I reported the results of the January council meeting in February’s newsletter and, as of this deadline, the council has not met yet in February, so for this article I would like to talk about some financial discussions that have been happening in the Church Council, Finance Committee, and Executive Committee. No decisions have been made and your input and opinions are needed.
As I stated last month, Zion finished 2019 strong financially. Income was $53k greater than expenses. Total expenses for 2019 was $1,032k while total income was $1,085k. Also, at the end of December, Zion had a total of $223k in our General Fund account and the Building Fund account. But Zion is potentially facing some large expenses in the future and we need to plan for those expenses. Here are some large expenses that could be on the horizon and a rough estimate for each.
- Youth Director position ($40k – $60k annually)
- New flooring and upholstery in the sanctuary ($60k)
- Chip seal the parking lot ($25k)
- More land for the Zion cemetery ($60k)
- Land for a parking lot at Marysville ($15k)
- Approved gift to Camp Wapogasset ($5k in 2020 and $5k in 2021)
The Church Council has been planning for some of these expenses. Currently, there is $20k earmarked in the Special Projects account for long-term maintenance expenses for the building and grounds. Two years ago, the council decided to set some money aside for potential upcoming maintenance expenses such as replacing the main water heater or an HVAC unit. $10k was put aside in 2018 and another $10k was earmarked at the end of 2019. This money has not been used.
Also, the Memorial Fund has approximately $16K designed for re-carpeting and re-upholstering the Sanctuary. A lot more is needed to complete this project, but that’s a start. Currently, a group is looking into design options and color schemes Recently, a generous church member has hired (free to the church) a professional interior design consultant to propose a possible design. And the Cemetery Board has a $10k CD which will be used towards new land around the Zion cemetery.
Then, there is the Building Fund. As of the end of January, there is $59k in this fund. Although not an official policy, there has been a long-standing desire to maintain at least 3 months-worth of mortgage payments in this account. Our monthly mortgage is approximately $14k so that would be $42k. That leaves an “extra” $17k in this fund. The question, is what, if anything, should we do with this “extra” money?
One can make a very good argument that this money should be used to pay down the principal on the mortgage. Over the years, this would amount to significant savings in interest towards the end of the mortgage. The mortgage was refinanced three years ago when the land to the south of Zion was purchased and so there is nearly 27 years left on the mortgage. The original intent of having a General Fund and Building Fund account was so that members who want to give just to the mortgage of the building can. A capital campaign drive occurred to raise funds specifically for the building mortgage and some may argue that is how it should remain.
Others may argue that because our building is over 30 years-old we should transfer the “extra” money into the long-term maintenance account. This would increase that amount from $20k to $37k, but then what do we do with it? Do we hold on to it in case the hot water heater or HVAC unit breaks or do we use it on the parking lot? My vote is that we use it to re-carpet and re-upholster the sanctuary. The carpet currently in the sanctuary is over 30 years old and very worn at the front of the church. Some places have duct tape holding down the bits and pieces and covering seams and holes in the carpeting. New carpeting and upholstery will provide a real visual change to the church and generate a lot of excitement.
Still others may argue that the “extra” money in the Building Fund should be used for new capital purchases such as more land around Zion cemetery or a parking lot at Marysville church. As everyone knows who goes to Marysville on Monday nights in the summer, the line of parked cars on the dirt road going west can go for quite some ways and the ditches on either side are steep in some areas.
The only real commitment we have made has been that we have told Camp Wapogasset that Zion will give them $15k from 2019 to 2021 for their capital campaign to build a new welcoming center and dining hall. So, all of these other potential expenses, for now, do not have to occur if we feel we cannot afford them.
As you can see, we have a lot of options and we need everyone’s input and thoughts to make the right decisions for the church. Do we hold on to the money and squirrel it away for a rainy day or do we spend it on one of these projects laid out here? Or do we spend it on something else? Please provide your emails, phone calls, and input to any Church Council or Finance Committee member. Your opinion matters.