The 2015-16 fiscal year has now ended and the finance committee is working on closing the books. Some reconciliations and adjustments remain to be completed, but preliminary reports indicate that we will likely end the year in a much better position than had been anticipated at the end of the 3rd Quarter, with a budget surplus in the range of $20,000 rather than a similarly sized deficit.
The turn-around is largely due to extraordinary pledge collections in May and June that were 28% ($26,500) greater than the same period the previous year. Year-end donations also came in substantially higher than expected ($9,000 over budget). It thus appears that total income received will be within 0.5% of our $688,000 operating budget.
However, it is apparent that expenses will be substantially under-budget even though several are not yet booked. Some planned consulting services were deferred to offset revenue withdrawals early in the year. Our senior minister search was less expensive than it might have been and was budgeted to be. Staff were extraordinarily frugal with their travel and professional expenses as concern grew over the slow rate of pledge collections through most of the year. Facility expenses (utilities, property insurance, grounds keeping) also ended the year under budget. Consequently, we expect to close the year with total expenses under-budget by approximately 4% ($25,000).
The budget surplus will be added to the Reserve and bring its total to over $50,000, about 7% of the operating budget for next year. While much healthier than it’s been for many years, it will still be about $20,000 short of our policy objective of 10%. But an additional $10,000 is budgeted to be contributed to the reserve over the course of the coming year, so we should be very close by next July.
Despite our total income nearly meeting expectation, our collection rate on the 2015-16 pledge remains below average at 94% and $17,000 short of the 97% collection rate assumed in our budget. The shortfall was compensated for by early payments on next year’s pledge that were 50% ($13,000) higher than the previous year. By tradition, we will continue to count late payments received through the end of August against the 2015-16 pledge, which should boost our collection rate by another 1% or 2%. Please settle up now if you have any remaining balance due, as It will be important for our collection rate to approach our budgetary assumption of 97% in order to justify it as reasonable and avoid any unnecessary austerity in the budget we craft next Spring.