Things we don’t know about UU Asheville in the next two years:
- What is the state of the congregation? How many members will we have once the pandemic settles down and we have a new minister?
- What kind of ministry do we want? It’s possible to change our structure to include just one minister (this would be dictated by giving levels), or a lead minister with an assistant minister like we have now, or co-ministers.
- What income can we work with? Remember that we get no funds from anyone but us. If there are a lot of us and we give 3-5% of our incomes, we can do a lot. If there are fewer of us and we are less able/willing to give generously, that’s different.
- Some of our staff members are at retirement age. How might that affect staff structure and accompanying costs?
Things we know:
- Re-visioning and getting new ministerial leadership will re-energize the congregation. From other congregations, we note that a transition like this usually results in a significant uptick in giving and volunteerism.
- We need a half-time A/V Coordinator now to make sure our video capabilities are dependably available and that some of the website and graphics work done by the Director of Administration is moved out of that job.
- We are benefiting from the fact that our RE Coordinators are functioning at a level defined as “Religious Educators” by the UUA, but we are paying them at the lower “RE Coordinators” level.
- The inflation rate for goods and services in the US is significantly higher than it has been for the past 40 years.
- For the past nine years we have made sure that all employees received the SSN cost of living increase. This year that increase is 5.9%.
- Years ago, the Board of Trustees declared that we would always pay our minimum wage employees (exclusively our childcare workers) at the Asheville Living Wage rate. This year that rate is $17.70/hour.
- The UUA asks congregations to donate 6.5% of their expenses to support their work on our behalf. Historically we have managed 4%.
If you were paying attention to that last list, you will have figured out that the budget pressures are HUGE this year. I hinted in my January blog that this was going to be a rough year and that deficit spending could be on the table. If we choose to pay for all the items in the “things we know” list, we will create a budget deficit of a little less than $90,000 if early returns from our Annual Giving Drive are any indication of our income for 22-23.
Right now, as the Executive, Finance Advisory Committee, and Board of Trustees wrestle with the 2022-23 budget, they are faced with some tough decisions. Nearly all decisions are made with “too little” information, but as you can imagine, making budget decisions in an environment where expenses are going up, income is not meeting it, and future income and expenses are hidden in a fog of uncertainty is crazy-making.
Here are some of our choices:
- Create a balanced budget right now! Because it looks like our income will not be much higher than it was last year, that would mean not doing any of the things listed in the “things we know” list: no new A/V position, no raises for the RE Coordinators, no cost-of-living increases, maybe a decrease instead of an increase in UUA giving. And even then, other cuts might need to be made.
- Create a balanced budget right now! Since personnel costs are always our largest expense area, we could lose staff members as we have had to do in the past.
- Deficit spend. We have about $203,000 in our Contingency Fund. Let’s try to raise more money but then use the Contingency Fund this year and next year to tide us over until we have less uncertainty and can make smarter long-term decisions.
- Deficit spend, but choose which of the things in the “things we know” list we can drop for now so the deficit isn’t quite so large.
Thank your congregational leaders for this work. It is NOT for the faint of heart.
Linda Topp, Director of Administration