The following report looks at the budget implementation of the Fabrique d’église (FE) in 2021. After two deficit years, the budget returned to a surplus in 2021, thanks to a slow convergence of revenues to the pre-crisis levels and a somewhat restrained investment activity, which kept expenditures relatively low. Nevertheless, this positive development hides some trends that need a deeper reflection. On the revenue side, mass collections continued to decline despite a partial and later a full reopening of liturgical celebrations. On the expenditure side, the energy costs include only advances and hence do not fully reflect the huge increase in energy costs in 2021. This will be accounted for only in 2022 after the annual settlement. More importantly, the repetitive thunderstorms have on several occasions damaged the roof of the church, which had to be fixed and it will require a full refurbishment in the near future. The expenditures are hence not expected to ease in the coming years. To finance expected elevated spending, the revenue side will need to be supported by additional income.
Main developments in 2021 included:
- The FE made several rearrangements with regards the rental of the presbytery at Rue Jenneval 10: (1) Standard rental contracts were signed with the tenants – fathers Charles Declercq and Marek Sitár – as before these were lacking; (2) The FE took over a contract for energy payments (before managed by tenants themselves) at the presbytery with each tenant contributing 40% to these costs and 20% are to the account of the FE to cover for parish activities (e.g. use of basement and the office room).
- The large capital spending related to the reparation of the church roof following strong winds in Belgium and the renovations of the apartment next to the church, which were prerequisite also in view of further improvements of the space in the basement of the church (i.e. to allow installation of a kitchen).
- The FE fully closed its bank account in BNP Paribas due to weak client service and transferred fully to using an account in the KBC Brussels.
The balance of revenues and expenditures
In 2021, the FE reached a surplus of 13 548 € after two years in deficit figures. This was both due to some improvement of revenues which increased by 1 855 € and a marked decline in expenditure which were lower by 21 843 € compared to 2020. Nevertheless, as mentioned above, expenditures do not fully reflect the rising energy costs in the course of the last year.
- Rents: Rental revenues are the largest and together with payments for the Proximus antenna – the most stable revenue source. The rental income is received from tenants at presbytery – the fathers Charles Declercq and Marek Sitár – and a family renting the apartment next to the church. The rental income in 2021 amounted to 18 868 € increasing slightly compared to 2020. It constituted more than a half of all the revenues.
- Mass collections: The revenue from mass collections reached 2 508 €, falling by some 45% compared to 2020 despite easing conditions for mass celebrations in the course of 2021. However, this drop excludes collections of the Slovak community (SKM), which transferred the mass collections for the period March-December 2021 only in January 2022. Accounting for these collections, revenue would be close to 5 000 €, thus up compared to 2020. Despite this, the mass collections would be well below the level of somewhat above 9 000 € where they stabilized before the pandemic.