Dear fellow sisters and brothers of St. Mary’s. As 2016 retreats and we pause to reflect there is much to be thankful for at St. Mary’s! The generosity of gracious people through their talents, time and financial contributions; helping to make possible outreach and monetary support to both local and global communities. Our recent fellowship with the Omar family alongside St. Mary’s commitment to be of service in the resettlement of refugees. Our church is a place of vibrant energy, creativity and love. For all of this we are grateful.
In turning our attention to the New Year both the Finance and Canonical Committees have been carefully preparing & reviewing the 2017 budget over the last several months. Below you will find a host of areas we feel are important to share with you.
How has the budget been prepared over the past few years?
We last had a balanced budget in 2013. Since that time, we have consciously budgeted deficits in the $15,000 to $25,000 range; which were designed to increase financial resources to expand our programs in order to grow our church. A promising theme is that actual budget deficits have typically been less than the budgeted amounts. Along with a surprise $25,000 grant that has nearly covered our deficits for the last two years.
Even with deficits St. Mary’s has been successful! We have grown and created new ministries. We have a wonderfully engaged congregation. Some of the programs we stretched to take on include youth and music ministry; both are incredibly important to who we are as St Mary’s.
But we need to move our budget towards a place that is sustainable in the long term. Where our income can sustainably support all we do, and where we are in a good place when LeeAnne retires and we need to take on a new priest (don’t worry, she’s not going anywhere soon!) We feel it’s important to “turn the curve”, so to speak, and move back towards a balanced budget.
So what is the budget for 2017 2017-budget, click here
With the above statements in mind, the finance committee’s goal was to keep the deficit below $20,000 in the 2017 budget. You will also find that there are several changes being proposed. This is currently just a proposal, the Wardens and Treasurer are proposing to accept this budget, but we won’t finalize it until everyone has had some time to review it.
How can I participate?
There will be an open forum for comments through January 15. Let us know your thoughts! You can share with us by dropping a note in the office, speaking with or emailing a note to Co-Wardens Jon Spoerri and Dana Buffie, Treasurer Catherine Neuschler and Rector LeeAnne Watkins.
What are the major changes?
LeeAnne has happily chosen to make the minimum salary for years, though vestry has consistently wanted to increase that, the budget has prevented us from doing that. But we need to start moving towards putting her salary on par with other similar positions and to bring into the budget some expenses LeeAnne has been bearing. For 2017, LeeAnne’s salary is increasing to cover the costs of health insurance for her son (and to make sure we contribute the minimum for employee + 1 health insurance).
We were cautious in adding expenses. Some of the changes we would have liked to have seen were cut from the budget. Consequently, creative ways were explored to compensate LeeAnne in lieu of a straight salary increase. (1) She is going to be adding 13 weeks of flex time-off in lieu of a salary increase; which is just as valuable to LeeAnne as a salary increase. (2) Over the next several years, we intend to balance LeeAnne’s flex time-off and salary by decreasing one and increasing the other to bring her salary back to parity with similar positions.
How will LeeAnne’s salary be increased over time?
There will be a gradual phase-in over 4 years to LeeAnne’s salary plus housing allowance; from current amount $69,475 to a goal of $85,000. This is an overall increase of 22%. Phase-in would begin in 2018 with a 5.2% increase year over year.
Any other expenses being added?
How will expenses be lowered?
There is not a lot of room in our budget that isn’t staff costs, and these are hard things to cut. In order to turn the curve on the budget, we are proposing to cut from both the 9 am and 10:30 am music budgets; moving each from 20 hours a week to 15 hours. This isn’t a cut any of us want to make, but it is the most feasible at this time, to move towards a balanced budget without removing a whole ministry that is important. These cuts would take effect on June 1 2017, unless we get additional funds.
Why haven’t the staff cuts driven down the deficit considerably more?
Expenses were kept about the same overall, but the absence of a Montana summer camp this year decreased our income by about $6,000. Adding the expense for LeeAnne’s son healthcare costs means we still have a deficit but are keeping it under $20,000. The deficit does get covered by our dipping into our reserves, which isn’t good long-term stewardship.
Here are the income highlights.
How has Stewardship kept up with the budget?
Our pledge growth has not kept pace with the costs of our programs & ministries. In response a subcommittee has been created that will be focus on engagement, education and encouraging 100% participation.
We do plan to re-evaluate the budget in mid-April, and if we have additional pledges to cover the cut in music, we won’t implement the music cuts.
Does the Diocese assists us financially in any way?
They offer the staff time of the missioner team to assist us with their expertise, but no funds come in from the diocese, in fact, we provide funds to pay for our bishop, missioners, poorer congregations around the state, and a portion goes to the national church.
We are very touched and grateful for your giving. Our hope is to be good stewards of our resources, our future and the financial health of St. Mary’s. We believe the proposed changes begin to bring parity to LeeAnne’s compensation and her peers. We have rightfully taken over expenses that LeeAnne was paying out of pocket. Though we are pained to propose cuts in ministry, we found a solution that will not eliminate any single ministry of St. Mary’s.
Also, please watch for the annual finance meeting, likely happening in early February.
Jon Spoerri and Dana Buffie-Gleason, wardens
Catherine Neuschler, treasurer