Oh what a difference a few weeks can make!
FY14 Budget Vote is This Sunday at 12:30. The board voted to approve a draft FY14 budget at our meeting last night. This Sunday, at 12:30 PM in the Sanctuary, after our second worship service, the congregation will vote on that budget at a follow-up to our May Annual Meeting.
We’re refinancing our mortgage loan. Due to the extraordinary efforts of our Finance team, we are in a much stronger financial position than we were even a month ago. Under the leadership of David Oakes, with the assistance of Phil Kluge and building upon on the previous efforts of Matt Wilson and others, we have been able to renegotiate the terms of our loan with the Reading Cooperative Bank. Our new terms involve a reduction in our interest rate from 6 ¾ to 4 ¾ with no years added to the life of the loan and no significant refinancing fees since our property does not have to be reassessed by a new lender (fees are $ 1,500). After 4 years, there is no penalty to paying off our mortgage early and we can pay as much as $ 100,000 per year off the principal with no penalty even during the first 4 years.
We’ve received a $ 100,000 anonymous donation. Our refinancing success was fueled by the extraordinary generosity of anonymous congregants who donated $ 100,000 over the past 6 months to be used exclusively to pay off our loan principal. This donation was instrumental in our ability to demonstrate financial strength to the bank in order to renegotiate our loan terms. With this donation, our loan balance now stands just under $ 574,000 and with the reduced interest rate, our annual mortgage payment is reduced by nearly $ 18,000 per year!
We now have a financial bridge. These savings represent the bridge that the board has been seeking to take us from our current financial landscape to the landscape we envision at the completion of the Special Campaign that the board initiated the planning phase for this year and which will remain in the planning stages until the spring of 2015. Given that our mortgage hampers our ability to translate the extraordinary generosity of our congregation into our mission and vision, the board launched Special Campaign planning this year with the goals of paying down our mortgage, fairly compensating our talented staff, increasing our reserve funds, funding delayed property maintenance and increasing program funding so that we are best able to continue creating a beloved community while reaching out into our community and our world.
The FY14 Pledge Drive will bring in $ 428,000. I would like to send my very special thank you to this year’s Annual Budget Drive Team, led by Matt Wilson (At-Large Member and incoming V.P. Planning) and George Marinakis. The team led a strong campaign and was tireless in their efforts to raise the funds needed to sustain our church for the upcoming year. The team projects the pledge drive to end up at $ 428,000 (currently at $ 420,000). If you have not yet sent in your pledge, please do so right away. We’re counting on it!
The FY14 budget passed by the board achieves several goals: continue to fund the Member Services Coordinator position, which resulted in 27 first-time pledges in this year’s pledge drive; provide all staff a 2.5% Cost of Living Increase (excepting our DFD, Anne Principe, who already had a pre-negotiated salary increase this year); provide an additional 1.5% merit increase to our Office Administrator, Rosemary Fiori in recognition of the exemplary commitment and flexibility she has exhibited during her 7 years of service with us. The budget also serves - after 7 years of delay - to bring our minister up to UUA-recommended fair wage. Since 2006 when I first began my board service, the Committee on Ministry has dutifully come to us each year to report their concern regarding the extent to which our gifted Minister is underpaid and to recommend a significant increase to his salary. And each year, due to insufficient funds and also due to the fact that Tim always lobbies for other staff increases above his own, the board has been unable to recommend a substantial increase for Tim. In the 7 years that he has been with us, Tim has received a 1.5% Cost of Living Increase and a $ 3000 bonus (last year). It gives me the greatest of pleasure to finally be able to bring Tim’s salary up to fair share and to offer all of our dedicated and hard-working staff an increase. This vote was very long in the making and took many hours of hard work from many people over many years to make possible. Thank you all!
We’re taking a hiatus from the Youth Coordinator position: The board chose to put the Youth Coordinator position on hiatus for the upcoming year. Per his plan at the outset of his employment, Seth Robinson, our current Youth Coordinator, is leaving us at the end of this church year to serve as Intern Minister at the First Parish UU in North Andover. Based on the recommendation of our DFD, and of the Faith Development Committee Chair, Deb Gilburg, and because our posting to refill this position has thus far received not one response, the board chose to take a hiatus from this position this year. Until we can adequately fund part-time positions and provide benefits, we will continue to struggle to find and retain qualified candidates.
The FY14 Board is fully staffed. The board voted last night to approve Eileen Cummings to fill the At-Large vacancy that remained after the May meeting. Eileen graciously stepped forward to volunteer for the board and to retain her Faith Development volunteer work. Eric Gaffen and Nancy Nienhuis join Eileen on the FY14 board also as At-Large members.
Thank you everyone for your hard work! At the close of this church year, I would like to thank the full Governing Board for your tremendous efforts this year and for all that we have been able to accomplish together. I would like to thank Reverend Tim, who was my close and supportive partner in leadership again this year. Finally and most importantly, I would like to thank my family, Jim and Miles, who held down the home front during the many hours I have spent in meetings, on the computer and on the phone, leading the board through this vital year of growth and change. How often we admire those who achieve while overlooking those who support them.