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A 2019 budget report from the Mountain Sky Council on Finance and Administration

September 30, 2019
Figure 1
Submitted by the Rev. Dr. C. Dennis Shaw
Statistician, Mountain Sky Conference, UMC


This report from the Mountain Sky Conference's Council on Finance and Administration outlines where we are financially at this point in our year. The message is mixed. Our income is down. Although we are in the black through reduced spending, this surely has an impact on mission accomplishment.

Figure 1 shows aggregate income to the Conference since Jan. 1, 2018.

The green columns represent how we did last year. The orange columns represent how we are doing this year. The solid line represents the income needed to meet our 2018 and 2019 budgets.

Please note that all 2018 numbers are created by adding Legacy Yellowstone and Legacy Rocky Mountain income together (we had separate budgets and processes for all of 2018).

Our income for 2019 for our new conference is lagging that of 2018. Yet the 2019 budget is quite similar to the combined 2018 budgets for the two legacy conferences.

Graphic for Figure 2 Figure 2 shows income by month. The same green (2018) and orange (2019) logic applies. The solid line in this case represents the necessary income by month for us to have sufficient income to meet our budget.

To restate a key point from Figure 1, 2019 income is lagging behind 2018. March and August income differences between 2018 and 2019 make up the greatest negative differences for the year. There are a number of factors at play here:
  • First, there is a difference in how we calculated Mission Shares for Legacy Yellowstone between 2018 and 2019. For 2018, Legacy Yellowstone churches were provided a specific number by the Conference as their Mission Share to support the Conference. In 2019, all churches are using an income based model dependent on local calculation to determine their Mission Share. Introduction of change brings with it learning in how to accomplish a new task.
  • Second, Legacy Yellowstone churches had 13 months between all of 2018 and the first month of January, 2019 to pay their Mission Shares. In the transition to the new conference, the recognition system for local churches to celebrate their support of the Conference for Legacy Yellowstone churches moved from January through December to February through the end of January. Thus, Legacy Yellowstone churches got an extra month to pay for their support of the 2018 Mission Shares. The difference between January, 2018 and 2019 on Figure 2 is in part a function of that extra month. That was a once in a lifetime occurrence, and the year is again 12 months for all churches.
  • Third, local church frustration with the outcome of General Conference 2019 in St. Louis is to some degree displayed. The question is how much? That is much harder to determine but it is safe to say that some of the decline is due to factors in 2019 that were not true in 2018.
Various methods of forecasting income for 2019 generally arrive at a forecasted income for 2019 of about $5.6 million. That is about $1 million less than we need to fully execute our 2019 budget.

Graphic for Figure 3How are we doing in terms of adjusting our expenses to meet our decline in terms of income?

Figure 3 displays where we are in terms of Income compared to Expenses.

We have reduced our expenses, actual and forecasted, by a comparable number to the expected income shortfall. That has resulted in a positive position through the end of August of about $233,000 (K on the figure means thousand.)

We have accomplished this primarily through a combination of hire lags (read on) and underpayment of our General and Jurisdictional Apportionment.

A hire lag is not hiring expeditiously against a personnel vacancy that has occurred. We have had several open positions that we allowed to remain unfilled for an extended period of time or not filled at all to save money. It should be noted that such an action means that a specific function leadership deemed necessary for mission accomplishment was, and in some cases is, not present. This delays mission accomplishment by the Conference. I would expect all to agree that when there is a forecast of less money, delaying or not hiring is prudent and necessary, but it inhibits mission accomplishment.

It is the stated position of your Council on Finance and Administration that we will finish 2019 in the black, that is, income greater than expenses. Right now, we are paying 65 percent of our General and Jurisdictional Apportionment. We review this monthly. The more our realized income for 2019 increases over our current forecast of $5.6 Million towards the budgeted $6.655 million, the higher the probability we can pay the General and Jurisdictional Church at a rate greater than 65 percent. Our final payment for 2019 on General and Jurisdictional Apportionment must be made in early January, 2020.

The Mountain Sky Budget is missionally focused. The mission of the Mountain Sky Conference is to live in God’s grace and abundance as we lead a re-energized peaceful and compassionate movement to claim the life-changing love of Jesus Christ for ALL people. We focus on this mission by:
  • Renewing and establishing vital congregations.
  • Developing leaders who are gifted at empowering local churches and laity in the Church’s mission.
  • Establishing new faith communities to meet the needs of our unique mission field.
  • Supporting the United Methodist transformational mission worldwide.
Those verbs – to renew, to develop, to establish, to support – require resourcing. Our mission connects us all, both locally and globally. We continue to need you to resource this mission and these foci. We will keep you posted monthly on how we are doing in this area. Please direct comments and questions to revdennisshaw@gmail.com or the Conference Treasurer Noreen Keleshian at nkeleshian@mtnskyumc.org or 303-325-7051.