1st Quarter 2018 Message

April 1, 2018
Dear Members:
With the close of 2017, a year which will go down in history as a highly unusual sustained bull market, a wide range of economists and research firms all predict that trend to continue in 2018. In fact, through the 1st quarter of 2018, corporate earnings continue to be strong, unemployment remains low with upwards of 2 million new jobs added last year, and inflation is relatively muted.
This positive forecast has prompted the US Federal Reserve Committee to predict three or four 25 basis point rate increases in the Prime Rate for 2018. The prime rate is the rate at which individual banks lend to their most creditworthy customers and is among the most widely used benchmarks in setting home equity lines of credit and credit card rates.  In fact, Utilities Credit Union bases the interest rates of both the Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) and Kwik Cash loan rates on the prime rate.  Because of an increase by the Federal Reserve Committee, your Board of Directors announced a 0.25% increase to the annual percentage rate for those products.
On a positive note, with the economy humming along and these interest rate increases, financial institutions will begin to see increases in income and profit and thus, in theory, will be able to share those profits with their customers. UCU has benefited from increases in its income and at the March Board of Directors meeting, we increased the dividend payable for the first quarter 2018 from what was prospected the previous quarter.  We also increased the rates we prospect to pay for the 2nd quarter of 2018. Expect to see continued good news on the financial front in the near future.
On the news front, the 85th Annual Membership Meeting was held at Sky Park on Thursday, February 22nd, 2018. At the meeting, I provided a high level summary of the year in review, President/Treasurer Dave Amans provided a more detailed look at the financial statements and Chairwoman Carol Lueke gave the Credit Committee report. There were four Director positions up for re-election this year. Incumbents Paul Seipel and Lori Drilling were on the ballot as were Karl Hoesly and Kallie Robb running for the seats of Bob Stabe and Jesse Anderson who were not running for re-election.  All were elected by a unanimous vote from the members.  The Board thanked Bob and Jesse for their valued service over the past several years. Members enjoyed pizza and other refreshments while door prizes were drawn. The Board of Directors and Staff thank all of the members who were able to join us. Immediately after the Annual Meeting, the new Board met to hold officer elections and complete other related business. I was re-elected as Chairman, Lori Drilling as Vice Chairwoman, Becky McIlhargey re-elected as Secretary and Dave Amans re-elected as President/Treasurer.
Your Board of Directors will hold its annual planning session on the morning of Saturday, April 7th.  We’ll discuss how to better serve the membership and how to bring new products and services to you. Sure to be a major topic of discussion will be our credit card program which the Board has determined to be too risky given this high-tech environment of fraud and theft.  We are in negotiations with our current provider to assume the program and offer enhancements to the program going forward.  We’ll keep you informed as those talks continue.
I hope all enjoy the spring.

John R. Ness,
Chairman, Board of Directors


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