Financial Update – FY 23

Link to Prism of Possibilities – a proposal to help the congregation think about pledging from Rev Rachael

This year, we are attempting to begin our annual budget conversation earlier than in the past in order to engage as many members of the congregation as possible.

The tentative outline of important dates for the Fiscal Year 2024 (please note: Fiscal Year 2024 – runs from July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2024 – and hereafter shortened to FY24) budget process are as follows:

  1. March 12 – Conversational conversation on UUSA finances
  2. April 1 – FY2024 pledge forms due (pls return forms to office or pledge online)
  3. April 20 – 1st board meeting on the budget
  4. April 27 – Special board meeting on the budget (if needed)
  5. April 30 – Present draft budget to congregation (sent via email)
  6. May 7 – Congregational conversation on the proposed budget
  7. May 10 – Zoom meeting on the proposed budget at 7:00 pm
  8. May 18 – Final board meeting on the budget
  9. May 21 & 28 – Warrant is read to the congregation
  10. June 4 – Annual congregational meeting to vote on the budget

As we emerge from the worst of the pandemic, it may be time to take a fresh look at our traditions, our hopes and our dreams, tempered with the reality of our finances. It may help to think about our current situation as a moment in time and recognize that if we make good choices we will continue to be a vital and vibrant part of our larger community.

This document is an introduction to a conversation that has been ongoing among members of the Board of Trustees and the Finance Committee. It is time to open this conversation to us all.

Let’s begin with a look at the FY23 budget (the current year). The following table includes our original budget estimate, approved by the congregation last June, with a column added for adjustments (in red) covered by the very successful Winter Appeal (in green). Our FY 23 revenue will cover expenses thanks to the Winter Appeal. Further explanations are below the table.

  1. PLEDGE INCOME: The pledge income is on track. The number of pledges were down in FY23 but the amount per pledge increased.
  2. CONTRIBUTIONS (Plate & Gifts): Plate contributions were lower than expected, perhaps due to low donations from participants on zoom. The estimate was adjusted based on actual weekly donations.
  3. DEDICATED OFFERING: This is included as income but 100% of it goes to other organizations so it is also included as an expense below.
  4. RENTAL INCOME: The original rental income estimate was based on pre-pandemic experience and was overly ambitious. The estimate was adjusted to a more reasonable number.
  5. FUNDRAISING: The fundraising estimate has been adjusted based on more realistic expectations. 5b. The very successful winter appeal has made up for the difference between planned and adjusted income in the Plate, Rent, and Fundraising categories.
  6. ENDOWMENT INCOME: Endowment income is interest-only income and is correct.
  7. OTHER INCOME: Other income is from SRECs (solar-related)

The FY 23 expense estimate is presented below with explanations.  

8. MUSIC PROGRAM: This is mostly the salary (94%) of the Music Director, and some professional expenses, and organ/piano maintenance.

9. RELIGIOUS EDUCATION: This is mostly salary (96%) of the DRE, and Youth and Young Adult Coordinator, Preschool Teacher and Preschool Helper, in addition to a very small amount of supplies.

10. OFFICE OPERATIONS: This includes salary for the Congregational Administrator, bookkeeper expense, office supplies and equipment.

11. MEETINGHOUSE AND GROUNDS: This includes utilities, maintenance and repairs, housekeeping and landscaping

12. HOUSEKEEPING AND MAINTENANCE: This is mostly the salary (84%) for the Sexton and supplies.

13. DONATIONS AND DUES: This is for the UUA. The recommended dues for our congregation was $13,538. We contributed less this year.

14. FINANCIAL EXPENSES: This is for liability insurance.

15. PROGRAM EXPENSES: The largest expense (70%) is for the Dedicated Offering.  We have eliminated many of our program expenses. 

16. MINISTERS COMPENSATION: This includes salary and some professional expenses.

17. PAYROLL EXPENSES: This includes FICA, employee insurance, workers compensation etc.

FY 23 Summary: Over the years we have cut our expenses to “bare bones” in order to balance our budgets including in FY23. Thanks to the generosity of members who contributed to the Winter Appeal, we are on the road to balancing our FY23 books. This achievement, despite the challenges described above, will put us in a strong position to not tap our cash reserves to meet operating expenses. In addition, a few members have made donations to cover the initial loan payments which began in full in March on our loan with Florence Bank for our new meeting house siding. With it looking like our revenues sufficient to cover our FY 23 operating costs, we feel humbled by and grateful for the continued generosity and commitment our members.

Looking forward, however, we hold concerns about the long-term financial health of our congregation.  For many years, our budgets have been funded with a heavy reliance on a small number of committed donors. For FY 23 almost 50% of our budget was funded by 16 of the 92 pledging units (individuals and families making a pledge) in our congregation. Our concerns rest on the apprehension that relying on a small number of very generous donors leaves the UUSA vulnerable should any of these donors be no longer able to sustain their level of financial commitment to the UUSA in FY 24 or beyond.   

Additionally, while we are currently blessed with an extraordinary minister and staff,  our inability to provide fair compensation may significantly compromise our ability to thrive as a congregation.  Unfortunately, due to budgetary constraints, we were unable to support the full UUA recommended salary COLA increase for our staff in FY23. We are concerned that a continued inability to provide our staff with recommended fair compensation salary adjustments will leave our staff and the UUSA in a difficult long term position. Furthermore, the UUA has recently revised its Fair Compensation guidelines which leaves us further out of step with UUA recommendations. Our FY24 budget process has taken these guidelines into consideration which we address below.

The financial projection for FY 24 has been moved to a new page:

Link to Prism of Possibilities – a proposal to help the congregation think about pledging from Rev Rachael