The annual report for 2010 was available at the church yesterday, only one week before the annual meeting. Over the next few days, I plan to comment on the report. My commentary will likely be mostly in the form of questions. Today’s post is the first installment.
On a slightly positive note, Lou indicated during the announcements yesterday that the 10:30 service next Sunday will be moved to 10:45, allowing 15 minutes more time for the annual meeting. There may still be too little time to resolve all the questions that might be raised—see “Thoughts on the Annual Meeting”—but the announcement was nonetheless welcome.
Alas, I am not a financial person, so the most interesting parts of the annual report, the treasurer’s report and the associated financial reports, are the hardest part for me to make sense of. Nonetheless, the finances of the parish are of utmost importance, so, even if I cannot provide insightful analysis, perhaps I can ask some useful questions.
When I first looked at the financial information, I couldn’t find any numbers representing salaries. Eventually, I realized that salaries, insurance, pension payments, etc., are all lumped together as “Total Personnel Commission.” In other words, the largest item in the budget, $495,891.41, is a black box. Not only are individual salaries not listed—the parish had major fights over listing salaries a few years ago, but parishioners are given no way to determine if, for example, insurance costs have been rising. It is outrageous that 70% of the parish budget is hidden from parishioners, particularly when we are playing games with salary reductions and a “Salary Restoration Fund.” (See “Some Stewardship Thoughts” and “Another Thought on the Salary Restoration Fund.”
My biggest concern with the annual report, however, is the lack of a 2011 budget. Last year, the report did not contain a budget, although I was able to obtain a “2010 Budget Draft” around the time of the annual meeting. If parishioners are prevented from seeing most of the budget figures, are not presented with a budget for the coming year, and get to choose four people to fill four Vestry positions, what is the point of even holding a parish meeting? Perhaps the meeting should be postponed until we see complete budget figures for 2010 and a proposed budget for 2011.
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