It has been my pleasure to serve as treasurer for the last four years.
During that time, Ian, Dori, Peggy and I have met before every board meeting to review our financials and prepare a report. We call ourselves the CMWD financial group. During the summer, we meet with accountant and financial consultant, Mark Cull. While Mark does not conduct a full audit, he quickly answers our questions and makes suggestions based on good practices. Two members of the CMWD board, but not in the "finance group", have professional experience in finance. Vice President, Meredith E.S. Beckman, is a financial planner and Nancy Armstrong serves as church treasure and a tax preparer. The full board reviews CMWD finances at each quarterly meeting and approves the district budget for the coming year at the February meeting.
We are thankful to the churches in Palatine, Oak Park, Hinsdale, and DuPage County that have provided the financial group with a place to meet. Occasionally, shops like Panera Bread have been centrally located to meet. The movement from the Hillside site to a virtual office did change our routine.
Under the direction of Ian and Dori, our district has been a leader in the UUA to improve services and to embrace new technology. Many of the changes have affected the District finances. Anyone that has attended a prior DA, must admit Dori has solved several problems with the new format. While District Assembly is a self- funding activity and does not affect the budget, it is a good example of efforts to contain expenses and still improve services. More members in my church feel the costs are low enough to allow them to attend. Ian's technology skills have allowed us to use virtual meetings, when appropriate, usually at significant cost savings. Generally, we have shifted from things like a physical office to activities that require human resources. While this provides for programs, it means that if income is less, then we are less able to pay staff. To deal with a worsening financial possibility, the staff has created a plan "B" that includes furloughs of a week each. This would mean some services would not be available.
The volatility of the market has been a concern to anyone with investments. Our reserves are about 30% in CDs and 70% in socially responsible funds. The CDs are insured and have never lost value. By board action two years ago, we did cash in a CD of about $15,000 to solve a cash flow problem in the checkbook and fund a youth program in its first year. As of December 31, 2009, the socially responsible funds returned to a value greater than they were before the September 2008 market drop.
Concerns about the percentage of churches that meet CMWD Fair share ($21/certified member) and UUA Fair share ($56/certified member) were expressed at the February 2010 board meeting. The board appreciates the efforts of Neil Lichtman with The Annual Program Fund. It was pointed out that if we increase the percentage of churches in our district that are UUA Fair share, our district benefits by a greater contribution from UUA. Both the UUA and the CMWD have postponed any increase in fair share for a year.