Category: Standing Committee Minutes

Jun 15 2011

May 2011 SC Minutes

Standing Committee Meeting Minutes
5/12/11
Present: Walter Cole, Marybeth Bush, Bonnie Rankin, Deirdre Heck, Tom Coffey, Dave Kaffine, Ellen Spero, Martha Hicks-Courant
Absent: Warren Flewellen, Laura Monteodorisio
Reports
• We reviewed Ellen’s report.
• We reviewed the Treasurer’s report. It looks as if we’ll have a $4K surplus rather than a $7K deficit at the end of the fiscal year, essentially as anticipated.
• A question was raised about the reasons for the last several years of budget surpluses. These can be determined from the treasurer’s annual reports. While exact details for previous years were not available at the SC meeting, in general pledge income typically comes in above budget, and expenses, including staff hours, come in under budget. The reasons for this year’s surplus can be analyzed further after the books are closed in the summer.
Budget/Canvass
• The target of the canvass is $210K; we are only at about $150 (71%), with half of the pledge units having pledged so far. This is consistent with past patterns in terms of numbers and amounts for this point in the pledge drive.
• Projecting from current numbers, it looks as if we’ll be short $10K to $15K; we need to talk about what to plan for if that’s how it comes out.
• Given how big a chunk of our budget is earmarked for staffing, the Standing Committee will ask the HR Subcommittee to see how we might make cuts in this area – the most obvious place to save money is on RE staffing, for which an increase (for a second DRE) is currently proposed.
Steeple
• Lots of appreciation was expressed toward those who worked on the huge – and ultimately successful – effort! Thank you!
• Many thanks, too, to Bill Drury for his extremely generous contribution toward this project.
• We moved and voted to approve the Finance Subcommittee’s proposal (still TBD) for funding the balance of First Parish’s portion. (We discussed some combination of money from Cell Tower 2 and a loan from our investment funds.)
HR
• All SC members have been asked to complete performance evaluations for the staff. It’s requested that we please complete these as soon as possible.
• We agreed that, as he did last year, Tom will review and sign off on the finished performance evaluations on behalf of entire Standing Committee. Other members of the SC are also involved in this process (Marybeth and Martha are both on the HR Subcommittee), so he’s not doing this in a vacuum. Also, if there are any surprises or issues, Tom will raise those with the rest of the SC.
• If the proposed new co-DRE position is funded, Deirdre and Tom will co-chair the search committee.
• We reviewed proposed changes to the HR Manual. We approve all changes except the amount of unpaid leave, which we sent back to the HR Subcommittee for further discussion. We’ll vote on all the changes after HR has finalized the amount of unpaid leave.
GA
• Ellen would like to hold a meeting for all members of our delegation in order to set expectations about the purpose and goals of attending.
• We will need a congregational vote to approve our delegation.
Lion’s Club
• We need to send them a letter approving their use of our parking lot for the July Fourth weekend.
• We do not want them to start setting up till after 10 a.m. on Sunday 7/3, after our early morning service that day.
• Cindy has the letter from last year. Ellen and Cindy will look at it together and adjust it as necessary.
Ministerial intern
• An Intern Committee is in place. Walter volunteered to be SC Liaison to this committee.
• Ellen has a Ministerial Intern Manual. The Intern Committee is starting to go through it to see what we need to do.
• Tom Wight is working on the contract.
Nursery lease
• It’s time for the nursery lease to be renewed. We’ve been raising the rent 10% per year over the last several years to get up to a reasonable market rate. It’s currently $10,638/year ($1182/mo. for 9 months).
• Bonnie has collected info about the rates paid by other local nursery schools and preschools in church buildings. Some pay $2000/mo, but this is for much more space. One pays about the same as Open Door Nursery for a comparable amount of space. Another couple don’t pay anything, but these are religious – not secular – schools.
• We propose a small increase to $1250/mo.
Youth program proposed schedule change
• There are proposals to shift OWL and high school youth programming to evenings. Perhaps we could go slowly, starting with OWL (consistent with COA, and a move back to its original time slot several years ago) and then moving other programs after we see how this goes.
• If programming is held in the evening, a staff member will need to be present.
• One of Sadie’s goals for this year was to develop a 2-year plan for youth programming; it’s not necessary, though, for it to be implemented right away.
Cell Tower 2 funds
• We need to have the congregation vote at the June meeting on how this money will be used.
• In the meantime, we all need to think about what to propose to the congregation for its use. Do we want to allocate some of it to pay again for our GA delegation? (Next year’s GA is a “justice GA,” to be held in Arizona to protest changes to the immigration laws there.) What else?
Congregational meeting
• The next congregational meeting will be 6/19, because we need 30 days between meetings); this is a change from 6/12.

May 15 2011

April 2011 SC Minutes

Standing Committee Meeting Minutes –4/14/11

Present: Bonnie Rankin, Marybeth Bush, Deirdre Heck, Warren Flewellen, Tom Coffey, Dave Kaffine, Laura Monteodorisio, Martha Hicks-Courant
Absent: Ellen Spero, Walter Cole

Leadership conference in Sturbridge on May 7
• Bonnie, Tom, Walter, Deirdre, Dave will attend
• Bonnie will talk to Ami Hughes about also attending
• Deirdre will check w/Church Council members

Canvass
• Has started and pledges are coming in.
• Tom will check in w/ Dennis to see how things are going.

Steeple Update
Townspeople are questioning the CPC grant for our Steeple. Individuals we thought were supportive are now changing their mind seemingly due to public pressure. There seems to be a risk that even the clock won’t be approved. There is a big sentiment in town that money shouldn’t be spent on anything, and so steeple funding has become very political.

The Town of Chelmsford’s Fiscal Subcommittee met last month but didn’t vote. At a recent Selectmen meeting, the Selectmen voted unanimously against the steeple, 3-2 for the clock grant, but voted to put the matter forward to Town Meeting.

There is little understanding of CPC funds. Since both town halls will be renovated w/CPC money, people feel that money for historic use has been tapped already. This isn’t true, most residents, including Selectmen and Town Meeting Reps, are not well educated on this.

There is the concern that despite the fact that no CPC grant has ever been rejected; we may be the first.

Tom & Bonnie are going to the Historical Commission to get their public support. We’ve been planning all along to contact town reps. This is being done already and will continue.

Bonnie reported, people involved in historic preservation were concerned with what might happen if these articles should fail. How we handle this could inadvertently undermine the opportunity for others applying for grants later. If we wait a year despite the fact that things will deteriorate further, we might have a shot at getting a grant later. But the deterioration and cost will be greater.

There is the possibility of going to the congregation and requesting to increase the amount that First Parish funds towards the steeple, perhaps this gesture will help with the various committees in town: Historical Commission, Fiscal Subcommittee, Board of Selectmen, Town Manager, Town Meeting Reps. Express the sentiment that we are trying to do the right thing, – will they support us? Tom’s suggestion is to offer for FP to pay half and ask for support of the grant for the rest.
Tom will be seeing George Dixon and Town Manager. If he succeeds there, he will go to Fiscal Subcommittee.
CPC meeting next Wednesday; Tom will go to that too, have grant revised according to outcome of meetings.
Our part $133K; we’ve asked for $88. What if we ask for half instead ($66K)? Other options?

If we choose to go forward with a new amount, we need to ask the congregation about this increased amount: two meetings to vote on money must be 30 days apart, w/10 days’ notice for posting of warrant. Plan for May 15 and June 19. We should have notice in Shooting Star to tell the congregation that we’ll have these meetings to vote on steeple funding; Laura will write this.

Bonnie will be sending a letter of FAQs to Town Meeting reps, together with the new increased amount that First Parish will provide, just before Town Meeting starts.

We might also start a steeple fund (similar to sabbatical fund), to have money set aside on a regular basis going forward. We also have LRP fund already, though, so perhaps we don’t need to earmark specially for steeple.

HR recommendations
HR recommends two DRE positions of 20 hours each
DREAA hours to be reduced.
Search Committee for the second DRE position needs to be set up.
Funding for the second DRE position will be added to the May 15th warrant.
Recommended changes for RE staffing voted and approved.
We can now start search process (in a preliminary way).

Who should be on search committee? Who should chair? We would want someone from SC, someone from HR, someone from RE Council, one youth, one parent, others?
Suggestions: Deb Grad, Carlene, Niamh or Fred Kaffine (youth), Amy Totten (parent), Deirdre (SC), Michele Hillman (RE Committee). Maybe also Lisa Calvo and/or her daughter. Tom will talk to these people (and w/Ellen).

Grounds proposal
Martha S. wants to move the trellis that houses trash cans. Doesn’t fit anymore, and isn’t currently being used to hide trash cans because of the new portico. Martha wants to add bench, create sitting area w/potted plants etc. in a new space. Tom will call Martha to clarify. Martha needs to get Colleen’s okay (since Colleen built the trellis) before proceeding.

Treasurer’s report
The Budget is going up about $17K; about half of that is increase DRE hours. Merit bucket most of the rest.

Next fiscal summit 5/14; budget meeting 5/22.

Last year we (SC) decided breakdown for expenditures of Cell Tower 2 money. We’ll need to do that again this year, since there’s no other body to do this. We’ll need to wait till we see what we need for the steeple

Voted and approved fiscal reports.

GA
Money set aside. Ten people interested, plus Ellen & Sadie. Marybeth will ask those signed up about reimbursement.
Tom and Marybeth will work w/Ellen to figure out how to split the $10K.

Other Business
Tom’s meeting w/former SC chairs
They’d like to be involved in long-term strategic planning. They will have one more meeting before end of church year.

Nursery lease
Perception that we’re not charging the nursery enough, so we’ve raised their rent 10%/year for the last three years. We should do research, though, to see what we’re charging relative to other nursery schools in church buildings. Bonnie will make calls in May.

Ministerial intern
Tom Wight has been assigned the task of communicating an official acceptance to Russ; Dave & he met to talk about it. Dave & Tom will get an update on this from Tom W.

Church credit card
Some discussion about the idea of having a church credit card that could be used for things like Holiday Fair purchases, GA registration, etc. Cindy might use it for office supplies, stamps, etc.

Dave will look into how this would work. Tom will talk to Cindy about what the cap should be. We’ll need to write policy about this. Who can use it? What’s the cap? What’s it used for? Warren will write draft policy statement.

Reports
No reports from Ellen or Sadie. Cyndi noted that she still finds the church unsecured periodically, too often for her comfort as she is frequently in the building alone; Dave will talk to Cindy and Leila about this. Cindy should send a message out reminding congregants to lock up if they’re the last ones in the building.

Kristy Medina is going to chair the Green Committee.

Apr 15 2011

March 2011 SC Minutes

Standing Committee Meeting Minutes
3/10/11

Present: Tom Coffey, Dave Kaffine, Ellen Spero, Bonnie Rankin, Marybeth Bush, Laura Monteodorisio, Warren Flewellen, Deirdre Heck
Absent: Walter Cole, Martha Hicks-Courant

Meeting started at 7:02pm, with distribution of materials, chalice lighting and check-in.

Archives
Warren gave update on archives. Paul W. has no objection to moving the safe. Raised one main issue he doesn’t know how practical it is to move (steps, doors, weight). It will take planning. Paul will also review the materials that are in the safe.

MassEquality phone bank
Warren talked about the MassEquality phone bank request (sponsor a phone bank for Mass Equality, who will come with materials scripts, phone lists, etc.; provide facilities and also help to provide manpower; advocate for bill for transgender workplace equality). Welcoming Congregation believes this is aligned with our values. Still need to find out more details about what is technically involved for the phone bank, but asking Standing Committee if there are any concerns. After some discussion and clarifications, there were no concerns. SC agrees and supports this request.

Intern committee
[Did not capture list of members]. Committee is moving forward with the intern candidate, although official offer with salary not out yet.

General Assembly
Marybeth gave an update. Some possible delegate candidate names are coming up. Ellen has the GA materials (ballots, etc.). There was a brief discussion on how to allocate funds and do reimbursements. Doing travel reimbursements like this points out the possible need for a church credit card.

Spring Leadership Conference
Clara Barton and Mass Bay districts are holding a Leadership Conference on May 7th in Sturbridge. Tom hopes to go, and asked who else is interested. Dave is planning on going, and Bonnie is also interested. Tom will check with Walter. Everyone should spread the word and look for other interested parties.

Human Resources
HR missed a meeting due to a snowstorm, so they are a little behind. Sadie attended the last HR meeting. SC discussed staffing needs for next year., various options, pros/cons. HR has collected data on RE programs from UU churches similar to our size.

Canvass
Tom provided an update on Canvass. A good canvass plan is coming together. Dennis is moving along, has 3-4 volunteers already. On a motion by Warren, with Marybeth seconding, the SC voted unanimously to fund an iPad for raffling as part of the canvass drive, with pledgers receiving one chance to win for pledging by deadline set by Canvass committee, and another chance for increasing their pledge at least 10% over last year.

Steeple
We had a good congregational meeting on 2/20. The straw vote for the funding plan was positive. Bonnie got 25 volunteers to help with PR work / mailings / contacting reps. The CPC grant proposal has already passed the next two steps (finance committee and board of selectmen), so it is now already on the warrant for town meeting.

Some possible ideas for fundraising were discussedm such as: basket collection during service (might bring in $3000), selling t-shirts, etc. Another possible grant at the state level has been investigated, but is not possible due to the timing as well as deed restrictions that would be imposed. Ellen also suggested communicating about the steeple with our renters, asking if they are Chelmsford residents, and if they would consider supporting our efforts.

Discussed how and when to raise the congregation’s portion of the repair funds. After discussion, proposed combining the request for steeple funds with this year’s canvass pledge form.

Town meeting starts 4/25 [date incorrectly reported as 4/18 during meeting]. We will be hosting an Open House on 3/27 from 2-4pm. Need a volunteer from SC to organize (Tom has Coming of Age retreat commitment). Laura volunteered to head up snacks, and Deirdre will also be a worker-bee.

Tom was interviewed about the steeple for the Chelmsford Independent.

Table of Plenty
Bonnie gave a ToP update. ToP has put out a new newsletter issue, which has a column from Ellen. ToP wants to help with publicity, ticket sales, etc. for the fundraising concert by the Tervos. Dave will follow up with rest of music committee.

Reports
Reviewed and discussed Minister’s report, DRE report, and Music Director’s report. On a motion by Warren, with Marybeth seconding, Treasurer’s report was approved unanimously.

Adjourn
On a motion by Warren, with Deirdre seconding, the meeting was adjourned.

Feb 15 2011

January 2011 SC Minutes

Standing Committee Meeting Minutes
January 13, 2011

Present: Tom Coffey, Walter Cole, Warren Flewellen, Deirdre Heck,
Martha Hicks-Courant (secretary), Dave Kaffine, Laura Monteodorisio, Ellen Spero,
Bonnie Rankin

Absent: Marybeth Bush

Miscellaneous
• We voted to approve the minutes from the December meeting.
• Tom reported on the meeting he held with previous Standing Committee chairs.
• Tom reported on the Jan. 8 Fiscal Summit. This included distribution of a very preliminary budget, as well as some discussion of the needed steeple repair and possible funding options.
• Glenn King has joined the Fiscal Subcommittee. Thank you, Glenn!

Steeple repairs
• We need to fix our steeple this summer, before the damage gets significantly worse.
• On Wednesday 1/19, at 7 p.m., Johan will present our grant proposal to the town’s Community Preservation Committee (CPC). The meeting will be will be in Room 205 at Town Hall. It would be good for a number of supporters from the congregation to attend. (Note: Additional grant options have been researched and deemed unlikely.)
• There will be another meeting in February (details to be determined); it would be good for us to have congregational representation at that meeting as well. We will also want representation at the Board of Selectmen meeting at which the grant proposal is presented.
• We will prepare a script so members of the congregation who are residents of Chelmsford can call their town representatives about the steeple in early April, before the April 18 Town Meeting. We also talked about having postcards sent to Town Reps, so they’re aware of the issue.
• We talked about inviting the Board of Selectmen, as well as Town Meeting members, to come to the church and have a tour of the building and the steeple.
• We discussed sources of funding for the steeple repair other than the CPC grant (which of course we may not even get), including a combination of money from Cell Tower 2, the endowment, and the congregation. We would like to have one-third of the cost funded by the congregation.
• We will have a “steeple table” at Social Hour every Sunday to publicize the work that needs to be done.
• We will have a congregational meeting about the steeple on 2/20 (after the town’s public hearing on 2/16). We will have additional meetings as necessary in May and June to vote on funding.

Canvass
• We have a leader for the canvass: Dennis Gray has volunteered to take the lead. Thank you, Dennis!
• We talked about the idea of having a raffle for those who send in their pledge coupons early.

Church parking
Parking behind Old Town Hall will be closed off after Winterfest. We need to figure out other places to park and publicize these locations. Possible alternatives include behind the yellow house on the other side of the common; behind Sovereign Bank at the intersection of Rte 4 and Rte 129 (is this town parking? we need to research); and behind Eastern Bank. We will make a map to help direct people, and have someone in the church parking lot to send people to the right places.

AA
The AA group has been having trouble paying their rent (they are completely dependent on volunteer donations); they have requested a reduction from $30 to $20 per week. We voted to forgive their debt and reduce their rent as per their request.

WOW
A meeting has been scheduled with a UUA representative to talk about how to articulate our goals, work through issues, and communicate effectively as we consider options for widening our worship.

Internship Committee
We voted to approve an offer from the Internship Committee to an internship candidate.

Letter of call
• We voted to approve this year’s updates to Ellen’s letter of call (revised every year).
• We need to put money aside each year in anticipation of Ellen’s next sabbatical, so as to cover the cost of the sabbatical minister.

Treasurer’s report
We didn’t have time to review the Treasurer’s report together; we should let Dave know if we have questions.

Jan 15 2011

December 2010 SC Minutes

Standing Committee Meeting Minutes
December 9, 2010

Present: Marybeth Bush, Tom Coffey, Walter Cole, Warren Flewellen,
Martha Hicks-Courant (secretary), Dave Kaffine, Laura Monteodorisio, Ellen Spero,
Bonnie Rankin

Absent: Deirdre Heck

Treasurer’s report
We reviewed and approved the Treasurer’s report.

Sending out a pledge reminder has resulted in an increase in pledge income. We decided to add a mid-year (November) pledge reminder to the annual timeline.

Old business

• WOW: There will be another cottage meeting in January (exact date TBD), since not everybody was able to attend those offered so far. This will be followed in February by a congregational poll, in which we present four choices and allow people to vote for two. Our goal is to have two choices to present for a congregational vote later in the spring.
Data point: When Ellen started at First Parish, average attendance was close to 60. It is now 80-100.

• AIT: There have been three meetings so far to present the results to congregation, for a total of 45-50 attendees. The response to the plan (but not the cost) has been favorable.
The AIT committee will put the plans out on display and then hold another presentation if that seems warranted.
Beyond that, this group has completed its task. Should the congregation decide to move forward in implementing the architects’ plan, we will need to put together a capital campaign.
The first step in raising money would be to contact the UUA about getting help with a feasibility study.

• Table of Plenty: Last week attendance was 58 for dinner. In addition, 16 take-home meals were prepared. The Boy Scouts helped set up, and there have been lots of new volunteers, including folks from First Parish.
There are eight different teams participating; First Parish doesn’t serve again till the start of February.
Tom Coffey will donate a freezer for Table of Plenty food storage.

• Ministerial intern search: There are two candidates, one of whom will be interviewed later this month. We will take on an intern only if we find someone who’s a really good fit.

• House management: We got approval from the Historical District Commission, and the porticos are now being built. Because we need a variance for a setback for the one closest to the RE wing, we must also get approvals from the building inspector; this is in process.

• Holiday Fair: The Holiday Fair brought in $4356 in profit, not counting what came in Sunday. This is slightly less than last year.
The setup and flow worked well, the music was good, and the magic shows for the kids were well attended (thanks to Aleric Heck!). We need to figure out what to do differently next year. One suggestion is that First Parish folks be allowed to pre-order greens.

New business

• Fiscal Summit: The next Fiscal Summit will be Jan. 8.

• Meeting with the Town Manager: Ellen is planning to meet with Paul Cohen, Town Manager, to talk about our shared history and how best to move forward on shared issues, such as parking.

• Archives: Paul Windt is making a list of what needs to be archived (such as old hymnals) and what our storage needs are.

• Community Table: After many years of running Community Table, Linda Newhard is stepping down at the end of this church year. Beth Benoit & Carole Russell are looking at taking this over; they will be shadowing Linda over the next few months. (Thank you, Beth & Carole!)

• Nominating Committee: We (Standing Committee) have passed on to Nominating Committee the names of potential candidates to fill open positions on Standing Committee next year.

• Steeple: We voted to fix the steeple over the summer. Town Meeting is in May, so that’s the earliest we could get a grant from town. Johan Mackenzie, with help from Chris Sweetnam, is working on a CPC grant and is researching other grant possibilities. (Thank you, Johan & Chris!)
The UU church in Westford recently went through something similar and was successful in raising money in town. They are willing to talk to us. Tom would like a contingent from Standing Committee to go with him to talk to Westford and other churches about their experience in raising money for this sort of thing.
It looks as if it will cost about $150 to $200K to fix the steeple and roof. We discussed alternatives for paying for this if fund-raising efforts fall short; options discussed included using part of our endowment and borrowing against cell tower 2 (earmarked for outreach).
We want to have a plan by January.

• Canvass: The SC’s Fiscal Sub-Committee, Glenn King (Collector), and Kirk Kirkpatrick (last year’s Canvass chair) met to talk about the Canvass. We are still looking for someone to lead the Canvass this year.

• Parking: We will lose the parking lot behind Old Town Hall for a year, starting in February, while construction happens. Ellen will talk to Paul Cohen about where else we might park. We’ll talk further about this in January.

• Ellen’s report: Membership, Worship, & NOLA are committees that Ellen has not been leading anymore, in keeping with her goals.

Standing Committee

The Standing Committee is the Church's governing board. The Standing Committee works to ensure the vitality of our community of faith. There are 10 members of the Standing Committee – nine voting members elected by the congregation and the minister, who is a non-voting member of the Committee. Standing Committee members serve a 3 year term.

The Standing Committee meets on the second Tuesday of the month at 7:00pm. Time is set aside at the beginning of every SC meeting as an open forum for members to bring forward any issues they would like to discuss.

The Standing Committee is responsible for the health and well being of First Parish. This includes maintaining communication among members and committees, managing Church property, and planning for the Church's short and long-term future. And of course members of the Standing Committee develop and manage the budget approved by the Congregation at the annual meeting.
The Human Resources Committee is a sub-committee of the Standing Committee.