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BUDGET PROCESS AND GUIDELINES
Due to the parental relationship of the Geological Society to each of its Sections, the necessity of requiring their uniform adherence to its fiscal policies is self-evident. Such policies are to be recognized as prerequisite for meeting minimal requirements of federal statutes which apply to non-profit organizations claiming tax exempt status under Section 501[c] of the Internal Revenue Code.
To enable Section officers to better discharge fiscal responsibilities for Section activities in compliance with these requirements, guidelines and procedures have been developed. While a degree of flexibility in their application is permissible, they should, for the most part, be closely observed by the individuals responsible for their implementation, and by the section secretary to insure uniformity, consistency, and adherence to acceptable standards of accounting.
YOUR SECTION SECRETARY MUST GET A COPY OF YOUR BUDGET.
Central Accountability of GSA Headquarters
This is the Responsibility of the Section Secretary/Treasurer
Because of its ultimate accountability for section funds, GSA is required to maintain certain records that will enable it to properly discharge this responsibility. These records are an integral part of the Central Accounting System, which is subject to audit and must, therefore, reflect all transactions affecting the financial position and net assets of each section, and are fully supported by original documentation. This imposes on all sections and local committee treasurers the responsibility for promptly submitting to headquarters documentation to support both their cash receipts and disbursements. Included as evidence, but not limited to, are such things as registration forms, remittance advices, invoices, bills, claims, and copies of official resolutions specifically authorizing or directing the expenditure of funds. Where sections have a need to retain documents of this nature, it is recommended that they be Xerox copies since the originals must be sent to headquarters.
Custody of Section Funds
Section General Checking Accounts
Each section may choose to pay their bills through an imprest Section Bank account replenished through headquarters or utilize headquarters to pay invoices directly on their behalf.
An imprest account would provide for maintenance of a checking account at an agreed upon balance. Actual disbursements would be made by the section Treasurer and subsequently reimbursed by headquarters upon receipt of original documents approved by the Section Treasurer or President. To facilitate the preparation of periodic reports by headquarters, each item must also indicate an account code or description.
In addition, to facilitate audit confirmation of year-end balances, the name of a headquarters staff person (Executive Director and or Controller) should be included on the signature card for each account. Section bank accounts are to be opened in the name of the:
Geological Society of America
by the ____________Section
Copies of signature cards supplied by the bank with the signatures of all officers authorized to sign checks, as provided in the Financial Resolution of the Council dated November 16, 1974, must be filed with headquarters for all checking accounts and updated as frequently as necessary, but at least annually. The section checking account is to be used only for such transactions as are proper to it. Transactions arising from the section's annual meeting are to be processed only through accounts established for that purpose (see Custody of Annual Meeting Funds).
Alternately, a Section may choose to submit invoices to headquarters for direct payment and eliminate the need to maintain a general bank. As before, each invoice should be approved by the Section Treasurer or President and identified with an account code or description.
Bills received at headquarters before 9:00 a.m. on Monday are routinely paid and mailed on Wednesday of that week. More urgent items may be faxed to headquarters for immediate payment. At all times authorized section representatives will have unrestricted access to funds credited to their account. However, disbursements in excess of section account balances will not be allowed.
Section Funds at Headquarters
Section cash accumulations transferred to headquarters are available to the Section at all times. Cash accumulations not used by the section will generate earning credits based upon the Section's average quarterly account balance and average quarterly interest rates quoted in the Wall Street Journal for $100,000 certificates of deposit with a one year term.
Custody of Section Meeting Funds
This is the Responsibility of the Section Meeting Treasurer
Section meeting funds are to be segregated from regular section funds maintained in a separate checking account reserved to each section meeting. The account should be opened by the treasurer of the local committee in the city where the meeting is to be held, in the following manner:
Geological Society of America
20____ Annual meeting of
The local committee treasurer shall utilize this account to receive and disburse all meeting funds. Cash advances for opening section meeting accounts are to be obtained from the section treasurer. All checks drawn on section meeting bank accounts must have dual authorized signatures and may be any two of the following:
- General Chairman of the Local Committee
- Treasurer of the Local Committee
- Section Treasurer
- The CEO and/or the Controller
Copies of bank signature cards pertaining to section meeting bank accounts must be filed at headquarters when accounts are opened.
Upon completion of the meeting and payment of related expenses, the local committee treasurer should (1) close the account (2) complete all meeting financial reports (3) transfer surplus funds to headquarters for Section credit, and (4) forward all original financial documentation to headquarters for storage.
The establishments of section meeting savings accounts are not authorized.
Disposition of Bank Statements and Canceled Checks
All original bank documentation for general and section meeting checking accounts must be forwarded to the Controller of the GSA. Section treasurers may take delivery of monthly statements before forwarding to headquarters or instruct the bank to mail direct to the Controller's attention at the GSA. Upon request, headquarters will provide copies of bank statements and canceled checks to section treasurers.
Recordkeeping at the Section Level
The primary responsibility for the adequacy of financial information pertaining to section affairs rests with the section treasurer. In the interest of assisting him/her in discharging his fiscal responsibilities the headquarters office of GSA maintains uniform summary records of all routine financial activities (except meetings) for each section as a part of its regular accounting system. The data for these records is obtained from the information provided from canceled checks and deposit slips accompanying the bank statements received by headquarters and eliminates the need for section treasurers to report routine receipts or disbursements on a special form provided for that purpose. Section treasurers should, however, be prepared to furnish the Controller with such documentation as may be required from time to time to support individual receipts or disbursements.
Recordkeeping for Section Meetings
The primary responsibility for recordkeeping at section meetings is that of the designated treasurer of each local committee. Sharing in this responsibility, in an advisory capacity, is the section treasurer. It is his duty to provide the local committee with proper guidance in the administration of financial affairs to assure compliance with headquarters accounting requirements. The following procedures are recommended as means by which these requirements may be fully satisfied.
It is a fundamental requirement of fiscal planning to develop a budget before doing anything else. The budget, as it concerns the planning of a meeting, provides the basis for the establishment of registration and other fees that will become the primary sources of revenue required to defray meeting expenses. Each meeting is to be self-supporting and, at a minimum, must break even.
While the local committee of a section may develop its own budget format, it is strongly recommended that the one in use by headquarters for its annual meeting be at least used as a guide (see attachment). The formats for the local committee treasurer's records of cash receipts and disbursements, which are discussed later, follow the pattern of the budget format and should prove helpful in the subsequent evaluation of the overall planning process.
A separate budget sheet (sample attached) should be prepared for the costs of each functional component of the meeting. Items for consideration are listed on the list included in this section.
The chairperson of each subcommittee should be required to prepare a budget for the activities for which it is responsible and deliver same to the general chairman, who in turn is responsible for compiling the consolidated budget.
When the budget is finally agreed upon and the proposed registration and other fees have been established, a copy of the final budget must be provided to the section treasurer and the treasurer of the local committee, since it is the joint responsibility of these two officials to monitor subsequent receipts and expenditures.
Accounting for the Section Meeting
A Meeting Cash Receipts and Disbursement Record should be used as a basic system tailored to budget formats for recording the fiscal activities of section meetings. A system can be devised on a basic spreadsheet software or manually handled by the local section treasurer.
The Meeting Cash Receipts Record is designed to classify meeting revenue according to routine major sources. Although a line by line entry for each individual remittance is desirable, it is not absolutely necessary, providing that batch totals of several remittances are supported by documentary evidence of amounts received.
Each day's receipts should be sub-totaled and cross-footed. It is recommended that each day's receipts so determined be deposited in the bank daily or, at a minimum, be represented as one line item on the bank deposit slip whenever prepared.
Any advances from headquarters for checking accounts are not to be considered revenue of the meeting and should be reported accordingly.
At the conclusion of the meeting, and after all receipts have been accounted for, a grand total of all gross meeting revenue is arrived at by combining all daily sub-totals as suggested in the preceding paragraph.
The Meeting Cash Disbursements Record should enable a classification of each expenditure by major category. Various columns can identify routine expenses (i.e., postage) or various expenditures accordingly. Indicate check number when logging payments.
Various columns would be used to identify other multiple payments made out of meeting funds, as for example, check no. 173 representing a refund of a registration fee, and check no. 174 being a remittance to the section treasurer returning funds advanced to open the meeting checking account.
As in the case of the Meeting Cash Disbursements Record, daily sub-totals of amounts of checks drawn should be arrived at and agreed to the aggregate of the sub-totals of columns.
After all meeting obligations have been met and no further disbursements are anticipated, a grand total of all disbursements representing the daily sub-totals of columns should be entered as the last item in the Cash Disbursements Record. The difference, then, between the grand totals of all columns of the Cash Disbursements Record and columns of the Cash Receipts Record should then equal the balance on hand as shown by the last bank statement adjusted for any checks outstanding or deposits in transit. The balance should then be transferred to the section treasurer thus closing out the account. The balance on hand, less any meeting advance, should equal the net gain or loss of the meeting.
Local committee treasurers are responsible for finalizing all meeting financial transactions subsequent to the release of records to the section treasurer. This includes the payment of all pertinent bills or invoices; the resolution of all claims for credits or rebates and the issuance of any refund checks as may be required. The files of each meeting consisting of bank statements, canceled checks, records of receipts and disbursements together with all supporting documentation pertinent thereto, are to be delivered intact to the section treasurer for transmittal to GSA headquarters by no later than the 15th of June following the conclusion of the meeting.
Disposition of Headquarters Charges
Section treasurers are expected to promptly remit to headquarters payments of all billed charges for services provided or expenses incurred by GSA on behalf of the sections.
Since Council action is clear regarding section autonomy in matters concerning fee assessments and collection of funds, the method by which each section proposes to recover the cost of abstract fees charged by headquarters is left to section discretion. The only limitations are that it must be done:
(a) legally, and within limitations established by Council,
(b) in compliance with regulations intended to safeguard the Society's 501[c] tax status, and in a manner so as to permit proper documentation in accordance with accepted principles of accounting.
Federal, State and Local Taxes
Because GSA is a non-profit organization within the meaning of Section 501[c] of the Internal Revenue Code, it is exempt from paying income tax except on certain unrelated business income, as explained under "Accountability and Disposition of Exhibit Booth Income". On the whole most of the income derived from its professional activities is therefore non-taxable. Normally this tax exempt status entitles the Society to claim similar exemption from state or municipal income taxes and, in most cases, applies as well to taxes on both real estate and personal property which it owns.
The Society is declared legally exempt from paying sales tax on purchases made in Colorado because of its non-profit status under the 501[c] regulation. However, since each state makes its own rules in this respect, section and local committee treasurers are advised to investigate local statutes and ordinances to determine what liability they may have with respect to goods purchased.
Generally, most states and municipalities having sales tax laws require that, notwithstanding other exemptions which may apply, non-profit organizations are obliged to collect and remit sales tax on merchandise they may sell. Such is the case involving GSA's sales of its publications in the states of Colorado and New York and on its cash sales during meetings held in other states. This would also hold true for sections should they become involved in cash sales of publications or other merchandise at meetings.
The comprehensive public liability and Officers and Directors liability insurance carried by GSA encompasses all activities of the Society and the official acts of its Officers and Directors. Section officers are thus assured of appropriate coverage at all times and are advised to notify headquarters immediately in the event of an occurrence which might result in a claim for injury, loss or damage against the Society.
Travel expenses incurred by section officers on official business for the section or the Society must be reimbursed from section funds. Councilors, officers of the committees of the Council, and GSA staff personnel are reimbursed from GSA general revenues when on official business for the Society in connection with section activities.
Except as elsewhere provided in these procedures, no additional financial reporting to headquarters is required. This does not, however, relieve section treasurers from reporting requirements imposed by Council rules and regulations or those of the sections themselves.
As has been indicated, the books and records of the Society, including those relating to sections, are subject to an annual audit by independent accountants. In the past, and because of the decentralization of section records, attempts to examine them at locations other than at GSA headquarters have not been altogether satisfactory. The design of the foregoing procedures, when fully implemented, should alleviate this situation.