Trinity 2019 Budget Update and Invitation to Forum
Budget Discussion March 10 at 9 a.m. (Daylight Savings Time!)
As the vestry met each week in January to work toward a final 2019 budget, there were two guiding principles: to be as transparent as possible about Trinity’s financial situation in the budget; and to match Trinity’s planned spending to our reasonably anticipated revenue. The budget approved by the vestry and presented at our February 3 annual meeting reflects the challenges created by a decrease in pledges compared to 2018. Pledges make up over 85% of Trinity’s revenue, and our other sources of funds have not meaningfully increased. Although we hope to identify ways we might become less dependent on pledges, while continuing to work to increase the number of pledging households, the vestry could not assume revenues would increase during 2019.
The large number of delayed pledge responses made it difficult to determine what total pledge figure it was reasonable to expect. The stewardship committee’s best estimate resulted in a total pledge figure of $706,000, making up most of our total revenue figure of $820,752. This was about $46,000 less than our budget last year, reflecting not only the decrease in total pledges but the elimination of the “special pledge supplement” figure used in the past to present a balanced budget.
There were unavoidable increases in spending this year, including payment for substitute clergy during Becky’s leave; an increase in our diocesan assessment; increases in property costs such as utilities, fire alarm and elevator maintenance, trash removal, and computer costs; and increased insurance coverage.
However, some expenses will decrease, most notably when we begin providing our rector with housing rather than paying a third party landlord for it. Medical insurance coverage for staff decreased due to a change in the diocese’s provider; and the auditor charge for this review year will be less than for the full audit done in 2018.
Even after offsetting these decreased costs against the unavoidable increases, the vestry confronted a significant gap between expenses and revenue. The vestry identified expense categories that could be paid for from dedicated funds, decreasing our operating expense. We also identified expense categories where the amount actually spent in 2018 was significantly less than the amount budgeted, and reduced the 2019 budget to more closely match 2018 actual expenses. In most of those categories, the reduced 2019 budget was still equal to or slightly greater than the amount spent in 2018. However, these relatively low-impact budget decreases still left a significant gap.
After careful consideration and discussion, the vestry further determined to make no payment toward our pledge to the diocesan capital campaign, which should have been $10,000 in 2019. We also made no contribution to the maintenance or technology reserves, a decrease of $6,000 from 2018. After these very undesirable cuts, we still had expenses exceeding revenue. Staff costs makes up about 70% of our budget; there are unavoidable limits to how much we can reduce expenses in the other 30%, which covers all our programs: worship, music, Christian education, outreach, fellowship, and property essentials. The vestry, after extensive consideration, accordingly made the very painful decision to reduce some staff hours. No changes will become effective until June 1.
The March 10 forum will be devoted to our 2019 budget. Please come to ask questions and share your thoughts about the budget and what it reflects about where we are. If time permits, we might begin a longer term conversation about where we would like to go and ways we might get there. Whether or not you can come to the forum, do contact me or any other vestry member if you want to talk about the budget. We know this is important to everyone, and we want to hear from you. We hope all who care so deeply about Trinity can work together to discern, with God’s help, how to go forward to sustain and grow in what we do and what we hope to do to serve God through all his people.
Trinity Treasurer 2019