Council of General Synod (CoGS) members today agreed to view the 2013 General Synod budget as “transitional,” with undesignated reserve funding being used to address the deficit. Rob Dickson, chair of General Synod’s financial management committee (FMC), called the transition budget a “prudent way of moving forward,” adding that it includes commitment to a more conservative budget and a fiscally sound expenditure plan for 2014.
Archdeacon Harry Huskins, deputy prolocutor of General Synod, said that using reserves to fund the deficit will pave the way for a more humane and orderly transition. “If we have layoffs, I want it done with compassion, understanding, kindness and thankfulness,” said Huskins, adding that, “if we don’t have the time to plan, I think we will end up in a far worse place.”
A series of discussions slated for 2013 will be aimed at balancing the General Synod budget in 2014, said Chancellor David Jones, who explained that a transition period was necessary because “…there are jobs and lives that need planning.”
Several members stood up to support the resolution, but a few expressed reservations. The Very Rev. Josiah Noel, from the ecclesiastical province of Canada, said he was “uncomfortable” with deficit budgeting, noting how his own parish does not tolerate this practice. A transitional budget must also have a plan with more specifics, he added.
Archbishop Colin Johnson, metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Ontario, said corporations have reserves not to build wealth but to provide a cushion when incomes fluctuate, or to fund special critical projects beyond the capacity of an ordinary operating budget.
The Rev. Major Michelle Staples, of the Anglican military Ordinariate of Canada, expressed support for the resolution recalling her military commander’s adage that oftentimes in battle “you never go in with the plan you want, you go in with what you’ve got” and that “the longer you wait to fight the battle, the more casualties you’ll see.”
Jones explained that undesignated reserves would be used to cover expected shortfalls in 2012 ($288,000) and in 2013 ($513,000), resulting from a drop in revenues. “Our expenses are tracking well but our revenue is noticeably less than we had forecast,” he said.
In its written report to CoGS, the financial management committee stated that several factors account for diminishing revenues, including:
· diocesan contributions are currently under budget by $578,000;
· revenues from Resources for Mission are under budget by $379,000;
· revenue from the annual Anglican Appeal is “ahead of 2011 but still behind the 2012 budget” and
· advertising revenue in the Anglican Journal is down by $260,000.