mlh78 wrote:I don't understand why it won't include a feature to allow dollar amount allocations... What is the downside?
I imagine the main problem with fixed amounts is that the stake can't guarantee delivery of a fixed budget amount. As of January 1, you can estimate 2 disbursements from quarterly reports, but the second half of the year is unknown. Perhaps some of your stakes/wards are more stable than mine and perhaps you do better at estimating the yearly budget than we had in the past, but just as I came into the stake the stake as a whole had overspent the budget by quite a large amount. However, not a single ward went over their allotted budget. The problem was that attendance took an unanticipated dive during the year, drastically reducing the disbursements we received. The clerks at the time didn't catch this and the result was a nice letter to the stake president. This approach "covers your back" by never promising the wards money it can't deliver.
If you are good at estimating, I think you could still give your wards a good estimate of what their total disbursements for the year will be and you'll be close enough for them to plan the year with. If you insist on them receiving an exact amount, then following Alan_Brown's suggestion of setting all percentages to 0 and writing checks is the easiest solution.
mlh78 wrote:The problem is that for many of our units, attendance-based allocations fail to properly reflect the needs of the units. I can't imagine that we are unique in this respect.
Also, in my experience, units budget on an annual basis. The new system requires wards using an annual budget to project their allocation for the entire year and hope for the best. Generally, ward's are not as able to absorb allocation fluctuations as the stake is (which can maintain a cushion to smooth out the variations). I think the units appreciate a guaranteed allocation for the year.
Again, I think if you are good at estimating the amount of money you will receive for the entire year (and it sounds like you are - this is the current approach) you could still give your wards an idea of what the disbursement totals for the year will be. Your estimate and the actual shouldn't be too far off. If you need to give them an exact amount, tell them the amount to plan on, set the disbursement percentages to 0 and cut them checks quarterly until they have received the total you wish for them to receive.
I agree that a guaranteed amount for the year is great, but as I stated above, we really can't guarantee with any more certainty right now the amount - we can tell them to expect a certain amount, and if the disbursements go as expected, we don't have to adjust their budget. However, if attendance drops and disbursements are less than expected, you still have to either reduce their current budgets or take the hit at the stake level.
buster9750 wrote:If wards are allocated budget funds as a percentage of their attendance, I can see it being a huge temptation for wards to "bump up" their attendance figures knowing it will get them more money... But if the clerk knows their budget allocation is directly tied to the number they enter, adding 5, 10, or 15 to the attendance total might not set off any flags but it would get them a few extra dollars each quarter.
I understand that the whole idea is to have more equality but it could also get out of hand quite easily. If the stake can allocate fixed dollar amounts then wards would not be tempted to overstate their attendance numbers. In my opinion, allocating based on percentages takes away some of the stake president's control of the unit budgets.
While I don't doubt their is potential for the abuse you mention, I will naively state that I think most clerks try to fulfill their callings honestly. I don't expect widespread abuse. I think Alan_Brown's suggestion makes fixed-dollar amount budgets very feasible and simple. If a stake chooses to stay with fixed-dollar budgets, it would be easy enough to do.