Mississauga , Ont.
Council of General Synod – the Anglican Church of Canada’s governing body between General Synods – approved a break-even 2004 budget for the national church, but treasurer Jim Cullen warned that some dioceses face significant financial pressure.
Next year’s budget, presented to CoGS at its regular fall meeting, predicts revenue of $10.5 million and expenditure of $10.7 million, compared to expected revenue of $10.5 million and expenditures of $10.3 million in 2003. The current fiscal year is expected to end with a surplus of $226,000 that will be carried over into the next year for an overall 2004 surplus of about $22,000, said Mr. Jim Cullen.
“There is good news. Support from dioceses has been maintained and the Anglican Appeal is running 26 per cent ahead of last year as of November, 2003,” Mr. Cullen said in presenting the budget to CoGS. The Anglican Appeal supports the church’s national and international mission work and represents about eight per cent of General Synod’s financing. There is also continuing support for the Anglican Journal Appeal and other direct fundraising initiatives, he said.
However, Mr. Cullen added, “there are still difficulties and uncertainties.” Contributing to the $25-million native residential schools settlement fund is putting a strain on some dioceses, he noted. In addition, dioceses are finding that insurance costs are rising (see related story p. 9) and some parishes in the diocese of New Westminster are withholding funds because they do not approve of blessing same-sex unions. Contributions from dioceses account for 84 per cent of General Synod revenue.
Mr. Cullen said revenue for this year is on track with earlier predictions of $10.5 million. Investment income continues to be a small portion of revenue (1 per cent) since “you need an investment to get a return,” he said. In recent years, General Synod has drawn on its investment assets to pay legal fees associated with lawsuits alleging abuse in native residential schools. In 2002, such costs totalled $1.2 million.
“Some day,” Mr. Cullen added, “I’d like to put money in to the Consolidated Trust Fund (General Synod’s investment vehicle) instead of taking it out.” The 2004 budget also provides for an average 2.75 per cent pay raise for General Synod staff, which is below the anticipated inflation rate for 2003.
Rob Dickson, chair of the financial management and development committee, noted that to avoid borrowing costs, “It is extremely important” that dioceses attempt to spread their contribution to General Synod throughout the year rather than making a single payment at the end of the year. The expected 2003 surplus is primarily due to finance charges that were expected but not needed, he said.
About half of the national church’s expenditures (the same proportion as 2003) is expected to go to Council of the North grants, (which support northern dioceses) and mission work in Canada and abroad, now called partnerships. Council of the North grants are forecast to total $2.5 million (unchanged from 2003), and partnerships expenditures are expected to be $3.0 million, compared to $2.9 million this year. An increase of five per cent will go to the indigenous healing fund, which supports counseling and cultural projects in aboriginal communities.
The third-largest expense is the communications and info rmation resources department, which includes the Anglican Journal and its circulation and database department, Ministry Matters magazine, the www.anglican.ca Web site, Anglican Video and other communications material. It also includes the library at the national office in Toronto . The Anglican Book Centre, a retailer of books, CDs, vestments and other religious material, is expected to return higher net income to General Synod in 2004 ? $214,600 compared to $161,300 this year. The budget also reflects the cost of an expected postal increase in 2004.
There will be increased costs associated with the election of a primate in May, 2004, said Mr. Cullen. Unless the primate is from Toronto , moving costs and a housing allowance will be paid, he said. In addition, the cost of General Synod – the church’s triennial governing convention – is expected to be $485,000 in 2004. Building maintenance costs at the national office are expected to be lower in 2004 after the move into new quarters in January, said Mr. Cullen.
CoGS also approved an increase in the corporate contribution to the General Synod pension plan, which covers Anglican Church of Canada clergy and lay employees. Currently, parishes, dioceses or General Synod contribute 10 per cent of an employee’s salary; this percentage will rise to 11.2 per cent by Jan. 1, 2006. The reason for the increase is that the current contribution rate will eventually not be sufficient to pay for future benefits, said Laura Solomonian, an actuary with the Mercer consulting firm who presented an actuarial valuation of the pension fund.
The committee heard that as of Sept. 30, 2003 , the market value of the pension fund was $453.4 million. That was up 9.3 per cent from $415.0 million on Sept. 30, 2002. “The markets have rebounded and the pension fund is performing well against its peers,” said Ms. Solomonian. However, the pension committee’s report said the performance of one of the fund’s asset managers, UBS Asset Management, continues to be a concern and is being monitored closely. For the nine months ending Sept. 30, 2003 , the fund returned 7.5 per cent. Its investment mix is 60 per cent equities, 35 per cent fixed income and five per cent real estate.
The pension committee also reported it “continues to be concerned about the high number of claims (for long-term disability) each year.” As of Sept. 30, 2003 , there were 65 claims in force for long-term disability, with 48 per cent of a psychological nature, compared to 38 per cent in March. The pension committee has requested time at the 2004 fall meeting of the house of bishops “to address the issue of what preventative measures dioceses / organizations could undertake in order to minimize the number of stress-related claims.”