conference location selected?
Given the geographical size of our state, it is obviously impossible to make each year’s conference location convenient to everyone. Additionally, the conference location and venue are selected by the president-elect the year before he or she becomes president. The president-elect is free to scout any location that the State has approved (currently, the State will not reimburse for events held in the Keys, the panhandle, or Tallahassee). Often, the president-elect will choose a location near him or her in case additional visits or coordination with the venue are needed.
The president-elect is also often limited in what venues will work with us because we are limited to state-approved reimbursement rates. Traditionally, our nightly room reimbursement rate, inclusive of taxes and fees, has been $135. Many venues balk at this rate.
Therefore, the president-elect has many parameters to consider when choosing a location and venue.
Why must we pay for breakfast and lunch in the registration fee?
We understand that many people would much rather purchase breakfast and lunch “on their own,” but that does not allow those attendees within 50 miles to get reimbursed for meals. It also does not allow us to use the cost of lunch towards our food and beverage minimum with the venue, as mentioned below. Therefore, to allow all attendees to be reimbursed for the cost of breakfast and lunch, we include these amounts in the registration fee.
Why does there always seem to be limited food at the Thursday night social?
This is a funding issue. Anyone who has planned a wedding or event at a hotel knows that food costs are very expensive. While we always have to spend a certain amount on food and beverage (usually about $4,000) to get the meeting spaces for free, this amount doesn’t cover a lot of food. As an example, most venues charge between $3 and $5 for a single hors d'oeuvre. On top of that, we are charged a service fee, which is currently 25 percent. So, a single slider can cost about $6.25. Nonetheless, the conference planning committee and board work very hard to try and get as much food as we can with our limited funds.
Why don’t we have alcohol at the Thursday night social?
In order to provide alcohol at our Thursday night social, we must hire a bartender to serve that alcohol. Most hotel venues charge about $125 per hour for that bartender. Then, tack on the exorbitant cost of the alcoholic beverages, and we would never be able to fund this.
In the past, we have offered a cash bar at the social. However, that still required the hourly bartender fee and hardly anyone purchased alcohol. Accordingly, the board and conference committees have opted to use our limited funds elsewhere.