Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Annual Report Part 2

How much is the Refuge service really costing? It is difficult to tell what was spent on it in 2010 from the information provided in the annual report. We have been given no clue as to what it—or anything else, for that matter—will cost in 2011.

In this installment of my commentary on the annual report, I want to point out some facts about Refuge and ask questions that aren’t easily answered by studying the annual report.

Here is what we find about Refuge on page 26 of the annual report:

Beginning Cash Balance 1/1/10









Donation from Education Fund



Total Revenues











Supplies, Artwork, Music, Misc.



Total Expenses


Ending Cash Balance 12/31/10


The $24,000 grant was from the diocese. It is doubtful that additional grants will be made unless Refuge becomes a runaway success.The items for $1,000 (donation) and $3,000 (donation from Education Fund) are curious. Here is what I wrote in May—see “Following the Money”: “The vestry has apparently spent $4,000 from the Education Fund on the Refuge/Wilderness project. $1,000 was used to send Kris to Denver to check out The Wilderness. The remaining fee was a consulting fee to Kate Eaton.” Given the expense for “consultant,” it seems likely that this is about right.

There are two questions here. First, how did the $4,000 become $3,000 and $1,000? On page 21, only $3,000 is shown as coming out of the Education Fund to benefit Refuge. Did Kris decide to pay for his own trip? More significantly, how is funding the Refuge service education? The Education Fund seems to have been raided simply because it was there. In fact, I have no idea where this particular fund came from or what its intended purpose is. In checking earlier annual reports, I cannot find an instance of our having spent any money from the fund.

Not everyone will immediately understand the “Clavinova” entry. “Clavinova” is the name Yamaha gives to its sophisticated line of digital pianos. (For further information, see the Wikipedia and Yamaha Web sites.) Apparently, one of Bryan Sable’s first acts after being hired was to demand the purchase of such an instrument for Refuge. Because of the high price of the Clavinova, some imaginative financing was cooked up to cushion the blow. Only $1,880 of the cost was charged to Refuge. Friends of Music contributed another $1000. (See page 27.) Another $3,000 came from the Memorial Fund (page 23). Admittedly, the Clavinova, which is an impressive and flexible instrument, will find other uses. (It was used to mimic a harpsichord last Sunday at 10:30.) Nonetheless, the church spent $5,880 that would not have been spent were it not for Refuge. Even if we are considering only the marginal cost, rather than the fully allocated cost, of staging Refuge, the entire $5,880 cost should be attributed to the Refuge Service Fund.

I would like to know more about the $5,264.86 spent for musicians. When Refuge was being put together, we were told that a musician would be hired to play a role similar to Kate Eaton’s with respect to the Wilderness service in Denver. Apparently, however, Bryan is not the only musician being paid to put on Refuge. Does the figure in question represent payment to musicians as occasional workers (i.e., not on the payroll and paying their own taxes, etc.)? Does the figure include whatever we are paying Bryan? Is Bryan actually a St. Paul’s employee? If so, is his salary and fringe buried in the black box labeled “Total Personnel Commission” on page 16? Or is Bryan’s salary prorated to reflect how much of his time is spent on Refuge and how much time is spent on other things? (Parishioners who are not members of the choir likely do not realize how much time Bryan does spend working with the choir and Canterbury Choir.) As in the case of the Clavinova, St. Paul’s would not have hired a second professional musician at all were it not for Refuge. We should not pay Bryan to work with, for example, Canterbury Choir out of the grant for Refuge, but all of Bryan’s cost is avoidable in a parish without Refuge and, arguably, should be attributed to Refuge.

Finally, it would be helpful to have a breakout of the $4,073.83 line for “supplies, artwork, music, misc.” It matters how much money went to what. How much of this amount represents a capital investment in Refuge (e.g., pots that are re-used each Sunday) and how much is for consumables that represent an ongoing expense for as long as Refuge lasts? In particular, is “artwork” a capital expense, or is the artwork used for a few weeks and discarded?

As of the end of 2010, Refuge has, according to the annual report, netted St. Paul’s $13,373.55. Realistically, that amount is overstated. It may be substantially overstated. An explanation is required.

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