- Every building has several major systems, which need capital investments over the course of several years. These improvements need to be tracked as they are made, and tracking is easy using Excel.
- Paint – have a list of all rooms and halls and as each one is painted, write in the important information regarding that job: date, cost, color of paint, contractor, etc.
- Flooring – have a list of all rooms and halls as each one is updated, write in the important information regarding that job: date, cost, details about type of flooring, contractor, etc.
- Roof – this is one of the most expensive building systems but it also lasts about 20 years. On a spreadsheet record each roof and data about the roof: date last replaced, type of roof, cost, contractor, etc.
- Gutters – replace any copper gutters with aluminum ones with a gutter guard/helmet. A gutter guard will decrease the expense of cleaning out your gutters and thus prolong their useful lives.
- Electrical – record any major changes to the electrical wiring and panels
- Plumbing – record any major changes to the plumbing, sanitary sewer systems, and lawn irrigation systems.
Tracking utility expenses on Excel
- Monitoring expenses is a critical component of facilities administration. Use Excel to record, track, and analyze expenses for some specific areas such as HVAC and utilities spending.
- After several years, tracking this spending will greatly help in the budgeting process.
- These spreadsheets can also answer questions about why and how much exactly the church is spending money on HVAC and utilities.
- HVAC spending should be tracked by creating rows for each piece of equipment and columns for the cost of each service call.
- Other details such as the date and description of the service call can be entered as a comment in each cell.
- Over a period of years you can see how much each piece of equipment costs in ongoing maintenance and whether that piece should be replaced or continually repaired.
- Utilities tracking will have a row for every meter or bill for each service provider such as electricity, water, sewer, telephone, natural gas, garbage, internet, cell phones, etc.
- Other details such as the kWh, cubic meters of water, and other measurements of use can be tracked as a comment in each cell.
- Over a period of years excessive use or decline can be tracked and even graphed for better viewing. Sometimes this tracking will pinpoint a leak in a water pipe.
Energy savings and energy-efficient systems
- Most buildings have 4-foot fluorescent lamps – change T-12 lamps to T-5s (and in a few years, once the price has come down, to LEDs).
- In drop ceilings, remove 2×2 fluorescent fixtures and replace them with 2×4 lay-in fixtures with T-5s.
- T-5s are 50% brighter and are 50% more energy-efficient than T-12s which saves money and helps the environment.
- Reducing the different types of lamps reduces the amount of inventory needed on the shelf.
- HVAC Equipment
- Over time this very, very expensive equipment will need to be replaced. In the past few years, the industry (at government prodding) has developed machines which are far more energy-efficient than ones from decades past.
- These energy-efficient pieces come with a price, sometimes twice the cost of less efficient ones. A truly efficient HVAC piece will have a payback period of 7 years or less. Talk with the vendor to see studies about the ROI (return on investment) time period.
- Energy is only going to get more expensive over the next several decades. A wise church will make an investment today in energy-efficient equipment so that they’ll pay less in fuel over the 20-30 year lifespan of the machine.
- Here are ways to make this happen financially:
- Pay for the work from two fiscal years by having the work done at the end of one fiscal year but billed in consecutive months across fiscal years.
- Pay for the work out of two separate budget lines: the maintenance budget and the utilities budget. Since the utilities expense will be less, it is reasonable for the utilities to absorb some of the initial cost knowing that in subsequent years there will be cost savings.
- Use funds left over at the end of a fiscal year, which can and should be put back into the facilities of the church. (see “capital-ize”section)
- Do both of the above, paying out of two fiscal years and two budget lines. That spreads the expense.
- Continue the above approach until all projects are done.
Flooring: carpet versus vinyl tile
- When deciding what kind of flooring to put in an area, first look at the use and foot traffic of that space. Areas that are pass-throughs such as hallways have, by definition, more traffic than destinations, such as offices or rooms.
- Hallways should have vinyl tile or some other hard surface
- Durable floor surfaces are the priority because of the heavy foot traffic, and hard surfaces have a lifespan that is double or triple that of carpet
- Hallways are noisy but sound control is not a priority
- They should be easy to clean since there is more potential for people to spill things on the floor
- Classrooms and offices should have carpet or some other sound-absorbent material
- There is a great need for sound control so that those seated in the space can hear each other
- Carpets make rooms feel warmer and more welcome
- Carpets in rooms will last for years because there is less foot traffic than in a hallway
Grouping rooms in use for energy savings
- In facilities with multiple HVAC units for different areas of the building, schedule all weekday meetings (insofar as possible) in the same area of the building so that you use only one or two HVAC units.
- Help members who insist on using another room see the benefits to the church of saving on energy by meeting next door to another group.
In part 1 I discussed how to set up the hardcopy or paper files of the church’s Finance Office. This post discusses how to organize computer or server-based files. My prediction is that within 5-10 years almost all finance office files will be kept on a computer. I encourage you to begin moving that way as soon as possible.
The first equipment you’ll need (after a computer) is a scanner. Most photocopiers today are also scanners. Or you can get a good quality flatbed scanner for about $200 or top line color “All In One” scanner/copier/printer for about $700. You should also invest in the latest version of Adobe which allows you to work with PDFs. I also encourage you to have an account with Dropbox and to either keep all your files on Dropbox (that’s what I do) or use it as a backup system.
Regarding the file organization itself, have:
- A folder for every fiscal year and the following subfolders
- For each month’s financial reports: put all regular financial reports in PDF form in the respective folder to easily access them in the future
- Budget folder – all docs related to the current year budget
- Memorial Letters folder – copies of all memorial acknowledgements
- Stock Gifts and Non-Cash Gifts
- Finance Committee meeting agendas and minutes
- Additional folders for other major categories such as
- Tax exemption docs
- Employee Personnel Forms (tax forms, direct deposit form, etc.)
- Finance Office Forms (all forms related to the Finance Office)
- Building Projects & Campaigns (one folder for each one)
- And as many other folders as necessary to group major activities and events. Caution: do not have an excessive amount of folders or you’ll spend a lot of time hunting for docs.
How you organize the folders is up to you. I organize everything by year – the budget, the monthly financial reports, the audit info, etc. are all in the folder of that fiscal year. I can find things easily if I know what fiscal year or two I’m dealing with. I can’t encourage you enough to be passionately organized about your folders – it will help you later and save loads of time.