President's Message: May 2015

Kathy Rosenblum
Kathy Rosenblum

Annual Meeting

The CBS annual meeting will take place on Sunday, May 3. I hope that everyone who is able to will attend -- it's important that we have the quorum needed to adopt the slate of candidates for the Board of Directors, and for you to hear about some important initiatives taking place in our congregation.

One of the matters to be addressed is the budget for the upcoming fiscal year beginning June 1. The Finance Committee, led by Chairman Larry Samberg, put great effort and care into the budgeting process, balancing the responsibility to adequately fund our programs and building requirements with the need to be mindful of the impact of spending increases on congregants. The FY2016 budget was approved by the Board of Directors at its meeting in April. I'd like to share with you the highlights of the budget, as well the approach to one of the largest financial challenges we are facing.

The budget for FY16 is approximately $1.24 million, up from about $1.12 million last year. About 79% of our income comes from membership dues and religious school tuition. The remaining 21% of income comes mostly from fundraising, building assessments, facility rentals, grants (Jewish Federation of Central MA is the largest source), and High Holy Day seating cards. Our largest expense categories are salaries (61%), building and mortgage interest payments (15%), and general/administrative (8.6%).

There has been very little increase in operating expenses from last year; the main driver behind the increase in expenses for FY16 is our capital funding needs. For many years, we have not adequately budgeted for the hefty capital expenses that come with the maintenance of our aging building and grounds. Each year, we are faced with critical needed repairs -- to the roof, HVAC system, security and smoke detection systems, elevators, parking lot, and other areas. The especially harsh weather this winter has accelerated the need for the replacement of large areas of the roof.

The Finance Committee has begun addressing this deficiency by allocating money to a building reserve fund. For FY16, an allocation of $66,000 has been built into the budget, which will just cover expected capital needs during that year. This allocation has pushed the dues increase to between 3-4%, depending on the membership category. We hope to gradually build a larger pool of resources for these needs in the years to come, but the funding does not need to come from dues alone. The Sustaining Our Vision Task force, which is studying ways to address the medium to long-term financial needs of the congregation, will ultimately make recommendations for ways in which we can better meet these financial challenges in the future, including through member contributions, special campaigns and targeted philanthropy.

The Finance Committee and the Board have also devised a way to mitigate the impact of dues increases by offering congregants an opportunity to earn a credit toward membership dues based on a certain level of scrip purchases. (See related article in this bulletin.) More information about the program will be made available soon.

You can find more detail about our congregational finances in the annual report, and at the meeting on May 3 you will hear more about the ongoing efforts to address these challenging financial issues. I'd like to thank all of you for your financial support of the congregation, which allows us to remain an active and vibrant Jewish community.

Kathy Rosenblum