Dear Parishioners, +JMJ
On Thursday, September 17, we had our first parish finance council meeting of the new academic year, after taking a break for the summer months. First of all we welcomed Jeff Mumma, who has agreed to join the finance council, to replace Mike Arend who recently left. If I heard correctly Mike has served on our parish finance council (including, of course, back before the merger, as a member of St. Joseph’s parish council) for some 35 years. Many of those years, he took the lead role. I am so very grateful for those many years of faithful service and dependability! The following are summary points from the meeting:
-We looked through and commented upon many of the lines of the parish balance sheet and profit-and-loss statement from the month of August.
-The two finance council members who conducted this month’s internal audit of the parish finance system, using the diocesan template, gave their report.
-We talked about school enrollment (now at 73 students) and some outstanding tuition that now has been successfully collected by our collections agency. But we also spoke about some outstanding tuition that has not yet been collected. Last year we began using an organization called FACTS to help us assess the need of those who come to us for financial assistance. FACTS requires documents, such as a family’s tax returns for its assessment. That way we have an objective way of judging the need of a given family. FACTS assembles all of the necessary data to make a recommendation to the parish of how much need a family has. A number of other parishes in our Diocese use FACTS as well (which is how I came up with this idea… asking my priest friends who are also running schools). By this next spring, we are going to have in place a process better to notify families who will be continuing with us on to the following year, how they must go about applying for financial aid through FACTS, and with the State for Ed Choice scholarships. We have some money that has been donated to the parish for the sake of helping needy families, but that does not mean we should use that whole sum for this year’s need. We need the recommendation of an organization such as FACTS to distribute the money in reasonable amounts. Also, in order to prevent any single family from accumulating debt that would be carried throughout the years of education at our school and beyond (which, as illustrated in my past parish, can literally mean managing a tuition receivables account that stretches on for decades!) we are putting into place a policy by which any family that has not somehow resolved its current tuition debt by the beginning of August will not be invited to enroll for the following year. We only envision this policy affecting those rare instances where FACTS and Ed Choice for one reason or another have not provided sufficient aid for a family.
-We noted that the overall effect of reducing the parish administrative assistant position to part-time-without-benefits, and hiring three new school teachers (which was totally unforeseen) was to cut our yearly expense on salaries by about $48,000. This should help us live within our means, given that our monthly offertory rarely reaches the budgeted amount.
-We spoke about the progress of the fundraising for the Antwerp belltower moisture repair. Given the slower pace of donations, and given that I have heard from a couple sources that they might be able to commit to some help later in the fall, and given that we are already past the middle of September, we contacted the architect Martin-Riley to suggest that we expect to have enough money collected by the end of December. Then we would give the company the go-ahead to obtain three or four competitive bids. Then we would write up the whole proposal for the Diocese, asking for permission to contract with a given contractor. By the time the Diocese would turn around permission (perhaps about a six-week turnaround?), we are looking at a spring date for completing the actual work. Martin-Riley replied that this timeline actually makes more sense than trying to get the project done in the fall – especially because so many contractors are now jampacked with work commitments that they were not able to fulfill earlier because of setbacks from last spring’s rains.
-We considered a request from the local Habitat for Humanity, which is building a home for a low income family. We agreed to donate $3,000 from the parish mission fund for this project. [The mission fund has a balance of about $20,500; and that money can only be used for the fund’s set purpose.]
-We also discussed the purpose of the “mission fund”. Somebody suggested that parishioners might not realize that this fund usually serves to help the local community. (You will remember that last year we donated to several local causes, especially on a couple of occasions to the Northwest Community Services office in Paulding County.) While it is true that on occasion in the past money has been donated from this mission fund towards foreign mission efforts in poor countries, the usual recipients of donations from this fund are local organizations that help those in need. In order to help parishioners remember accurately the purpose of the fund, we are going to change the name to “local outreach and mission fund”.
-With Father Collins of Cross Catholic Outreach joining us this weekend, we decided to give a $3,000 donation to that organization. As I expressed in last week’s bulletin, this is a very solid organization that helps very efficiently and with great mission orientation in Third World countries. Cross Catholic Outreach has been to our parish before.
-We quickly looked at the list of potential repair projects for each of our campuses. Were we to handle them all, we would be looking at a bill of about $200,000. The list includes the Antwerp belltower project, which we already discussed above. Also on the list are items such as: new siding for the Paulding rectory, handling the mold problem in the basement of the Paulding rectory, some repair of rain gutters at the Paulding church, demolition of the Payne rectory, repair of the Payne parking lot, replacement of fluorescent lights on all our campuses with the LED technology which will be required in several years, maintenance on the bells at each campus, a new garage roof at the Antwerp campus, some microphones and mixers to fix the sound systems at Paulding and Payne, etc. We have not even begun to speak about campus areas that need new paint jobs! We will be prioritizing these projects in an ongoing way, and keeping the finance council and the parish abreast of them as it seems timely to address each one.
So there is the summary of the finance council meeting.
On another note, I want to put out one last call for anybody interested in joining Fr. Matt Frisbee and me, as we lead a pilgrimage to Rome and other Italian cities this coming February. I believe we currently have close to 40 people signed up – which is plenty for a very fine trip – but we could take as many as 50 on this trip, given the bus we have reserved to transport us in Italy. If you are interested, please call the parish office to have a flyer sent to you.
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,