This information is all well and good, except that
- It isn't in the training (which hasn't been updated in 4 years)
- It's never been broadcast more generally via MLS messages or otherwise
- "Lending" money to the Other account is counter-intuitive. You only get to the "participants pay for all or some of the expense" if budget funds are inadequate.
- The training does include a bit on resolving deficits, including deficits caused by overspending the Other account, but you don't get deficits under the above method, leading to confusion as to whether short-term Other deficits are acceptable.
- The only time deposits to Budget are described are in the context of a specific advance, where unused money is put back into the budget. This type of loan to the Other account, where the full amount is redeposited after collecting additional money, is never mentioned or described.
The only way you receive this information/guidance is if your overall Other account goes negative. Then the bishop receives an email from one or more deeply concerned persons at Accounting Services.
I may have had the very first email from the team about the Other Account being negative, it was extremely critical and overly harsh in my opinion for something to have come out of the blue like that It was FULL of bold and underlined text, stated things the handbook didn't state, etc... I begged their forgiveness and asked if in the future that Headquarters might pre-fund the activities of a Temple Open house rather than relying on a stake to go negative in their Other account...
We discussed some of my own personal thoughts on the matter. While I think there are never many good reasons for an Other account to go negative, the solution of using the Budget to write a check if the expense is well in advance of the collection (like a deposit for a camp) is an adjustment for many wards/branches that has traditionally been done with no thought that it was wrong procedure. Many wards have traditional fund raising, or are used to doing the fund raising nearer the time of the event rather than the time of the needed pre-camp funds, that is a matter of adjustment for a ward or branch. I spoke to a team lead, and then when our Other account still had not gone positive another message was sent directly to the Stake President from their Manager... again, we wondered about the Open house idea not sinking in, but whatever, we collected a bunch of money for a stake YW camp, camped it in the other account until we were reimbursed for our open house expenses... made the problem go away for now:
After having the conversation with SLC, I reviewed the training again on the other account and it was explicit in the training that you collect funds into other and then write a check out of other. Frankly, I hadn't caught it before because of the nuance'd nature, it was never listed boldly as a bullet point or put into a thou shalt, it was just casually said specifically about 3 times as I recall. So I do sympathize with them. I am, however, afraid of what using the budget in a way to 'cover' a negative amount will do... see my comments below.
Here are the items I mentioned to at least a member of the team and that team's manager:
- This has come as a shock to many, it is obvious, because you have felt the need to take this drastic action, why not warn everyone through a communication. an MLS message, the wiki, the tech board are all avenues you could've used to communicate that this would be coming. They acknowledged it being a good idea and I thought that would be a direction they headed down.
- For a stake to not go negative would probably be an issue, we often fund multi-stake regional events or share in that task among different stakes. To pre-fund an activity to stay positive and then send refunds out after or request more funds later seems a great deal of effort that seems to be a busy-work related.
- The temptation will be (and what the accounting team directed me to do) is to use the Budget in all cases, and continue in the old-style practice of collecting after the fact, or doing a fund raiser after the fact. The reason I feel this is a slippery slope is that how long before that becomes a yearly fund raiser that just gets put in the budget. If the expense was written to the budget, then the fund raiser money will be deposited into the Budget.... then it becomes a fund raiser for Budget money... This, of course, leads us back down the path that the equalized budget was meant to lead us away from originally.
I realize that the majority will never do #3, but the problem is that we are all volunteers, as thoughtful as a bishop may be, as well meaning as clerks may be, there will be a problem from this type of encouragement. Doesn't this smack of the original CUBS rollout where all accounting was done in the Income/Expense report? It almost seems now that I look back on it with this latest push, that might have been the start of eliminating the other account.