Grace Episcopal Alexandria Lurches Towards Financial Crisis
Date: September 08, 2019 09:30PM
As I’ve said many times, Grace Episcopal’s existing cost structure is unsustainable. Thanks to the debt incurred for the recently completed HVAC project, as well as the parish’s continuing willingness to live above its means and its refusal to save, things are looking grim for the 2020 budget. This is the result that, in 2014, I warned Bob Malm was looming, possibly as early as 2016 if expenses were not curtailed.
Specifically, as of right now, the parish appears poised for income of $975,000, expenses of $1,206,000, and a net deficit (get ready!) of $231,000.
Variables used to reach these results:
$70,000 diocesan pledge
$9,000 reduction in pledges over 2019 figures. In light of the length of Bob Malm’s tenure, the decline could prove much greater
$80,000 reduction in salaries, primarily attributable to alignment of interim’s salary with local norms, or $130,000 annually
$70,000 in debt service
$50,000 income from trust
$50,000 in maintenance (note that this covers janitorial supplies (paper products, etc) for both the church and school, which then reimburses half the cost to the church. Thus, according to the church’s customary financial reporting, nowhere near the full $50,000 actually is available for repairs or maintenance.
$20,000 in search expenses
$10,000 invested in management reserve
A 2% increase in most operating expenses to adjust for inflation.
Continued zero funding for the school beyond cost sharing, which already benefits the school.
Of course, these figures don’t leave room for contingencies, such as extensive snow removal in the event of a severe winter, or burst pipes. (As I have pointed out many times, copper pipes do not have an indefinite life span. All the original plumbing in the building is at actuarial end of life.)
Clearly, church staff recognizes the challenges ahead, and director of music Richard Newman (a delightful person and wonderful musician) has been wise in performing concerts in venues around the country. Similarly, it may no longer be possible for the parish to maintain full-time staff for the parish administrator and family ministries positions, or the associate rector position, for that matter.
In a situation such as this, there are no easy solutions, and it is vital that the parish begin to learn to save for the future. But no matter how things unfold there are some tough decisions and difficult times ahead.
And yes, before folks ask, I will continue to protest the church’s conduct, even after Bob Malm’s departure.
Bob Malm has stated in writing that the vestry and other parish leadership joined with him in its decision to take legal action against me, with the tacit approval of the diocese. So Bob Malm’s perjury, his decision to try to drag a dying woman into court, his decision to include Mike in his vendetta, and the various fabrications and inflammatory rhetoric in Jeff Chiow’s legal pleadings — none of these have been repudiated by the parish or vestry. Thus, it is appropriate that I continue to make public my experiences.
And that is exactly what I will do.