This is not an easy time to present a budget to the Congregation. Everything has been turned upside down since mid-March. Our building has been closed to all but essential activities, and we have had only online gatherings for worship and other events.
Having the building closed brings a lot of loss: emotional, physical and financial. We can’t worship in person or bring our children here to learn about our faith. “Going Deeper” group meetings have had to move online. All of our facility rentals have been cancelled. Some of our people have lost jobs or fear losing them and have modified their pledges.
However, with all of that loss, we are forging on to maintain, create and reimagine JUC as a vital source of love and support to our members and friends as well as the greater community. Many of you have connected as best you can online. We have reached out with a phone tree to check on as many people as we could reach. We always have a minister on-call who is available to offer support. This is still your church.
As with every year, we have the responsibility of planning for the year financially, and to communicate that to the Congregation for approval. The budget we present this year comes with the best planning we can do today, with the recognition that it will need to be monitored and modified as circumstances change. We ask for your approval now, and we will be communicating regularly as we adjust and change as the year reveals itself.
When we decided how to budget for 2020/21, we used the following programming assumption: we would be operating only online through June, possibly begin having some smaller gatherings later in the summer and resume mostly as-usual operations in September. This was only an assumption, and we know that this assumption is optimistic. As you may have heard — and we learned on the day that the Board approved this budget — the UUA is recommending that churches plan to remain closed through May of 2021. As we digest this information and determine how we react, we may need to modify the budget, perhaps more than once over fiscal 2020/21. Rest assured that you will receive updates as we make adjustments.
The effort to swap church properties with Lakewood Church of the Nazarene is on hold indefinitely. Thus, this budget does not contemplate any costs due to moving. When that project is revisited or restarted, we will revisit budgeting for it.
The first thing to note about the budget is that we are projecting lower pledge income for 2020/21 than for this fiscal year, because we have had a drop in total pledges compared to last year. Our number of members and average pledge has remained very level, but our number of pledges (households) has dropped somewhat. We have also experienced a consistent annual drop in plate income over the last few years, so we are estimating that to be lower for 2020/21.
In order to adjust to these estimated income drops we have added some additional fundraisers that we hope to be able to do if the COVID-19 situation resolves adequately.
This budget also already includes the information that our largest renter, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), will have only online classes for their fall term as they did this spring. They do plan to return to in-person classes when they can. We are working closely with their leadership to understand their plans and how they mesh with ours. In order to balance the loss of that first term rental income, we adjusted our planned UUA Annual Program Fund (APF) payment down by $10,000. The budgeted amount is 83% of the APF amount requested by the UUA. As you may know, we had to make a similar choice some years ago and then worked our way back up to 100%.
Paycheck Protection Program
You may have learned about the Federal Paycheck Protection Program in the news as it received significant publicity. This is a loan/grant program for small businesses (including churches) that provides a loan with a generous forgiveness provision. The UUA recommended that all churches research and apply for this loan. JUC did so and received a loan of $140,817 on May 13. This represents 2.5 times JUC’s monthly payroll costs. The forgiveness provision requires spending the funds on payroll, utilities, mortgage interest and rent over the eight weeks following the loan, as well as maintaining staffing during that eight weeks compared to previous staffing levels. Receipt of this loan/grant gives us more security wrapping up this fiscal year as well as a cushion to weather challenges we will surely face next fiscal year. The portion of the loan that is forgiven will be placed in JUC’s Operating Reserve; and we have balanced next year’s budget with $25,000 of these funds.
We have asked staff to carefully consider programming needs and have managed to plan for less spending where feasible in 2020/21. As examples, our Religious Education Coordinator, Jules Jaramillo, beefed up some materials this year that can be used next year and also received a grant from the Endowment and Memorial Gift Trust Fund for some programming start-up costs that will stretch resources in that area; and our Minister of Music, Keith Arnold, has budgeted for spending less (largely sheet music).
We have included a 1% cost of living adjustment for staff. This is less than the CPI measure that is usually considered for our annual adjustments, which is 2.8% for this year. One staff position has been increased (Religious Education Coordinator) because of additional responsibilities. The Caretaker and evening and Sunday office staff positions will be reorganized to utilize more volunteer help, and increase efficiency. Since our Membership Coordinator, Nick Rogall, has (sadly) decided to move home to Wisconsin in June, this position will not be filled until September at the earliest. We also have some very part-time staff that will not be used in July or August since we won’t have in-person church services.
This budget reflects an overall decrease of about 2.5% compared to 2019/20 fiscal year. We do plan to monitor carefully and adjust this as the year and our planning develops. We welcome your questions. Carol Wilsey, our Business Administrator, can take your call (303-279-5282) or email (email@example.com) if you have any questions about the numbers or details in the proposed budget.