MLS finance transition to CUBS

Discuss questions around local unit policies for budgeting, reconciling, etc. This forum should not contain specific financial or membership information.
Rick.Winterton
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Postby Rick.Winterton » Mon Aug 16, 2010 3:00 pm

ddurocher wrote:I was pleasantly surprised when I was told told not to worry about getting this branch caught up, it was not necessary. Wow, it's not often that I get to hear what I want!

So if any of you are in a situation where reconciliations are not up to date, either for your own unit or a unit in your stake, this is non transition issue, but by all means, keep doing your reconciliations! :D
Being slightly paranoid by nature (and a stake clerk), I don't quite trust this. I would make reconcile before the transition. I visit my units twice a year as specified in the Church Handbook (longest distance 3.0 hours round trip, shortest distance 45 minutes round trip) and I always check that they've done reconciliations and teach them how to do them if they haven't (I'm surprised how many people forget how to do them).

Rick

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Mon Aug 16, 2010 7:25 pm

rwinterton wrote:Being slightly paranoid by nature (and a stake clerk), I don't quite trust this. I would make reconcile before the transition.
I understand what you are saying. I suspect reconciling in and of itself isn't as important as uncovering any errors and correcting them prior to the change-over. But of course, that's how you discover any errors. The books on MLS may look fine, but what's going to count is what the church records have.
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farwest
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ward balance

Postby farwest » Wed Aug 18, 2010 8:45 pm

there has always been a difference between the stake financial summary and what the balance amount wards have been allocated. I believe it hasn't jived for many years. Question when CUBS rolls in what will be the current balance amount each ward has? Hopes this make sense.

crislapi
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Postby crislapi » Thu Aug 19, 2010 11:32 am

farwest wrote:there has always been a difference between the stake financial summary and what the balance amount wards have been allocated. I believe it hasn't jived for many years. Question when CUBS rolls in what will be the current balance amount each ward has? Hopes this make sense.
Just a clarification first. The SFS knows nothing about a ward's budget and remaining balance. It just reports total ward expenses for the "billing cycle" (it is NOT always the first of the month the the last of the month). So rather than comparing balances, you are comparing total expenses (expenses - income - transfers).

I see a couple questions in this one. Here are my replies.
  1. What will the total expenses be - the current MLS value in the budget report or the value from the SFS? The first question to answer is which value is correct. Definitely the SFS. The MLS value is a reflection of what the clerk(s) have entered and therefore is subject to error. If all credits, expenses and voids are properly accounted for (and you pay attention to dates when running your budget report and comparing it to the SFS) the two should match exactly. More below if you're interested.
  2. Another potential question: what will each ward's assigned budget be? I don't think we know. I'd assume that, after entering the percentages, the wards will be allotted that percentage from the first 3 disbursements automatically. However, I can't say for sure
  3. A final potential question: There have been many times the reports have not matched MLS. If I wanted to now make them match, how far back should I go? This shouldn't be much of a problem because, at least up to this point, total ward expenses started at $0 each year on the SFS. If this is in fact an issue, you would only need to worry about 2010. The main thing to worry about before CUBS is credits. You will still be able to enter expenses but I'm making sure my wards have all entered their credits before the switch.
To make your SFS and budget report match, here are some tricks I've learned. First, saying there is always a difference may be overstating it. All my wards' MLS budget reports exactly match the SFS, but that's because I put a lot of effort into making sure they do. If you did want to make them match, I've discovered three common issues.

  1. Make sure all transactions in the miscellaneous section are accounted for. Automatic payments to entities like Staples or the Distribution Center need to be entered. When entering, use the date indicated in your CUFS as that is the date when the expense is applied when generating the SFS. Credits for returned items should be entered but credits for category switches should not.
  2. If you void a check that was issued in a previous year, MLS credits the previous year while the SFS and the CUFS credit this year's budget. You therefore need to add a credit for the amount of the voided check using the info in the "Voided Checks" section of your CUFS. Again, this is only for voided checks from a previous year. The process for doing this can be found here.
  3. Dates matter! When running your budget report, only include the dates that info appears on your CUFS. For example, Feb 28 was a Sunday. Because it was the last day of the month, it was not included in the Feb CUFS. It appears on the Mar CUFS. Here are the dates to use for the first 6 months:
    • Jan 1 - Jan 30
    • Jan 31 - Feb 27
    • Feb 28 - Mar 31
    • Apr 1 - Apr 30
    • May 1 - May 30 (might be able to go to May 31)
    • May 31 - Jun 30 (might be able to start at Jun 1)
As an aside, the main reason for making sure the total expenses in MLS match the SFS is to ensure wards do not spend more money than they have been allotted. While it is possible to reconcile successfully without entering the automatic payments (Staples, distribution center), it falsely inflates the remaining budget balance. Towards the end of the year this means wards will think they have more money than they actually do and potentially overspend their budget. Have enough wards in the stake do that, and you will end up owing CHQ money from your next year's budget.

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Thu Aug 19, 2010 12:38 pm

crislapi wrote:2. If you void a check that was issued in a previous year, MLS credits the previous year while the SFS and the CUFS credit this year's budget. You therefore need to add a credit for the amount of the voided check using the info in the "Voided Checks" section of your CUFS. Again, this is only for voided checks from a previous year. The process for doing this can be found here.
Thanks for the detailed explanation of why the SFS and MLS will differ. I would just add one note to extend your point 2 above. If you are comparing MLS and the SFS on a monthly basis, then you should be aware that voided checks will lead to differences between MLS and the SFS. MLS will treat a voided check as 0 in the month it was written, because both the check and the transfer that sets the value to 0 both have the date of the original check. But the SFS will have the check in its original month, and the transfer in whatever month it was finally processed at CHQ.

Also, any category or amount adjustments made to expenses or donations can create similar discrepancies (a returned donor check, moving a donation or expense from Budget to Other, etc.). Again, MLS dates the adjustments with the original transaction, but the SFS dates them with the date the adjustment was processed at CHQ.

All these factors (in addition to all those that crislapi mentioned) need to be considered if you want to reconcile the MLS and the SFS. In my experience, they always match, once you take all that into account. But many clerks ignore (or are not aware of) these issues, so they think the numbers just don't match.
Questions that can benefit the larger community should be asked in a public forum, not a private message.

crislapi
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Postby crislapi » Sat Aug 21, 2010 12:23 pm

crislapi wrote:Dates matter! When running your budget report, only include the dates that info appears on your CUFS. ... Here are the dates to use for the first 6 months (of 2010):
I got May wrong. Here are the updated dates:
  • Jan 1 - Jan 30
  • Jan 31 - Feb 27
  • Feb 28 - Mar 31
  • Apr 1 - Apr 30
  • May 1 - May 29
  • May 30 - Jun 30

crislapi
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Postby crislapi » Thu Sep 02, 2010 11:29 am

mlh78 wrote:In our stake we have mulled over the idea of just having the wards send a check to the stake for the balance of their budget at the end of the year. I sure hope that this new system affords stakes continued flexibility in how they allocate budgets.
See this post.

crislapi
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Postby crislapi » Tue Sep 14, 2010 10:40 pm

BroMurray wrote:Should we reconcile our July statement before the 15th?
Just an update, but reconciliations will have to be up-to-date before switching to CUBS. I don't think they won't switch you if they are not, but the new instructions will specifically say (in bold, underlined text) "make sure your reconciliations are up to date."

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nicklewis
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Stake Budget Control

Postby nicklewis » Wed Sep 22, 2010 9:29 pm

Having been both a stake and ward clerk for years, I am amazed at the fear I sense in the stake "losing strict control" over ward budgets, from a desire to circumvent or manipulate the percentage system being designed to an ability to seize control of excess ward funds at the end of the year. There seems to be a reluctance to change and to let go.

The work of shepherding the members clearly takes place at the ward levels. It seems that the Brethren are reflecting that in the new budgeting process. Just because the stake can find ways to manipulate the system doesn't mean they should. Some of the threads here that point out how to manipulate the system would seem counterproductive to the values being expounded: that of letting the bishops direct their wards and oversee their finances.

The stake will always have the ability to monitor the stewardship of the Lord's funds through biannual audits where they can review all accounts.

Carrying over end-of-year funds at the ward level is something new to stakes that have enjoyed that ability for a few decades. But some stake leaders now fear giving the wards the same authority--mostly out of a desire for stake use of those monies.

Something similar happened when the primary responsibility for missionary work was moved down to the wards. Stakes had a hard time letting go and many continued to function as they had before the Brethren's direction, fearing bishops would certainly not be up to the task without their continued direct supervision.

Change is a difficult thing when new (or not so new) precepts are being instituted. In this case, responsibilities are being delegated closer to the level where most of the work of the Church takes place: at the ward level. Stakes must let their ward children grow up. The stake role in oversight will not disappear, it just takes on a different meaning.
Nick Lewis
Melbourne Ward Clerk
Cocoa Florida Stake


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