LDS Catalog Expenses

Discuss questions around local unit policies for budgeting, reconciling, etc. This forum should not contain specific financial or membership information.
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PNMarkW2
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LDS Catalog Expenses

Postby PNMarkW2 » Sun Jun 28, 2009 5:46 pm

Our Financial Clerk tells me that in previous years our Ward orders to the Distribution Center (LDSCatalog.com) would appear as a charge against our Ward, and he would enter a reconciling entry against the correct Ward Budget category to balance those entries. These would be orders for normal Ward stuff, manuals, supplies, etc.

This year he tells me that none, not a single order, totaling around $600 to date, have been charged against our Ward. So he has had nothing to reconcile so far this year, leaving our Ward Budget looking much healthier then we believe it really is.

This would seem to us to be an issue in Salt Lake where they have not charged our Ward, but when we brought it to their attention they wanted nothing to do with it.

I hope I explained this clearly.

Has anyone else experienced anything like this? And if so, was there a resolution?
~Mark
Ward Clerk
Colonial Heights Ward
Portland Oregon Stake

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Sun Jun 28, 2009 6:42 pm

PNMarkW2 wrote:Our Financial Clerk tells me that in previous years our Ward orders to the Distribution Center (LDSCatalog.com) would appear as a charge against our Ward, and he would enter a reconciling entry against the correct Ward Budget category to balance those entries. These would be orders for normal Ward stuff, manuals, supplies, etc.

This year he tells me that none, not a single order, totaling around $600 to date, have been charged against our Ward. So he has had nothing to reconcile so far this year, leaving our Ward Budget looking much healthier then we believe it really is.

This would seem to us to be an issue in Salt Lake where they have not charged our Ward, but when we brought it to their attention they wanted nothing to do with it.


I think there is some confusion about what "charged our ward" means. The Church will indeed make a debit (charge) to your Budget account for items purchased through Distribution Services. This will show up on your Church Unit Financial Statement.

But nothing will show up in MLS automatically (at least not in the US/Canada). You have to enter those expenses manually. The best way to do it is to go to Enter Expenses, and check the "Not a check" checkbox so that you can enter the reference number from the CUFS.

You might want to review the Reconciling the Budget Category wiki article for a technique that will help you make sure you have not failed to enter any of these automatic debits into MLS. Otherwise, as you have noted, your MLS Budget balance will look deceptively rosy.

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PNMarkW2
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Postby PNMarkW2 » Sun Jun 28, 2009 9:59 pm

Alan_Brown wrote:But nothing will show up in MLS automatically


Thank you for your reply, but according to our Financial Clerk (of at least 20 years) it use to. But I'll take your answer and review it with him, he'll swear it's a new procedure, but if it gets us where we need to be I'll be happy with it.

Alan_Brown wrote:your MLS Budget balance will look deceptively rosy.


Actually it looks halfway normal, but that's only because the Stake has kept more of our budget then they've given us. But that's another story.

Thanks
~Mark
Ward Clerk
Colonial Heights Ward
Portland Oregon Stake

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"For a list of all the ways technology has failed to improve the quality of life, please press three."
---Alice Kahn

crislapi
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Postby crislapi » Sun Jun 28, 2009 10:15 pm

PNMarkW2 wrote:Our Financial Clerk tells me that in previous years our Ward orders to the Distribution Center (LDSCatalog.com) would appear as a charge against our Ward, and he would enter a reconciling entry against the correct Ward Budget category to balance those entries. These would be orders for normal Ward stuff, manuals, supplies, etc.


I understood this differently. My interpretation was that the clerk would enter the expense during the reconcile process, most likely using "Other Items" instead of using "Enter Expenses". Not preferable, in my opinion, but functional. That way, the statement and MLS ending balances would be different the month they were charged and the reconcile could not be completed until the missing expense was entered.

If everything has reconciled fine (no Temporary Items), that would mean the problem is the ward still hasn't been charged for the items. Of course, the first step would be to go back and review the statements to verify this. Don't forget to go back to 2008 as well since the curriculum order is supposed to be placed between September and November. If it was, then this year's budget should look rosy right now - you were charged last year for this year's items. This year's budget will get hit in September-November when next year's curriculum order is placed.

That being said, I should mention that one of our wards is dealing with the reverse problem - they have been charged for items they never purchased. Apparently their unit number is the same as the purchase id of a church department. Someone had to decide which one to charge and they, unfortunately, chose incorrectly. We have been working for 6 months now to correct the problem.

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Mon Jun 29, 2009 4:36 am

crislapi wrote:I understood this differently. My interpretation was that the clerk would enter the expense during the reconcile process, most likely using "Other Items" instead of using "Enter Expenses". Not preferable, in my opinion, but functional. That way, the statement and MLS ending balances would be different the month they were charged and the reconcile could not be completed until the missing expense was entered.


First of all, it is true that the MLS expense records for direct debits can be entered as Other Items during the reconciliation process. The result can be the same. But I always counsel clerks to use the Enter Expenses method for two reasons:

  1. There is no question what the proper sign (plus/minus) is for an Expense. When you enter an Other Item, you have to remember to enter a negative amount. I have seen many clerks neglect the minus sign, and then you have a bit of a mess to fix.
  2. Using Enter Expenses reinforces that these are expenses just like any other (only they don't have an associated paper check).
crislapi wrote:That way, the statement and MLS ending balances would be different the month they were charged and the reconcile could not be completed until the missing expense was entered.


This is not correct. These expenses are typically in the Budget category. The Budget category has nothing to do with the normal reconciliation process being in balance or not. You can omit expenses entirely, fail to check off checks that cleared, erroneously check of checks that have not yet cleared, or have wrong amounts, and none of those errors will cause the reconciliation to be out of balance. That is because the every expense in the Budget category has a compensating transaction that immediately reimburses it (as far as the actual bank balance is concerned).

The ending balance for Budget should always be zero, and nothing you do or don't do with direct debits will change that. Having all the appropriate zero numbers at the the bottom of the reconciliation screen tells you nothing about whether or not direct debits have been entered into MLS.

crislapi
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Postby crislapi » Mon Jun 29, 2009 9:45 am

Alan_Brown wrote:... But I always counsel clerks to use the Enter Expenses method for two reasons:


I would add a third. When you use "Enter Expenses", then the expense is visible when you use "View/Update Expenses". When you use "Other Items", it is entered as a transfer and therefore does not show up in expenses. This minor difference has led to several wards I work with having entered an expense twice.

Alan_Brown wrote: This is not correct. These expenses are typically in the Budget category. The Budget category has nothing to do with the normal reconciliation process being in balance or not.....


As always, Alan_Brown is correct. Sorry, I've been dealing with an issue in the Other category and misspoke. Main point though, I understood that your clerk was using Other Items to enter these expenses. As Alan_Brown has pointed out, it is possible to reconcile without entering the expense so it might be worth going back and reviewing old statements to see if in fact you ever were charged.

Again, I'd like to point out that curriculum orders should be placed by September 15. If it is, then the expense typically shows up in your October or November statement. This year's budget should therefore still be "rosy".

One more thought - we are using the same manuals (JS) as last year. The expense was split over 2 years. Half was paid last year, half was paid this year. That may also be why your budget isn't as low as it's been in years past. Again, just thoughts.


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