|First, it is with much sadness that I let you
know that this will be our last issue of the Arizona
NARFE News. Our contractor, M. D. & Associates, has
advised me that they will not be renewing our contract.
It appears that the people that they hired to sell ads
for them have not provided a sufficient amount of
ads/money to pay for producing our newspaper.
As I write this, the Arizona Federation has not made a decision on how we will distribute information to our members, chapter members and national members. But likely we will have to rely primarily on our Arizona Federation website, www.narfeaz.com, and using the NES, NARFE Email Service. Trying to prepare a newsletter for over 4,000 members, printing and folding them, and the cost of postage is costly and will require a large amount of time and that is providing that we can find members to do this time-consuming job. The Arizona Federation Board will meet in January 2018 and will be discussing this issue.
If you have an email address and have not provided it to NARFE, I would urge everyone to do so. NARFE does not give out this information nor are the addresses sold. Remember, everything seems to be online today and you certainly do not want to miss an important email alert asking us to contact our representatives regarding a certain bill that will be voted on. If you would prefer, you can create a separate email address for your NARFE emails. That is why I use email@example.com. I have a separate email for family and friends.
I want to thank those that have provided their email addresses. But please keep them up to date. If you change addresses (mailing or email), telephone numbers, etc., remember to update the NARFE website or you can contact me and I can get it changed for you. If you do not have a computer, remember that you can go to the public library and use one there.
Another important change. FEEA (Federal Employee Education & Assistance Fund) is implementing some changes in the NARFE FEEA Scholarship program. The NEB (National Executive Board) discussed this at their October meeting and will discuss it further. If you remember, in the past, there have been 6 NARFE scholarships awarded in each Region. For 2018, there will only be 3 NARFE scholarships in each Region. For 2017 Arizona reviewed the scholarship applications and chose the winners. In 2018 Wyoming will review these applications. Watch for additional information on this.
The Arizona Federation will be holding a Workshop/Training on Wednesday, June 6, 2018. Location: American Legion Post #44, 7145 N 2nd Street, Scottsdale, AZ 85251. We do not have this event finalized as yet but Registration will likely start at 8:30 am, the Workshop start at 9:00 am, and try to be finished by 4:00 pm. The Registration Fee will include a noon meal consisting of baked ziti, spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, salad bar, coffee, tea, and water and Dee Price has said she will provide the dessert. The Registration Fee has not been established yet. The agenda has not been finalized but one item likely to be discussed would be on the National candidates and resolutions that you/we will be voting on. The ballots will be in the June 2018 issue of the NARFE magazine and you will have until the end of June to vote. Come and join us in the discussion of the pros and cons. The NARFE magazine and website will only give you one side of the issue. Let’s talk about the candidates and learn more about each one and discuss the proposed resolutions/amendments. Every Arizona NARFE member is invited – chapter members and national members. Mark your calendars now!
There was some discussion on future Region VII Conferences and at the present time another conference is not planned.
The NEB has already proposed 4 Bylaw amendments and the Arizona Federation has submitted 3 Bylaw Amendments. I am sure that other chapters, federations, and members have already or will submit many more resolutions to vote on. These will be posted on the NARFE website but as of this writing I cannot find any of them. Watch the NARFE website for current information.
The following week the NEB had a Go To Meeting session and this revised amendment was not on the agenda but it was brought up and it was decided to put a vote on this revised amendment off until after the Federation President’s Meeting.
Also, information has now started coming out on the FEDcon18 Premier NARFE Conference in Jacksonville, FL from August 26 – 28, 2018, at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront. Registration starts on February 1, 2018. If you are planning to attend, the earlier you register the cheaper it will cost you. Early Bird – Feb 1 to Mar 31 $150 for NARFE members; Regular – Apr 1 to Aug 25 - $175; and On-site - $200. Non-member registration is more. To learn more, go to the NARFE website and click on the FEDcon18 box.
This two-and-a-half-day conference features five inspirational keynote speakers and offers more than 25 breakout sessions specifically focused on federal benefits, advocacy issues, chapter and leadership development and technology. There will be numerous opportunities for federation and chapter leaders to meet and share best practices.
In early September, we received the list of 105 health fairs to be held by federal agencies in Arizona. By the time that you read this newspaper, all the health fairs will have been held and the Open Season for our Federation Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), which ran from November 13, 2017 to December 11, 2017, will have closed. I hope that you were able to get the information you needed to make a decision on your health plan. But one thing you need to remember, do not DROP your FEHBP plan, SUSPEND it and then you can come back if you need to later. If you DROP it, you can never get it back later. If you are of Medicare age or nearing it, there are some webinars on the NARFE website with great information to help you. Remember, if you cannot listen to a webinar on the day and time it is broadcast, it is then put on the NARFE website 24 hours later and it can be accessed any time that you like at your convenience.
A new Strategic Plan dated October 2017 is now up on the NARFE website. It is a little difficult to find. I typed in Strategic Plan and then found it under Overview of NARFE Strategic Planning Process. It is 19 pages long and will not be published in hard copy form. To review it, you will need to go to the NARFE website as I have indicated. The 2018 operation of NARFE will be based on this document.
As I write this, the House and Senate have passed the TSP (Thrift Savings Plan) Modernization Act and it is awaiting President Trump’s signature. By the time you are reading this, it should be signed and allow our employees and retirees greater control over their own retirement savings and the ability to plan responsibly for their future. These changes, common in the private sector, were much needed and long overdue.
I want to remind every chapter, whether you had an election or not, that either the President, Secretary, or Membership Chair needs to go online and complete a new F-7, Update to Chapter (your chapter number) Officer Roster. Please review all officer positions and change as needed and be sure to review the “Chapter Dues” and “Meeting Place” sections at the lower left part of the form. This information is used by the Arizona Federation when making visits to your chapter such as the location and time of your meetings. Some of our NARFE snowbird friends and visitors might like to visit your chapter and possibly join but they will not know when your chapter meets if adequate information is not there.
Shortly, it will be Income Tax time. This means that EVERY chapter without exception MUST file an IRS Form 990-N or ePostcard. You cannot file the e-Postcard until after your fiscal year ends (after December 31, 2017). The ePostcard is due by May 15, 2018. This is usually done by the chapter treasurer. Valley West Chapter and Mohave Valley Chapter also will need to file this report showing that the chapter has closed.
As you have likely heard by now, on October 4, 2017, the Valley West Chapter voted to close for lack of leadership. Most of these members were transferred to Sun City West Chapter 1789 and Sunnyslope Chapter 1686, the nearest chapters. Then on October 17, 2017, the Mohave Valley Chapter voted to close for lack of leadership, a treasurer, and those members were transferred to the Havasu Chapter 1413. These members were also notified that they could transfer to another chapter or become a national member. This leaves only 13 chapters in Arizona and the Federation board will be discussing the possible redistricting at our January board meeting.
As your Local Chapters have held their annual meetings and the election of officers, I trust that EVERY MEMBER stepped up and offered your help to your chapter. EVERYONE needs to do their part. Chapters cannot function without officers and way too many chapters nationwide are closing because other members are not doing their part. So PLEASE look deep into your heart and volunteer to help your chapter. EVERY chapter must have a president, secretary, and treasurer or a secretary/treasurer otherwise the chapter will have to close. Chapters are losing too many members to national members without chapters closing. Do you want to have to go online to get all your NARFE information? Or, would you rather attend a chapter meeting and talk about these things?
By using NARFE Perks, we also help NARFE. So next time you need something, take a look in your magazine and see if there is something there that would benefit you.
The COLA for social security and federal retirees in 2018 will be 2%. As I write this article we have not heard what the Medicare Part B premiums will be for 2018 and/or how the new premiums will affect any of us. By the time that you read this article, we will know what these 2018 premiums will be.
Dates to Remember & Mark Your Calendars:
June 6, 2018– 2018 Biennial Workshop – American Legion Post #44, Scottsdale, AZ – Information will be available in early February – Discussion of the Resolutions and Candidates to be voted on and Training
August 26 – 30, 2018 - 2018 NARFE Premiere National Conference in Jacksonville, Florida
Hopefully you had a great Thanksgiving and didn’t eat too much and I wish everyone a Happy Holiday Season and a healthy New Year is 2018.
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UPDATED: February, 2018