Board Highlights for April 2019: A New Endowment and Budget Decision-Making

The UUSM Board of Directors met April 10, with a 16 congregants in the gallery. After check-in, the board got right to business.

There is one new member this month: Suzanne Rainey. Please welcome her, as you greet unfamiliar faces. The $6,000 Website Team funding, from last month’s discussion, will come from the Capital Building Reserve.

The Rev. Greg Ward’s Developmental Minister’s Report covered, most notably, his decision to resign from ministry at UUSM. His last Sunday will be June 23. He had great praise for the cochairs of the Stewardship Committee, Kit Shaw and Gretchen Goetz, for their highly organized pledge campaign – and for the wonderful Connectors, who were critical to the success of the pledge drive. Kit and Gretchen hosted a “thank you” dinner for the Connectors to show appreciation for the many  volunteers who stepped up. There were a significant number of people who increased their pledges this year, and these increases were matched based on an eligibility formula. This is great, but as a result, the Sustainability Fund is being used faster than expected. Currently, there are enough funds to make all of the anticipated matches, but more money will need to be raised to supplement the fund for future campaigns.

Ray Goodman speak at church
Benefactor Ray Goodman

The charter for the Ray & Betty Goodman Ministerial Continuing Education Restricted Fund was approved: a restricted fund of $30,000. As specified in the bequest, interest generated from this fund will go towards continuing educational development of fellowshipped ministers associated with UUSM. The funds will likely be invested in the UUA Common Endowment Fund.

Our intern minister, Robin Stillwater, plans on more Me Too classes, because interest remains strong. She encourages people who have already taken her class to speak to those who might be interested. The Young Adults plan to have a retreat on May 4. She reminded board meeting attendees who are interested in being GA delegates to contact Church Administrator Nurit Gordon.

The Investment Committee brought a number of suggestions in investment strategy, which became motions that were collectively approved by the board. These motions included staggering CD maturity and transferring some funds to the UUA Common Endowment Fund. Consideration was given to the management of expenses from different brokerage firms where UUSM funds are held. Ultimately, it was decided that Merrill Lynch would remain our brokerage firm.  Anyone who is interested in obtaining the full investment document may contact Steve White.

The majority of the meeting was devoted to examining the budget for 2019–20 church year.

A draft budget, as it was first presented to the congregation at a meeting on Sunday, April 7, showed a deficit of about $58,000. The consensus of the board that this amount of deficit would be unacceptable to the congregation. The board proceeded to review both income and expense line items to bring the deficit down. Concerning income, the board voted to impose a 4% contingency for unpaid pledges (an anticipated decrease of income of approximately $14,000) and to decrease projected Dining for Dollars fundraising income to $30,000, to be more in line with current expectations. Both of these amendments increased the bottom-line deficit.

On the expenses side, it was decided that the allotment for staff raises would be held to no more than $7,500, instead of the originally proposed $15,000 in merit raises and cost-of-living adjustments. Additional expense items, such as funding for guest speakers and minister support (for a professional membership/leadership consultant) were also reduced.

There was a very extensive discussion within the Board and comments from the guests present, regarding a proposal – first introduced at the April 7 meeting – to decrease the director of Religious Exploration position by 25%; essentially reducing the full-time position to three-quarter time. The discussion was, at times, emotional, concerning children and youth RE attendance, and the high demands on this position and RE volunteers. Ultimately, this decrease was approved by the board. This decision was based on the fact that, currently, UUSM does not have many children attending the RE program and that our level of staffing is not in line with other UU churches with similar RE attendance. Although the congregation will make the ultimate decision about the RE program at the May Annual Meeting, in light of the current proposed budget deficit, this cut seems a responsible approach.

The combined total of these changes brought the deficit in the proposed budget to approximately, $42,000; this was approved by the Board and will be presented to the congregation.

The meeting ran long and included several difficult decisions, as is typically the case when the budget is discussed.

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