MLS 3.7.1 Intra-stake transfers

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atticusewig
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MLS 3.7.1 Intra-stake transfers

Postby atticusewig » Thu Jun 26, 2014 7:11 am

One of the new features of MLS 3.7.1 is the ability
to transfer funds between units within a stake. It is
handled in the "Enter Transfers" screen, and requires
a stake presidency/bishopric member and a clerk to
authorize (much like the donation process).

As I experimented with the new feature, I noticed
that you can only transfer into like accounts, and
only to the top-level of the other unit. For example,
a transfer from Budget: Young Men to help share the
cost of an activity shared by the young men of several
units can only be deposited into the Budget:Budget Allocations
account of the other unit. Likewise, if the stake wanted to
collect funds raised by units to pay for a youth conference, the
ward would transfer it into the Stake's top Authorized Member Finance
Activities account.

By limiting the destination of the funds to the top-level accounts I
believe the following:

1) With the exception of a Stake using the method to distribute Budget Allocations
to wards, every transaction will require two transfers. One from the sending
unit into the top-level account, and one from the receiving unit to put the received
funds into the proper subcategory of that account.

2) It erodes the idea of distinct purpose of Other/AMFA subcategories. If money
is transferred into a ward that should go to AMFA: Cub Scout Day Camp into the
top-level account, and somehow costs come under the expected amount, then
the funds might be partially moved to cover costs, with the remainder treated
as extra money to be used elsewhere. To illustrate, let's imagine three wards
attend cub scout day camp together, and the camp fee is $50 a boy.

Creek Ward has 4 boys and sends $200 from AMFA: Cub Scout Day Camp
River Ward has 5 boys and sends $250 from AMFA: Cub Pack Fund
Lake Ward has 1 boy collects $50 into AMFA: Day Camp and receives the funds from the
other two wards

The bill comes due, but includes a note that because 10 boys attended, there is
a $25 discount. Let's look at the transactions:
Creek Ward -> Lake Ward adds $200 to Lake Ward's AMFA:Other top account
River Ward -> Lake Ward adds $250 to Lake Ward's AMFA:Other top account
Balances for Lake Ward would then be:
AMFA:AMFA - $450
AMFA: Day Camp - $ 50
A check is written to the day camp for $475 out of AMFA:Day camp
Balances are now:
AMFA:AMFA - $450
AMFA: Day Camp - (-$425)

Now, if a ward transfers $425 into AMFA:Day Camp from AMFA:AMFA to
cover costs. The result would be $25 left in AMFA:AMFA that would
appear as funds not designated for a specific purpose, and a Bishop
might be tempted to allocate it to AMFA: Girls Camp which came up
short, rather than return the funds as per church policy.

3) You cannot cross account types. While I understand the reason why this
is probably a good thing, consider this scenario: Same three wards are going
to Day Camp, but let's say the Creek Ward Bishop wants to use Budget
Funds to pay for his cub scouts to attend rather than collect $50 from each
boy's family. The current system won't allow you to transfer the funds from say
Budget:Primary into anything but the other unit's Budget:BudgetAllocations
account. I didn't experiment if locally you can transfer budget funds into
AMFA: Other accounts, but even if you could, I imagine it would be an audit
red-flag. So when it came time to pay the check to the council, the Lake
Ward would need to write a mixed-mode check with some money coming
from Budget:BudgetAllocations and the rest from AMFA: Day Camp.

Perhaps it is a limitation of the underlying banking system, but it would be nice
to see the intrastake transfer feature refined to allow clearer accounting.

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aebrown
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Location: Sandy, Utah

Re: MLS 3.7.1 Intra-stake transfers

Postby aebrown » Thu Jun 26, 2014 7:56 am

atticusewig wrote:With the exception of a Stake using the method to distribute Budget Allocations to wards, every transaction will require two transfers. One from the sending unit into the top-level account, and one from the receiving unit to put the received funds into the proper subcategory of that account.

It makes sense to me that the transfers can only be to top-level accounts. Any other alternative would require the transferring unit to have knowledge of the subcategories of the receiving unit. From a privacy standpoint, the transferring unit has no right to know that much detail about the receiving unit's finances; from a practical standpoint, it would require a significant amount of code and data transfer to handle the syncing of the category information among units, which seems like a waste of effort.

Although I suppose you're technically correct about the two transfers, I wouldn't do it that way. If I were the receiving unit, I would simply recategorize the transaction (yes, that creates a transfer under the covers, but that transaction is invisible to a large extent). That seems like cleaner accounting, since the original transfer transaction would then have the correct destination category.

atticusewig wrote:2) It erodes the idea of distinct purpose of Other/AMFA subcategories.
3) You cannot cross account types.

Although these are indeed issues, they are nothing new. Units face most of those same issues when dealing with checks. The one exception, I suppose, is that when a unit receives a check from another unit, they have the option of depositing it in a different top-level category (or even multiple categories). But in most cases I've seen, the received funds are deposited into some AMFA category, and the clerk deals with writing checks from AMFA and Budget categories when the costs exceed the AMFA funds.


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