Monday, July 13, 2009

Harry's Peeves

I received a letter from the shul recently about an increase of dues for the next budget year. (I assume most of you did as well.) Well, I’m not sure about anyone else but the dues structure made no sense to me. So, I asked some Board members to explain it. As it turns out, many of them either did not remember voting for the increase in the first place or could not explain how the new dues structure will work.

This is not surprising because in my opinion - it makes no sense! As far as I can understand there is a 4% increase in dues, BUT (and here is the catch) if you pay your dues by September 10, 2009 you do not have to pay the increase. Now let’s think about this. So the people who can pay all the dues in one budget year do not have to pay the 4% increase. These are the people most likely who can afford to pay the increase. However, if you did not complete paying all the dues by September 10th (I assume even if it is by one dollar) you must pay the 4% increase. Now I assume most people who did not pay their dues on time are the people who, in this difficult economy, may have some trouble coming up with the entire amount all at once. So, according to the new policy, we will punish them by increasing their dues!!! This is like an income tax where one pays LESS tax the more a person earns. (Hey, I wonder which political party that would appeal to?)

I can just hear the argument that we are not focusing on the people who cannot afford to pay their dues on time, just those who refuse to pay on time, or are just schlimazels when it comes to paying dues. But this also makes no sense. How are you going to get any significant amount of money by raising dues from either those who cannot afford to pay, or from people who just do not pay their dues on time. Look at it this way, if a person didn’t want to pay on time, why would that person want to pay a 4% increase? I am really puzzled. But I am open to hear any rational explanation for how this dues increase is going to work.

So after all my complaining, what is my “brilliant” solution, you may ask? I can give you a boring list including (1) long-range strategic planning, (2) an outside consultant to examine our financial structure, (3) professional fund raising, etc. But I have another really brilliant idea that will kill two birds with one stone (so to speak). How about establishing a point system for those who make up a minyan during the week. For example 10 points for coming to Schacrit, 5 points each time for evening prayers. These points can be traded in at the end of the year for a cut in dues.

If you like this idea – let’s go one step further by allowing trading of these points. The financial whizzes in the congregation can create a mini derivative market! The possibility of making a quick buck is endless. And, the best part is: if this Minyan Points market collapses we can always ask for a bailout from the federal government.

Conversely, if you have very few points accumulated by the end of the year (let’s say less than 50 points) you must pay a dues increase of 5%. (These figures can be adjusted). In this way we encourage people to come to shul, and given the nature of many of our congregants – we can receive a hefty increase in dues. Is this not a brilliant idea or what?

I welcome any comments - but only at Shabbat Kiddish – and after I’ve eaten my herring!