Finance Committee FAQ2

Budget and Reporting System

Currently Oheb Sholom maintains separate accounting functions for (1) the Lakin Preschool, performed as a free service by the staff at the Jewish Federation of Reading and (2) all remaining Oheb Sholom activities, which fall under the purview of our bookkeeper, Beth Bruck. For this discussion we will address the Oheb Sholom activities exclusive of the preschool.

The budget and reporting system is implemented within the Temple’s management software, Rakefet. For budget reporting and tracking, we have developed and refined financial reports that only deal with operating revenues and expenses. As a result, we report monthly on 116 accounts, a subset of the 489 accounts contained in our Chart of Accounts. As an example of excluded accounts, we run Mt. Sinai Cemetery and the Cemetery Fund. They are a part of our books, but since we have little control of the sale of burial lots or the number of burials and their attendant costs, we don’t include these accounts for our routine budgeting activities.

The first step in budget preparation is line by line budgeting. We segregate the operating accounts into the committees and/or individuals responsible so that the most knowledgeable people can estimate for next year. For example, the building’s operating costs including utilities are submitted to the House Committee chair for estimation. To assist them, historical data for the past three years as well as a projection for the remainder of the current year are provided for reference. The chairs submit their budget requests to the Treasurer who works cooperatively with the Finance Committee to draft a budget for Board Consideration in April, so that a final budget can be approved before the June closing of the current year.

During the year, Committees are authorized to spend their budgeted funds without further approval. However, costs in excess of budgeted levels or requests for unbudgeted costs must be approved by the Board. The Bookkeeper records revenues when they are received and expenses as they are paid. Each month the Treasurer circulates the current month’s operating report showing monthly and cumulative
costs to date for each of the 116 line items. In order to properly monitor costs, the reports indicate the actual costs for the previous year as well as that budgeted for the current year. In addition, the reports formulaically forecast estimates of year‐end results. The Finance Committee reviews these reports in detail each month as one of the first items on its agenda. After any questions have been resolved the report is sent to the Board as part of the Treasurer’s report for their further review. A summary of these results are also posted monthly on the Temple’s website in the Members‐Only section under the heading Reports and Minutes.