Annual Meeting

May, 2020

Dear UUS:E Voting Members:

We will be using this space to share  questions and answers regarding our 2020 annual meeting.  In short, given the constraints created by the global pandemic, we are unable to carry out business as usual. We anticipate there may be some confusion. We hope this “question and answer” page will help provide as much clarity as possible.

UUS:E’s  2020 vote-by-proxy Annual Meeting was held on May 17th at 1:00 with four Policy Board members and Rev. Josh Pawelek present. There were 136 proxy votes. Read the minutes here.

To read the letter of call for  the 2020 Annual Meeting, click here.

To review the 2020 Slate of Officers, click 2020 slate.

To review the proposed 2020-2021 UUS:E budget, click on Annual Meeting Budget 2020-21.pptx-April 23. (Note: If you cannot download this Power Point presentation, please contact Annie Gentile in the UUS:E office who can make a copy available to you.)

To read the 2019-2020 packet of Annual Reports, click Annual Report Packet 2019-2020.

Voting: Because we cannot gather for our annual meeting in person, voting on the budget and the leadership slate will be done by proxy. Proxy voting forms can be mailed to the UUS:E office at 153 West Vernon St., Manchester, CT 06042. They can also be scanned/photographed and sent by email to UUSE5.17.20@gmail.com. Proxy voting forms were sent to voting members along with the letter of call  in late April. If for any reason you need another copy of the proxy voting form, or would like an electronic version, please contact Annie Gentile in the UUS:E office at (860) 646-5151.

If you have any questions about the budget, the slate, the process, or anything else related to the annual meeting, please send a message to UUSE5.17.20@gmail.com or contact the UUS:E office during regular business hours at (860) 646-5151.

Questions and Answers

Question (submitted on 5/16): Has the insurance company been able to reduce our rates due to the minimal use of the building?  And could we get some additional quotes from other companies?
Answer:  Thanks for this question! So far our insurance company hasn’t approached us on the cost of our policy. We will look into this and provide updates in this space as we have them.
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Question (submitted on 5/16): Given the low rates, would we consider refinancing the mortgage?
Answer: Our adjustable mortgage rate is scheduled to reset this summer. We are set to get a competitive rate when that occurs (the timing is very good for us given historically low interest rates — a very silver lining in this time of crisis).  The UUS:E Finance Committee has recommended we stick with our current mortgage as we have a clause in the agreement that allows for prepayment without penalty and we haven’t typically found that same type of flexibility with other lenders on this type of commercial loan.  Plus we anticipate that if we were to refinance with another provider, we likely would have to move all of our accounts to that lender which would impose some administrative costs.
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Question (submitted on 5/16): When would further plans be solidified and the 20-21 budget modified to reflect new circumstances?
Answer: We think it is highly likely that we will have to further modify our 20-21 budget to reflect changing circumstances.  Depending on the pace of economic recovery (or lack of recovery) we may see changes (both positive and negative) in the ability of members and friends to pay their pledges. Some pledging units are waiting to make formal pledges until they have a better sense of their financial position for the coming year. Also, since we have successfully applied for and received a PPP loan (see update below), we have greater flexibility then we did at the end of our Annual Appeal.  So far no formal decisions have been made on how to manage that new flexibility, though it definitely will enable us to take a break from our big fundraisers which really cannot happen while maintaining social distancing. The Finance Committee and Policy Board will be tracking changes to our financial condition regularly, and keeping the congregation apprised of any significant changes.
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Update: The packet of UUS:E 2019-2020 committee, officer and staff reports has been published. Read the reports at Annual Report Packet 2019-2020.

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Update on UUS:E’s loan application to the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): 

Good News: UUS:E has been awarded a nearly $64,000 PPP loan from the federal government. Congratulations to our Treasurer, Randy Kurker-Stewart, for his hard work and dedication to securing this loan. We are deeply grateful to him and our Finance Committee members. PPP loans must be spent on staff salaries and benefits and will be forgiven as long as the recipient institution adheres to these basic guidelines. The Policy Board will be meeting on Thursday, May 14th, to discuss how to appropriately allocate these new funds. More information to come.

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Question (submitted week of 5/4): At least one version of the leadership slate lists Azucena Minaya Llantoy and Jim Adams continuing as Social Justice / Anti-Oppression Co-Chairs, yet also identifies one of those positions as unfilled. Are they both continuing? Or is one of them stepping down?
Answer: There was a misprint on an early version of the slate. Both Azucena and Jim are continuing as SJ/AO Committee co-chairs. The only unfilled position on the slate at this point is the Sustainable Living Co-chair. 
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Question (submitted week of 4/27):  I understood that several recent generous donations to the UUS:E Endowment fund qualified for matching funds from the Unitarian Universalist Association’s  “Wake Now Our Vision” campaign, financed by the UU Congregation at Shelter Rock.  Have we received those funds?
Answer:  We have received three out of four installments from the “Wake Now Our Vision” Legacy Matching Campaign. Those funds have been deposited into our endowment fund.  We are enormously grateful not only to the UU Congregation at Shelter Rock but also to the members of our community who took the time to generously provide for us in their estate planning. We are also profoundly grateful to the UUS:E Legacy Giving Team and Malcolm Barlow who donated their time to this effort.  The Legacy Giving Team’s efforts are ongoing.  Please let us know if you are interested in learning more.
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Question (submitted week of 4/27):  I heard that we applied for financial assistance under the Cares Act.  Can you share any details?
Answer:  Yes, we applied for assistance under the Payroll Protection Program administered by the Small Business Administration.  Under this program we may be eligible for a forgivable loan equal to approximately two months of payroll expenses to help us maintain our staffing level during the COVID-19 crisis.  It is important to note that the current proposed budget for fiscal year 2021 does not plan for us to receive this aid and is as conservative as we can get in an effort to maintain our staffing and our programming.  Given the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic, the Policy Board believed that we must apply for this program as a matter of fiduciary responsibility to our community and staff.  We therefore submitted our application to our bank on the second day that the program was open.  Unfortunately, our bank was not ready to accept applications on the first day.  Even with this early action, our application was not processed before the original funding for the program ran out. Since Congress appropriated additional funds for the program, our bank has confirmed that our application is complete and in the queue for processing.  We have also contacted our Connecticut Congressional Delegation seeking any assistance that they might provide with the program.  We are hopeful that we will qualify soon and will put any funds provided to immediate good use in supporting our staffing payroll expenses.  And, of course, we will let the congregation know if we receive PPP loan.


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