At the General Membership Meeting on August 27, 2015, the Chair of the Lodge Audit and Accounting Committee, Mark Fine, delivered what I considered to the be a “State of the Lodge Address” in the form of a letter to the Exalted Ruler. Mr. Fine’s report was the result of months of intensive research and investigation into the financial and accounting practices of the Lodge as impacted by its operations. Mr. Fine’s history with this Lodge, knowledge of financial and banking principles, experiences and interaction with Lodge officials, and expertise regarding Lodge operations makes his report credible. His report has enlightened the members, and, most especially, it got the attention of the House Committee.
The Audit and Accounting Committee’s report documented its findings with substantial data which indicates that our Lodge, due in part to inconsistent cash flow, is not quite as financially solvent as many of us initially believed. Even though it is clear that our Lodge is on an appropriate path to recover from the economic downturns that have impacted the Lodges of the Elks fraternity, it is apparent that there are measures which can be taken that will allow us to increase the pace so that we can go a lot farther, a lot faster.
As the Club and operations managers for the Lodge, the House Committee must take the Report of the Audit/Accounting Committee very seriously. It is the general opinion of the House Committee that given the prior state of Lodge finances, the organization has made considerable strides to alleviate its financial crisis. Still, there is much to be done. We (the Lodge) can and must do more. The agenda of the regularly scheduled House Committee meeting on September 8, 2015, revolved around issues related to the report. The House Committee has held informal group discussions and met with individuals regarding aspects of the report. All of the necessary corrections or improvements to the way business is conducted at the Lodge that adversely impacts its financial situation, will not be solved overnight.
Mr. Fine made a handful of suggestions relevant to House Committee operations. The suggestion that the House Committee ascertain the financial needs of the Lodge Statutory Committee to include those dollars amount in its budget submission required no evaluation, and a process was put in place. I am sure that there are members who have ideas that will save costs or increase revenue. So, as the Exalted Ruler said in his openings remarks, “Now is the time for all Lodge members to come to the aid of their Lodge.” If you have any suggestions, remarks, or comments, please come forward. At this point, the House Committee is investigating all options, including increasing dues, increasing Banquet Hall rents, staff reductions, eliminating or curtailing some program subsidies, and reducing contracted services. I fully concede that none of these options is desirable, but it is apparent that some actions must be taken.
Finally, I ask that you consider service on or assistance to the Lodge Audit and Accounting Committee. The Committee Chairman, Mr. Fine has some health challenges, but the prognosis is positive. Still, I believe he would welcome your help.
Robert S. Nelson, Jr
House Committee Chairperson