On November 19, Council of General Synod (CoGS) approved a balanced budget of $11.23 million for General Synod in 2017.
The budget, presented to CoGS by General Synod treasurer Hanna Goschy the day before, includes a projected surplus of $47,360, compared to an expected surplus of $124,000 in the 2016 forecast.
In her presentation, Goschy said the projected surplus for 2016 was, in part, caused by vacant staff positions and projected expense savings.
The budget also projects “modest surpluses” from 2017 through 2021.
“Proportional gifts from dioceses are planned to be $8.4 million in 2017. Proposed budget includes a contingency of $125,000 in 2017 – a reduction of budgeted revenue – to allow for possible shortfall at the aggregate level,” a budget narrative sent to CoGS also said. “The contingency grows to $200,000 by 2021 reflecting the view that proportional giving cannot be predicted with confidence five years from now.”
Goschy said it was critical that dioceses maintain their proportional gift commitments, which make up about 87 per cent of General Synod’s core revenue.
She noted that giving in the Anglican Church of Canada has dropped significantly over the past 25 years, from almost $10.5 million in 1992, to $8.4 million in 2016. While the current picture is stable, the empirical data suggests a sustained drop in proportional giving of three per cent annually, she said.
Proportional giving is based on a formula by which dioceses provide the national church with 26 per cent income of “certain audited financial statement revenues,” and Goschy said that many dioceses are unable to meet this target.
“It’s important to remember that proportional gifts are really a gift,” she said. “All dioceses do what they can to provide that to us.”
The budget narrative also provided background information on the recent history of General Synod finances, and some of the trends the financial management committee (FMC) has considered in its decision-making.
During a period for questions following the presentation, John Rye, of the ecclesiastical province of Rupert’s Land, noted that nine years ago the church’s financial position seemed to be one of “impending doom.”
He asked what had happened to create the relatively stable financial picture painted by the 2017 budget.
Goschy said things had levelled off following the recession of 2008, but that this comfort was “short term.”
“That is no reason to feel permanent confidence,” she said. “Proportional giving will drop-we don’t know when that’s going to be.”
Andrea Mann, director of global ministries and partnership, added that part of the stabilization that took place following the recession involved serious cuts to programming and staffing.
Melanie Delva, of the ecclesiastical province of British Columbia and Yukon, asked whether General Synod has ever passed a resolution mandating it to pay its employees a living wage.
Goschy said that to her knowledge, there hasn’t been such a resolution, but that she believes national church employees do receive a living wage.
Archdeacon Michael Thompson, the Anglican Church of Canada’s general secretary, said he has “some confidence” the national church is a living wage employer, noting that adjustments are made annually to ensure salaries match cost of living in Toronto.
He offered to look into the matter further and provide a conclusive answer at a future meeting of CoGS.
Dean Peter Wall, of the ecclesiastical province of Ontario, asked about whether a current appraisal has been made of the market value of the national office at 80 Hayden Street in Toronto.
Wall asked if synod might consider selling the building if its value has increased significantly since its purchase in 2004.
Goschy said the FMC had received a report in 2015, analyzing the costs of maintaining the building compared to the cost of selling and leasing space elsewhere. The report concluded that it would be cheaper for the offices of General Synod to remain in its current location.