President's Message: April 2014

Gordon Manning
Gordon Manning

From the President: Where We Stand Financially


The book of Exodus ends with a public accounting of the resources that were used in the building of the first tabernacle. Later books include periodic references to the costs of upkeep and repair of the Temple in Jerusalem. We deal with similar issues today for our own holy community. While the budget for next year is not yet finalized, I wanted to take this opportunity to give you a sense of where we stand financially. We have continued to improve our systems for tracking our financial status. Ed Sherr, our previous Treasurer, and Mark Rosen, VP of Finance & Administration, did some amazing work over the last two years to make sure all of our accounts were trued up. We continue to have an annual review by an outside accounting firm, and work with them to address any problems and improve our systems. This year, Larry Samberg stepped up to chair our Finance committee. He and other committee members have significantly improved what is reported to the Board on a monthly basis, and this promises to improve even more next year as we true up our monthly budgets to reflect when we expect income and expenses to occur so that discrepancies can be identified as quickly as possible. Our annual budget runs about $1.1 million. About 83% of our income is derived from annual membership dues and religious school tuition. The remaining 17% is from grants (Jewish Federation of Central MA being the primary source), fundraising, High Holy Day seating cards, facility rental fees, building assessments, etc. Our expenses are managed very closely. Salaries (59%) and Building maintenance/mortgage interest (16%) make up the greatest portion of our expenses. Our balance sheet is healthy. After setting aside the amount of cash reserves required by our mortgage agreement, our endowment and money in our restricted funds, we had $150,000 in cash reserves to start our current fiscal year, and we anticipate being in a similar place at the end of May. Our greatest opportunity for additional income is scrip. We currently budget about $7,800 in profit. This could be significantly higher if most of us changed our habits and began using scrip on a regular basis. It would not cost anyone additional money, but it could make a huge impact on the finances of our community. We have a few challenges: Adjustments: $200,000. One of our core principles is that we do not exclude members on the basis of what they can afford. Nevertheless, these adjustments have a real effect on what we are able to collect in membership dues and religious education tuition. Prior to the recent recession, this number was significantly lower, and we hope that it will begin to decrease over time as the economy improves. Dues to the URJ: $50,000. This is based largely on our expenses - which are relatively high for us compared with other congregations due to the size of our religious school. We have applied for an adjustment to lower the impact on our bottom line. The URJ is aware of the problem that all congregations face in this regard and is actively working to modify the system by which they fund themselves. Mortgage principal and interest: $97,000 annually. Our current mortgage balance is $1.29 million. Capital expenses: To help minimize the impact on our budget from year to year, we need to spread the cost of large projects/repairs over time. This will require us to have additional cash reserves. Our Finance committee is developing recommendations for how we build and maintain these reserves over time. The bottom, bottom line - your continued participation and financial support are what allows B’nai Shalom to remain a strong vibrant Jewish community. Thank you for all that you do!

L’Shalom,
Gordon Manning