Thursday, February 17, 2011

More on the Financial Front

The first of my financial questions was answered today in St. Paul’s’ weekly e-mail:
Good Financial News!
As I noted in the Treasurer's Report included in St. Paul's 2010 Annual Report, we applied for a $69,900 loan from the diocesan Growth Fund to refinance our current loan with the Growth Fund and our PNC loan. The purpose of the loan was to reduce our interest costs (the PNC loan was above 7% and we could refinance at 3% with the diocese), as well as our cash outlay each year for these loans. I am happy to report that the Board of Trustees approved our loan at their February meeting, which will save us about $4,600 compared to what we budgeted for 2011.
This news more or less answers question 2 in my post “Questions for the Treasurer.” Unfortunately, it raises another question. The new loan from the diocese is for $69,900. On page 14 of the annual report, however, the total of the short-term and long-term portions of our two loans—I really don’t understand the short-term/long-term distinction, by the way—is $65,701.86. Did we borrow more than we needed?

There seems to be good news and bad news on the stewardship front. Apparently we need more pledges than we had in hand when the annual meeting was held. Nevertheless, the annual meeting was held almost exactly one year after the 2010 annual meeting, so it should be meaningful to compare pledges reported at the two meetings. (Somewhat as an aside, I note that our meeting this year was held on Sunday, January 30. According to the 2010 minutes on page 45 of the annual report, that meeting was held on January 30, 2010. I think the correct date is January 31, 2010.)

According to John Sweeney’s Stewardship Commission report (page 37), as of January 10, we had 227 pledges totaling $587,420. This is good news because the average pledge is $2,587.75. According to the minutes of the 2010 meeting, the average pledge at about the same time of year was only $2,103.34. Now the bad news. According to the minutes from last year, the rector announced that we had 290 pledges in hand totaling $610,000. In other words, from 2010 to 2011, we increased pledges by 23%, but the number of pledges decreased by 22% . What is going on here? Perhaps Lou’s boast that the 290 pledges included “44 brand new pledges” suggests an answer. Since new pledges tend to be lower than pledges from long-time parishioners, perhaps we lost many of those new pledges, thus raising the average. If so, it is not an encouraging trend.

One final concern. Whereas in the annual reports of other parishes, I see information about discretionary funds, there is no such information in our annual report. Why is that? Does the parish not contribute to discretionary funds for priests?

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