Saturday, January 29, 2011

Annual Report Part 8

This is my last report before tomorrow’s annual meeting, not because I have run out of observations, but because I have run out of time. Although it might be helpful to summarize what I have said already, I will instead try to cover new ground and point out what I see as big, rather than trivial, problems.

First, let me say something about the form of our financial reporting to the parish. We take 16 pages to explain our financial position and use no notes to explain that which is not obvious. (In particular, we do not cross-reference related figures.) It is difficult not to believe that the purpose here is to obscure, rather than to elucidate. Moreover, more than 60% of our expenditures are unexplained (i.e., in “Total Personnel Commission”). It is also difficult not to believe that we have so many activities “off-budget,” i.e., not in the operating fund, in order to avoid their incomes being counted in the calculation of our diocesan assessment. (I have not seen how St. Paul’s’ assessment is calculated, so I may be completely wrong here.) I am concerned that the Salary Restoration Fund will effectively shield part of salaries from affecting our diocesan assessment, though I doubt that it was created for the purpose.

Christ Church, Indiana, recently had its annual meeting, and I happened to get hold of its annual report. The proposed 2011 budget is listed in great detail on pages 16 and 17. Salaries and fringe benefits are clearly shown. Pages 19 and 20 provide a detailed balance sheet, including account numbers analogous to those used by our own parish. Special funds are listed in the same balance sheet along with “operating” funds under the heading of “Equity Funds.” (Such funds include that for ECW, for example.) Pages 21 and 22 show a detailed profit & loss statement. These six pages of financial information inspire great confidence in both the financial health and financial transparency of Christ Church. (Parishioners are informed that there is $0.24 in the carpet fund, for example.) Christ Church had a net income of more than $2,000 last year, which is a much better result than we achieved.

Finally, I should say a few things about the so-called budget for 2011 that will be presented in tomorrow’s meeting. The budget contains 34 lines. The 2010 accounting of the St. Paul’s operating fund alone contains 100 lines. How can this possibly give an adequate view of intended 2011 revenues and expenditures? More to the point, only the operating fund is represented in the budget presentation. What will Refuge cost? How much money do we expect to spend on building repairs and improvements? What will ECW take in and spend? Who knows?

I shutter to think what explanation will be attached to the pie chart alleged to represent expenditures. (For convenience, I reproduce the pie chart and the data on which it is based below. These same figures were presented in “Annual Report Part 4.”)

2011 Budget pie chart

Chart data
It is interesting to compare this chart with the budget numbers, which show no money for outreach—our diocesan assessment is not outreach, and serving on diocesan boards is not outreach—and no money devoted to children and youth, among other things. The pie chart, I fear, is the product of smoke and mirrors.

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