From the Grand Treasurer …
There have been a number of meetings with several Districts, Lodges and individuals related the proposed per capita increase. I will address the most frequently asked questions and concerns.
“Does such a large increase have to be approved in one amount now?”
Several options were requested.
“Delay the increase by one year to give the lodges an opportunity to meet after the pandemic shut down is over and we can meet again. This will allow them time to review their finances and adjust their dues to accommodate this increase is the basis for this request.” Some are saying the reason for the delay is they are not able to hold fund raisers during the lock down so their lodge is already having difficulty with paying its expenses. For a lodge to be financially sound our longstanding recommendation is that the dues should cover the operating expenses. We are using the same principle for Grand Lodge finances. If the lodge is using fund raisers to cover its operating expenses, it already has financial stability concerns. Thus, the question: “What will be the impact with further delay next year?” The delay results in a permanent loss of $600,000 in revenue. “Spread the increase over four years at a rate of $5.00 per year for the next 4 years”. This option with several other levels of assessment was considered all resulting in accumulated losses of $1.9 million to $2.7 million.
“Reserve funds could be used to provide the cash to pay the capital improvements and to cover the losses.”
NOTE: ALL LOSSES HAVE TO BE REPAID FOR THE LONGEVITY AND FINANCIAL STABILITY OF OUR GRAND LODGE.
Technology: “What is the upgrade and what is the benefit?”
There is a need to be able to communicate directly with all our brethren. Only some of our brethren are members of Grand Lodge but all our members including the newest Entered Apprenticed Mason will be supporting the per capita through their lodge dues. Our present system for the distribution of information is the Resource Digest which has a mailing list of 682 made up of members of the Board and lodge secretaries. The lodge secretaries are then to forward the Digest to their members. We have not experienced a satisfactory success rate – about 14% from our analysis.
Establish a data base of all our members and have a single source for all membership data with different levels of access and security for the various levels i.e. by each member, lodge, District and Grand Lodge. There are 33,000 members, 500 lodges, 41 Districts and one Grand Lodge that will be sharing this single source membership data base with all the related access and security issues in place.
There are systems available off the shelf, or we have had offers to write programs by of our technical savvy members, but they do not easily, if at all, without major programming modifications meet our overall needs. A system written by an individual, leaves us exposed to being able to manage the technology going forward. We do not have an IT person on staff.
Workflow and Administration.
The administrative time involved with bylaw changes, dispensations, awards, and a number of regular office duties can be automated resulting with improved efficiency and savings for administration costs.
The upgrade to our technology will allow Grand Lodge, the District, and the Lodge to become more proactive compared to our present system supporting reactive activity.
Building: Our building is the head office for Masonry in Ontario.
“If the costs are so high, we should sell it.” This option was explored, and the decision is to continue to maintain and use our current building. There is no benefit from selling the property requiring us to find another home which does not seem to result in any savings.
There are two major issues with the building. The roof is estimated to reach the end of its useful life in three years. Waiting until it leaks with the associated increase in repair cost is not a good decision. The other building issue is accessibility under the AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) which will require us to comply with the law when it comes into effect. The minimum will be a ramp to the first floor and an elevator to the second floor. This will also raise the issue of our washroom accessibility. Once you start modifications to this extent, you open the door to local building code requirements which may lead to even more than obvious modifications to meet the local code and AODA requirements.
Communication of financial information from Grand Lodge to our members.
“We are being asked to vote on a budget, having never seen any details of the budget or our present financial results.” “We receive this information annually buried in the proceedings when they are published long after these matters have been approved.”
The request is for more financial information to be available to the members that they may be better informed of before they vote. We plan to comply with your request by including the financial and budget information in the Preliminary Reports to be made available in early July.