Thank you to all who pledged so generously during Stewardship Month! Nearly 60 people/couples increased their pledges, and we raised more than last year. But, we fell short of our goal. This was a difficult budget year, due to several factors:
- Inflation caused a rise in building maintenance costs, including utilities
- Staff costs rose significantly, due to both Cost of Living Increase (COLA) and a huge jump in health care premiums. It is imperative that we continue to be ethical employers, paying our staff appropriately. We’d also like to retain them! We did not give the staff COLA last year.
- Some former pledgers moved away or were not in a position to pledge at their previous amounts. Others have not returned to their pre-pandemic level of engagement with the congregation- we still hope they will come back!
- Fundraising events that were held in the pre-pandemic times may have run their course or need new leadership and energy AND we need new ideas for raising funds.
- Our rental income is still a minimal part of our overall income. Finding renters is a challenge.
When the Board met last week, we faced a $40K shortfall, if we were to maintain our practice of drawing only 4% from our investments. We put everything on the table and reached some conclusions:
- We can’t balance the budget on the backs of the staff. We have lost an Assistant Minister position and some hours from the Membership Coordinator position in recent years. We have an RE Coordinator but no Youth Coordinator.
- We must maintain the money budgeted for Religious Education staffing in order to attract a candidate who might be hired for the position.
- We agreed to increase rental and fundraising lines in the budget, being optimistic that the congregation will come through. We will need a volunteer team to market for rental income. (Office space for therapists or music teachers, summer camps, yoga classes, other?)
- We agreed with great reluctance to cut our “fair share” dues to the Unitarian Universalist Association by $15K and our support of UU Mass Action by $2.5K. It is our hope that some members of the congregation will respond to restore that money. Particularly in this year, when the Rev. Dr. Sofía Betancourt, who is Black and Latina, will become the new president of the UUA, it is important that our congregation support the work that lies ahead. More conversations and info to follow. We welcome your ideas and input.
The next step is for the budget to go to a joint meeting between Board and Parish Council. It will be finalized next week to prepare for distribution with the warrant. Information sessions ahead of the May 21 Annual Meeting will be held in person after church on April 30 and May 7, and via Zoom on Wednesday, May 10th, 7-8 PM Let’s shoulder this shortfall problem together and see what we can do! The Board of Trustees: Gail Forsyth-Vail and Erika Cohen-Maddaluno, Co-Chairs Tad Bickford, Lynn Langton, Susan Malloy, Kirk Olsen, John Williams, with non-voting members Don Melson, Treasurer and Rev. Lee Bluemel