Council of General Synod approves 2010 budget

By on November 15, 2009

Council of General Synod (CoGS) has approved a budget that includes $450,000 in cuts in order to reduce the General Synod’s deficit to $492,000 for 2010. The cuts are in keeping with a commitment to eliminate deficits by 2012. Treasurer Michele George said that the management team and Financial Management and Development Committee (FMDC) looked first for cost savings that would hurt the least, such as meeting costs, but cuts to some programs and staff layoffs will also be necessary. All committees, except the CoGS, have been asked to replace one face-to-face meeting a year by a teleconference. The management team placed an embargo on specific information about staff cuts until they could speak with General Synod staff on Monday.”We did a lot of chipping at the edges last year and getting rid of anything that we thought was excess,” said George. “And this year we chipped at the edges some more and then we went further and focused on more substantive things, reducing grants, particularly grants to the global partners and then we looked at how do we reduce the third largest component, staff costs…. It was in that order because we are reluctant to reduce staff costs,” she said. In 2009, the budgeted deficit was reduced to $800,000. The deficit-elimination plan called for a further reduction of $300,000 in 2010, but because revenues are also down, George said the cuts in spending had to be about $450,000. Proportional giving from the dioceses, the largest portion of General Synod’s revenue, is down. While the economic downturn may be the immediate cause, declining numbers of people attending church is a larger and more long-term problem, she said.George said cuts would be made across the board, but noted that General Synod 2007 committed to maintaining block grants of $2.4 million to the 11 member diocese of the Council of the North until 2012. Thus, from the $10 million budget for 2010, the cuts had to come from the remaining $7.6 million portion of the budget. Archdeacon Larry Beardy of the diocese of Keewatin commented that travel costs in the North are much higher than they are in the south, and “just getting around” consumes a large part of their budget.According to a written commentary released with the budget:?The Partnerships department is working on maintaining critical commitments, especially to the neediest communities, but will suspend or reduce Canadian and global partner grants and reduce travel.?In Faith, Worship and Ministry, the newly vacant position of director will be assessed after General Synod 2010 and will be filled on an interim basis until then.?The Office of the General Secretary will reduce travel costs and work on succession planning as some staff approach retirement.?The Primate’s office will reduce travel costs.?Communications and Information Resources will implement cuts from its program budget as well as from meeting costs and travel. Substantial cuts are proposed for the Anglican Journal.?The staff size for Financial Management and facilities was deemed to be appropriate (5 staff positions were cut in 2009), but contracts will be reviewed and re-evaluated as they come up for renewal.?Funding for Indigenous Ministries events such as a summit about nonstipendiary clergy positions, youth council gathering and urban ministry event are not in the budget, but the Department of Philanthropy will seek major gifts to support them.?Philanthropy will realign administrative functions.(The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund is separately incorporated, and thus was not included in this budget.)CoGS also approved an investment of $350,000 (from its unrestricted funds) in three Philanthropy department projects intended to help move General Synod toward sustainable budgets in the future – a gift catalogue (scheduled to be delivered with the Anglican Journal in February), a bequest identification program and a feasibility/planning study for a major, nationwide fundraising initiative.CoGS members expressed regret and concern about the human cost of the budget cuts but accepted their necessity. Archbishop Colin Johnson of the diocese of Toronto echoed these concerns but observed that more dramatic cuts will have to be made if deficits are to be eliminated by 2012. Tough choices will have to be made, he said. “What we need to talk about is cutting $1 million dollars out of expenditures. By 2012, we have to have $1.2 million out of the existing budget, which is not one or two people, but it is chunks of program and not all programming is equal,” he said. “You can’t take 10 per cent off every department because actually there are some things that are absolutely critical that the national church does and other things that are optional. And we haven’t made those hard decisions about which things are optional.”George acknowledged that “this is a very tough place to be,” because the church’s current strategic plan has almost expired and a new one won’t be in place until General Synod 2010 meets in June. “At this point, we are very reluctant to cut out programs, cut out grants, cut out entire areas, until we’ve got the outcome of … Vision 2019 and the new directions coming out of General Synod 2010. Obviously, if you cut something out and then it becomes a priority at General Synod 2010, you’ve got to reinstate it somehow.” She added that the management team will review several areas of operations where changes could be made and will report on the feasibility of the changes when CoGS meets in March.As of September 30, there was a shortfall in diocesan contributions of $630,000, but George said she expects most of that will come in before the end of the year. Two dioceses, however, will not be able to make payments, she said, “so we know we have an absolute shortfall of about $80,000.”

Author

  • Leigh Anne Williams

    Leigh Anne Williams joined the Anglican Journal in 2008 as a part-time staff writer. She also works as the Canadian correspondent for Publishers Weekly, a New York-based trade magazine for the book publishing. Prior to this, Williams worked as a reporter for the Canadian bureau of TIME Magazine, news editor of Quill & Quire, and a copy editor at The Halifax Herald, The Globe and Mail and The Bay Street Bull.

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