Budget:Distribution Center Charges

Discuss questions around local unit policies for budgeting, reconciling, etc. This forum should not contain specific financial or membership information.
jdlessley
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Postby jdlessley » Thu Mar 10, 2011 1:41 am

ckmcdonald wrote:One other question. What does "Bishop's Approval" mean? Does it mean he glanced at it, doesn't necessarily know if the expense is needed/appropriate but signs to take responsibility? Or, does it mean he understands clearly what the expense is for and knows that it is both needed and appropriate? If the latter, I disagree with a 30 second estimate.
The first place to look to understand the bishop's responsibility for the Lord's funds is in the Handbook. Simply put, the bishop is ultimately responsible for the collection, distribution and management of those funds. So when the bishop approves expenses/payments he should follow Church policies and procedures as well as being guided by personal revelation in carrying out those responsibilities. Those policies and procedures as established in the Handbook and policy letters are reflected in MLS programming and in audit checklists. The minimum demonstration of approval is reflected in the bishop's signature on at least one of the required documents. The audit checklist has this to say:
16. Did the bishop approve all payments?
Look at the payment documents. Make sure the bishop has approved the payments by signing at least one of the following: invoice, bill, receipt, or payment request. The bishop's signature on the MLS Detail Expense Report is adequate proof of his approval.
The level of scrutiny detail the bishop must make before he signs one or more of those documents beyond checking for the required documents is left to personal revelation, experience, and possibly, instruction from higher priesthood leadership.

The ward clerk or the ward clerk for finances, if one is called, has the responsibility to assist the bishop in managing the Lord's funds. When the clerk magnifies his calling and scrutinizes each expense and reimbursement request as though the bishop or the Lord Himself was doing so then the bishop's signature is all that is needed to finalize that approval. The bishop decides the level of scrutiny he must make before signing the approval.

How many seconds does the bishop want to take to review documents? How must trust does he have in his clerks reviewing payment requests before he sees them? How much trust does he have in auxiliary leaders who submit, or at least authorize, most budget payment requests? For my bishop there is considerable trust since each clerk and auxiliary leader was call by God. As long as each clerk and leader magnifies their calling then the policies and procedures, if followed, provide adequate checks for human error.

I counselled with my bishop after my last post in this thread. We discussed the on-line distribution center orders and how those were to be handled. After looking at the requirement for the bishop's signature on at least one of the documents, and one of those may be the MLS Detail Expense Report, he agreed to at least initialling the distribution center invoice packing slip. He felt that since all unit DC orders are delivered to his home address he has a good handle on what is happening and that any improper spending or misappropriation could be easily spotted. If required, any items he did not want to approve could be sent back and refunded.
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ckmcdonald
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Postby ckmcdonald » Thu Mar 10, 2011 5:07 pm

That all sounded good, and true, but I'm not sure it answered my question. Unless you are saying that how long it takes the Bishop to review an expense is dependent on how quick he can receive revelation. ;) I don't think I'll ask my Bishop why he takes so much longer than Allen's Bishop! ;) (no disrespected intended of course)

One more question and I will promise to go away (for awhile). Is the written policy that all expenses be approved by the Bishop before the disbursement is made? Or is after OK?

Quicky
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Postby Quicky » Thu Mar 10, 2011 8:07 pm

Here's how I do it: The Stake President or one of the Stake Presidency (incl. Stake Clerk and/or Stake Executive Secretary will place bills or requests for reimbursement in my box at the Stake offices. If it is a bill, say for internet services for the wards, I will make out a request for reimbursement myself. This request for reimbursement has a place for the ck#, category from which the funds will be drawn (which Auxiliary, for instance) invoice numbers and dates and other bill identifiers plus amounts for each receipt and a total. At the bottom of the form there is a line for identification of the person writing the check as well as a line for the Stake President's signature as well as the date. Also a place for the person requesting reimbursement to sign the request.

If it is an incoming bill I will make out the check and complete the request for reimbursement, address the envelope, staple the receipt(s) to the rfr form and paperclip the whole piece together. If I have a specific question about whether or not an expense falls within the parameters it must fall within, I will either hold it and ask the Stake President directly or will make out a sticky note with the question where his signature will be when he signs off on the expense. Just because I have written the check and made out the paperwork does not obligate him to signing it. It is simple to void an expense.

Something I do is to make sure that multiple receipts do add to the number requested on the rfr. Sometimes the annual Stake Father/Son campout can involve a significant number of receipts, for instance. In addition, sometimes people will get some activity items while they have made a run for town to shop (2 wards have a 90 mile roundtrip) for their own groceries. They will circle the items which they purchased for an aux. activity and turn in their entire shopping receipt. They never seem to include the sales tax they paid for the items because it is in the totaled amount at the end and they don't break it out. I will add the totals they have circled, multiply x .06 (our sales tax rate, 6%), and add that to the total requested on the rfr. I then note the change to bring it to the Stake Presidents attention and as a note to me should the individual request information as to why the total was different than they thought it would be. Usually it is only fractions of a dollar but sometimes it is a few dollars, say for the food bill on a 5-day long girl's camp.

Thus far this method has worked well. The Stake President usually gets 2 looks at a bill. I know who the aux. leaders are and can usually see what seems appropriate. I don't know whether the Stake President needs to 'pre-approve' a bill prior to writing the check. It seems as if that is the question that is being asked somewhere above. Nevertheless, when everything is presented to him he does indeed get a chance to approve a bill prior to its being paid. I

I have asked the entire Stake presidency to please keep me apprised of any distribution center orders which are or have been made so that when I see the DC invoice I will be able to know which aux. to transfer $ from. We do not budget a line item for the DC as we spend so little there. Anything spent there will be billed to the specific aux. which ordered. The amount spent on the ward level, with annual curriculum orders YW Medallions, etc. will need to be tracked more closely. I do not fill out a rfr for each DC charge, I merely note the date I made the transfer and who got their budget charged. KQ

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ckmcdonald
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Postby ckmcdonald » Thu Mar 10, 2011 9:37 pm

Quicky wrote:Here's how I do it: The Stake President or one of the Stake Presidency (incl. Stake Clerk and/or Stake Executive Secretary will place bills or requests for reimbursement in my box at the Stake offices. If it is a bill, say for internet services for the wards, I will make out a request for reimbursement myself. This request for reimbursement has a place for the ck#, category from which the funds will be drawn (which Auxiliary, for instance) invoice numbers and dates and other bill identifiers plus amounts for each receipt and a total. At the bottom of the form there is a line for identification of the person writing the check as well as a line for the Stake President's signature as well as the date. Also a place for the person requesting reimbursement to sign the request.


This is exactly how we do it other than we don't ask for the requesters autograph. Why is that needed?

Quicky wrote:If it is an incoming bill I will make out the check and complete the request for reimbursement, address the envelope, staple the receipt(s) to the rfr form and paperclip the whole piece together. If I have a specific question about whether or not an expense falls within the parameters it must fall within, I will either hold it and ask the Stake President directly or will make out a sticky note with the question where his signature will be when he signs off on the expense. Just because I have written the check and made out the paperwork does not obligate him to signing it. It is simple to void an expense.


We don't do this ... but I like the idea. Sounds like it would possibly work well for us.

Quicky wrote:Something I do is to make sure that multiple receipts do add to the number requested on the rfr. Sometimes the annual Stake Father/Son campout can involve a significant number of receipts, for instance. In addition, sometimes people will get some activity items while they have made a run for town to shop (2 wards have a 90 mile roundtrip) for their own groceries. They will circle the items which they purchased for an aux. activity and turn in their entire shopping receipt. They never seem to include the sales tax they paid for the items because it is in the totaled amount at the end and they don't break it out. I will add the totals they have circled, multiply x .06 (our sales tax rate, 6%), and add that to the total requested on the rfr. I then note the change to bring it to the Stake Presidents attention and as a note to me should the individual request information as to why the total was different than they thought it would be. Usually it is only fractions of a dollar but sometimes it is a few dollars, say for the food bill on a 5-day long girl's camp.


We do likewise. Over half my multi-receipt RFR's are added up wrong or the tax calculation is incorrect.

Quicky wrote:Thus far this method has worked well. The Stake President usually gets 2 looks at a bill. I know who the aux. leaders are and can usually see what seems appropriate. I don't know whether the Stake President needs to 'pre-approve' a bill prior to writing the check. It seems as if that is the question that is being asked somewhere above. Nevertheless, when everything is presented to him he does indeed get a chance to approve a bill prior to its being paid. I


I would say a Stake Pres approval before the check is disbursed meets the requirement - I like it.

It's a requirement that both signers of the check review the paperwork, including receipts (I believe). Who signs the checks and are both reviewing the paperwork?

Do you then have the Stake Pres mail the disbursements, or does he return them to you?

Quicky wrote:I have asked the entire Stake presidency to please keep me apprised of any distribution center orders which are or have been made so that when I see the DC invoice I will be able to know which aux. to transfer $ from. We do not budget a line item for the DC as we spend so little there. Anything spent there will be billed to the specific aux. which ordered. The amount spent on the ward level, with annual curriculum orders YW Medallions, etc. will need to be tracked more closely. I do not fill out a rfr for each DC charge, I merely note the date I made the transfer and who got their budget charged. KQ


This is similar to our procedure. If I understood you, you are not getting approval before the DC orders, which according the this thread is not within guidelines. I mentioned this just today to my WC and left it to him to resolve if he wants to conform and how. He does all the ordering so I have no control whatsoever.

Thanks for your comments - it's helpful to hear what others are doing.

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Postby Quicky » Thu Mar 10, 2011 10:52 pm

The Distribution Center stuff bothers me a little bit. I am not anal-retentive about money but I am a little of a tight-wad at heart. Usually our DC charges are made by the Stake Executive Secretary and the first I hear of them are when I get the paid invoice from the Stake President's mail. When I mentioned that I make a note about the expense I neglected to say that the note is on the receipt from the DC. Usually (always?) the Executive Sec. makes the order after one of their Presidency meetings. I just wish I knew the charges were coming so I don't get surprises on my I and E report. I monitor that pretty closely (2 or 3 times a week). As a rule I don't want to live at the Stake Center. I have been there way too many hours with CUBS stuff. The great part of being a finance clerk is that you pretty much get to choose your hours. I usually go late when there are no interruptions, put Rush Limbaugh in my I-Pod in my (personally owned) docking station and spend a couple hours without distractions and phone calls. What's not to like about that! KQ


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