Reconciling the Budget Category

Discuss questions around local unit policies for budgeting, reconciling, etc. This forum should not contain specific financial or membership information.
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aebrown
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Reconciling the Budget Category

Postby aebrown » Mon Dec 17, 2007 9:30 am

The reconciliation process in MLS is concerned only with the Missionary and Other accounts. However, in most wards there is more activity in the Budget category, yet there is no process recommended for reconciling the Budget category. Yes, I know that the reconciliation process does allow you to check off Budget checks that are cleared, but since Budget checks always have a corresponding transfer, the reconciliation process cannot detect if you have checked off cleared checks properly, or if any Budget entries are missing.

Budget checks are entered in MLS and transmitted, so there's not much of a possibility of problems cropping up with checks. However, direct debits to the Budget category (such as Distribution Center charges) have to be entered manually into MLS. This creates the possibility of missing or incorrect entries. If, for example, a ward neglects to enter into MLS a $600 Distribution Center charge for their annual curriculum order, they may be operating under a false assumption that they have more Budget funds available to spend than is actually the case.

It would be helpful to have a Budget reconciliation process included in MLS. However, it is possible to do such a reconciliation manually, and I have recommended such a process to each ward financial clerk in our stake (and I follow this process at the stake level). Basically, it involves looking at the YTD Total Disbursements and other related lines at the end of the Church Unit Financial Statement, printing a Budget Summary Report from MLS for a custom date range of Jan 1 to the ending statement date, and comparing the numbers.

Does anyone out there do this kind of thing? Do you think it would be useful in MLS?

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cottrells
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Postby cottrells » Wed Dec 19, 2007 3:39 pm

Alan makes a good suggestion. In the UK we don't have the same problem. Distribution charges are automatically applied to MLS, but it would still be useful to be able to use MLS to reconcile all the Financial transactions in MLS with the monthly unit financial reports. Currently this has to be a manual process.

However the main improvement I would like to see in MLS Finance is for the stake system to be able to see all the ward and branch information (like you can with membership records). I serve as a stake clerk and this would help me help the ward and branch clerks understand what has happened with their accounts without the need for them to extract and send me the information or travel to meet with them when it is convenient for both them and me. At the moment I receive a copy of all the monthly unit financial reports for all the units in the stake. However some of the information is summarised and it is particularly difficult to see what transfers have taken place in the other funds that are not automatically swept and remain in the unit month to month. Proper understanding and use of the other category is a common weakness in many (if not all) of the units I have knowledge of.

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Postby gregneg » Sat Feb 09, 2008 1:48 pm

I personally have almost developed a "why bother" attitude on budgets. It's spending some-one else's money anyway. As I understand it, the Stake or District is the one who actually receives the budget money, which they allocate according to unit needs/ $ available.

We have received "how to calculate" instructions based on head counts --- with only history to tell us what a "head" is worth. I have a spreadsheet estimate given to us from above over a year ago to go on.

Until MLS can/does give the units information regarding their actual allocations, you really have nothing solid to reconcile. The best you can do, is make those "other" entries that you see when you reconcile your statement. MLS *does* keep track of your budget balances --- starting with your best guess allocation figure --- then modified by expenses.

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aebrown
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Budget allocations

Postby aebrown » Sat Feb 09, 2008 4:01 pm

elderj1 wrote:I personally have almost developed a "why bother" attitude on budgets. It's spending some-one else's money anyway.


Budget funds come from the sacred tithing funds of the Church, including the "widow's mite." I personally think we should be very careful in how we spend and track budget funds -- precisely because it is someone else's money.

elderj1 wrote:As I understand it, the Stake or District is the one who actually receives the budget money, which they allocate according to unit needs/ $ available. We have received "how to calculate" instructions based on head counts --- with only history to tell us what a "head" is worth. I have a spreadsheet estimate given to us from above over a year ago to go on.


The stake receives detailed information from the Church every quarter. The stake knows exactly how many people in each unit were counted in the categories that contributed to the budget allocation. The amount allocated for sacrament meeting attendance, and youth, older Primary, and YSA attendance are precisely detailed in communications from Church Headquarters. So the stake knows to the penny where the budget allocation came from.

The stake then tells the wards exactly what their budget allocations are. Here the stakes have some latittude. Some stakes inform wards at the beginning of the year exactly what their annual allocation will be; others tell the wards only on a quarterly basis. In this latter case, wards have to estimate what their final allocation will be. But in either case, wards and stakes are required by policy to define their budget for expenses for the year, living within the budget allocation. If a stake is not promptly communicating allocations to the wards, then the stake is failing in this responsiblity.

elderj1 wrote:Until MLS can/does give the units information regarding their actual allocations, you really have nothing solid to reconcile. The best you can do, is make those "other" entries that you see when you reconcile your statement. MLS *does* keep track of your budget balances --- starting with your best guess allocation figure --- then modified by expenses.


I respectfully disagree that you have nothing to reconcile. There are YTD figures on the CUFS that can be used for reconciliation. It's not a straightforward as for the Other and Missionary categories, but it can be done. The reconciliation process is to make sure that the expenses in MLS match those on the CUFS -- it really has nothing to do with the allocation (except to the extent that accurate accounting helps you stay within the allocation).

Also, a ward's allocation figure may be an estimate early in the year if the stake informs wards of their allocation on a quarterly bases, but by the fourth quarter those figures should be exact. Under the current implementation, it is the requirement of the stake to give the units information regarding their actual allocations. It takes less than a minute to enter that figure into MLS, 1 or 4 times per year, so just having MLS receive that number isn't really going to make that much difference.

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MLS accounting, budget reconcile?

Postby gregneg » Mon Feb 11, 2008 7:55 pm

Alan_Brown wrote: The stake then tells the wards exactly what their budget allocations are. Here the stakes have some latittude.
.


There in lies part of the "challenge" that I was venting about. Our mail system has in recent times delivered audit packages from HQ **after** they were due to be returned to HQ. (yea, I know --MLS has that fixed now) I have never been a Stake Level clerk, but I have been an auditor, and a local unit clerk. There really needs to be a way to get those figures from the District/ Stake to the Branch/Ward CLERK. It is really difficult to hold someone totally accountable for ??????? :confused:



My own take on MLS (based on my own 70's Fortran training, and being self employed) is we have programmers who are trying to program a double-entry system under accountants directions (and they don't speak the same language)------ a system that is being used by some individuals who don't even have personal checking accounts. The Clerk/Bishop has local money (Other, and Ward Missionary) --- can draw on HQ/ District/Stake money (welfare needs and budget) --- and is supposed to keep track/ maintain accountability when others also have access to the same accounts. Toss in a bit of variable currency exchange rate into the mix for a little added interest. CUFS and MLS are not a matched set :rolleyes: --- the clerks job would be considerably less confusing if they were.

But I digress --- we do give regular budget reports to the unit leaders. The money spent is checked against CUFS monthly--- the balances are reported as "best guess" due to the allocation question.

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Postby opee » Mon Feb 11, 2008 8:27 pm

elderj1 wrote:I have never been a Stake Level clerk, but I have been an auditor, and a local unit clerk...


Remember that sometimes there is a "sense of humor" in callings...you might get what you didn't wish for and find yourself as the Stake Clerk ;)

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Budget reports

Postby carlscpa » Tue Apr 01, 2008 3:00 pm

Our stake allocates the ward budget amounts at the beginning of the year based upon the previous years sac. meeting attendance plus additional amounts for YM-YW & primary. This gives the ward an exact amount which has not needed to be changed for 7 years since growth is minimal. Since the stake gets a copy of each ward's financial statement, it is easy to monitor their expenditures and is a topic of discussion when the Stake Presidency meets with each Bishop monthly. As a ward finance clerk, I print out a detailed budget report for each organization which is handed out each ward council meeting. The Bishop requires any reimbursement request to contain the beginning budget amoount, the expenditures to date, and the remaining balance after the current expense. This is especially helpful when new organization presidents are called.

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Postby Lynn N-p40 » Thu Jul 31, 2008 4:35 pm

Would you be so kind as to instruct me how to input those allotments into MLS. As a added question, can the inputed allotment help to tell our ward if our budget spending is within our over-all allotment? Thank you.

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Thu Jul 31, 2008 5:47 pm

Lynn N wrote:Would you be so kind as to instruct me how to input those allotments into MLS. As a added question, can the inputed allotment help to tell our ward if our budget spending is within our over-all allotment? Thank you.


You can look in the MLS Help under View/Edit Budget, which says the following:

To reach the screen where you can view or edit budget amounts, begin at the main MLS screen. On the Finances menu, click More. On the Budget menu, click View/Edit Budget.

On this screen you may view budget amounts that you have allocated to different categories, or you may change the budget allocations. Note the following:
  • The Budget Allocation field at the bottom of the screen shows the total amount of budget for your ward.
  • The Amount fields show the amount of budget allocated to each of the categories and subcategories.
  • The With Subcategories field shows how much budget is allocated to a category, including all subcategories attached to it.
  • The Total field shows the total amount of budget you have allocated to all the categories and subcategories. (The Total field may appear at the bottom of a scrolled page.)
  • The Difference field shows the remaining amount of budget you may still allocate, if needed.
To change the total budget amount that has been allocated to your unit:
  1. In the Budget Allocation field, click the amount.
  2. Enter the correct total budget your ward has been given, and press Enter.
You may change or add to this amount each time you receive an allocation, which may be yearly, quarterly, or more often, depending on where you are located.

---- End Help File ---

If you need to add or update the Budget subcategories, see the MLS help file under Add/Update Categories.

To see how your expenses compare against your budget allocation, run the Budget Report. You can either do a summary (which lists each subcategory, with the budget, income, expenses, balance, and percent of budget spent, and should fit on one page), or a detail report (which prints the budget allocation, every check, and the remaining balance, with one page per subcategory).

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Budget Category adjustment error...

Postby cdawardclerk-p40 » Sat Dec 13, 2008 11:17 am

After printing out a recent budget report I noticed that several DC and Corporate Express orders were assigned to the parent category 'Budget'. These are the adjustments that are made to MLS that show in the Misc. section of the monthly Ward Financial Statement. I remember recently reading somewhere in one of the forums that this should not be done...I think I should have made the adjustment to our 'Ward Administration' category. The parent category 'Budget' shows a negative amount and the 'Ward Administration' budget category is not accurately reflecting the truse balance.

Can I go back and change the categories without having to make further adjustments? Do I need to notify SLC Headquarters if I make these changes or do I just 'Transmit/Receive' after the changes are made?

I appreciate the help and I am learning more every week from these forums...I only wish that I would have known about LDS Tech over a year ago when I received my calling.


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