Monitoring acceptable use of F.O. expenses at the Stake level using CFS

Discuss questions around local unit policies for budgeting, reconciling, etc. This forum should not contain specific financial or membership information.
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Monitoring acceptable use of F.O. expenses at the Stake level using CFS

Postby atticusewig » Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:24 am

Looking for tips on monitoring F.O. disbursements
using the Consolidated Financial Summary, and
what is or is not acceptable.

Here are the current errors/flags I look for:

Is the payee and the recipient the same name ?
Is the payee a relative ?
Is the payee a ward leader seeking reimbursement instead a check to the vendor ?
Does the purpose provide details of the expense ? ("F/O assistance" is poor documentation) ?
Does the amount look reasonable ? (a water bill over $500 better be in the desert)

Questions I had:

1) What the guidelines for assigning to Recipients ? Specifically, I often see a Water
Bill that is paid for on behalf of the husband one month, and the wife the next
month. Is there currently a guideline that the Recipient should be the Head of
Household for example (or at least for the household expenses) ?

2) What is not allowed by policy ? I remember reading once that the payment of
consumer credit card debt was forbidden, but don't remember what else is.
Some, I'd be interested in knowing for sure include:

a) Bail / Traffic tickets / legal fees (basically costs for the commission of a crime)
b) Impound Fees
c) Costs to reclaim property - Payments to self-storage, pawn shops, etc.
d) Insurance. Is it different if it is state-mandated minimum coverage ?
e) Gasoline/Car repair/vehicle inspection/registration.

3) What are the maximums without First Presidency approval ? Is it one time,
or accumulated ? For example, I remember hearing a while back that there
was a $5,000 max/yr for medical expenses. Does this mean no single expense
can exceed $5,000, or that the total of medical expenses for the year cannot
exceed $5,000 ? Does it reset at year-end, or is it the "rolling" year (i.e. can't
exceed $5,000 over any 12-month period ?). How about "Housing" or "Other" ?

4) Is anyone at CHQ looking at the data ? For example, if I see that a clerk has
classified an Electric Bill as "Other", do I need to tell him to adjust it so it is
"Utilities" ? Or are these classifications solely for local reporting ? Continuing
with the classification question, how do you classify repairs ? If the Air
Conditioner is repaired, do you call it "Other" or an "Utility" expense or do you
consider it repairing a part of the house and call it a "Housing" expense ? Do you
count counseling visits to LDS Family services as "Medical" expenses, and if
so, do they accumulate against a maximum medical disbursement limit ?

- Atticus

Senior Member
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Location: USA

Postby crislapi » Thu Sep 08, 2011 9:44 am

Wow - nobody wants to tackle this one. I can't quote or give you official policy statements, but I'll share my thoughts.

1) There is no guideline I'm aware of that it be the head of household. Only that it be the person being assisted. For a family, it would make sense it be someone consistent to make it easier to track, but it might not be worth the effort.

2) The principle is to help short-term so the person can become self-sufficient long term. That being said, I would be extremely uncomfortable with a. All the rest would depend. If I were uncomfortable paying for something, I would counsel the bishop to pay for something else like rent and have the member pay for the questionable item with the money they would have spent on rent. A lot of these issues deal with cars. If the person can't work without the car, it follows that short-term help to recover, fix or otherwise make useable the vehicle will contribute to the long-term self-sufficiency of the member, it is likely worth the expense. Thankfully, it is the bishop and stake president's call, not mine. I feel some additional information might be contained in the presiding bishopric letter referenced in the audit. I've sent an email to LUS asking if they could send me a copy.

3) I know the ward has a $2000 limit. At that point, they must obtain approval from the stake president. My stake president has trained that it is cumulative, but again, I have no reference for that. I do not have any answers for your other questions.

4) Occasionally we will receive a notice from the church auditing department informing us a FO check was miscategorized along with instructions on how to correct it. It would seem, then, if you are catching them that it would make sense to instruct your clerks to correct it. Utilities, in my opinion, are water, electricity, gas. Housing, in my opinion, is rent or mortgage payments. Repairs go the same place you'd put repairs on a car - other. Got off the phone with LUS about counseling. They said they should be categorized as Medical. Again, I have no answers for your other questions.

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Postby dannykos » Thu Sep 08, 2011 4:08 pm

crislapi wrote:3) I know the ward has a $2000 limit. At that point, they must obtain approval from the stake president.

CHB1 5.1.2 state that if the total Church payment of a needy member’s medical expenses is expected to exceed $5,000, the stake president’s approval is required.

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