By Henry Ellsworth, Treasurer Halifax Presbytery

moneyI wonder how many are fully aware of the budget and assessment process that is being used by the treasurers of Conference and your Presbytery.   When we hear of a percentage increase in the Conference budget, right away we assume that is a percentage change to our own Pastoral Charges. This may not be entirely correct.  We must understand that the increase, is an increase to our Presbytery and how each of the Presbytery treasurers (finance committees), decides to deal with that, is entirely their responsibility.

Each year the Conference provides each presbytery with an assessment to be paid to the Conference in the following year.  Because of increasing operating costs, this is generally an increase. The increase for 2014 was exceptionally large to help offset the debt of the new Conference office building.   How the presbytery recovers the funds to pay this invoice to conference is their responsibility. This amount along with other presbytery operating expenses is usually passed along to the various Pastoral Charges in the form of a Presbytery assessment, to help with the approved budget.

As the Treasurer of Halifax Presbytery, I prepare a budget for the Presbytery each fall and the request for an assessment from Conference is only part of that budget.  The final budget expenditures and income that are approved have to be recovered through income sources, mostly from the Pastoral Charges, which may be an increase or it may not, depending on the financial situation of the Presbytery, and how they decide to calculate the Pastoral Charge assessment.

Some Presbyteries may have investments that they wish to use to offset some of this.  The decision lies with the individual Presbyteries.  In Halifax Presbytery, for our calculations, we use the line 40, with the average of the last 5 years, but will shift to the 3 year average, to stay in line with what was proposed at the conference level.  I will sometimes use some of the previous year’s surplus (if any) to reduce the amount that I have to assets the Pastoral Charges.  Last year I used surplus, and reduced the increase to an average of around 22 percent.  Some individual allocations were lower and some higher.  The final calculations are effected by the Pastoral Charge five year average of line 40 of the previous year book, (assuming the pastoral charges have filed their stats to General Council and there is a number to average). This is a very important function of each pastoral charge that is supposed to be completed each year. It is not always done, and therefore the averages are often skewed.

General Council will always use the last figures received, In Halifax Presbytery there are several Pastoral Charges that has the same figures for the past several years.   This could be good or bad for them, depending on their individual finances.

I wonder if there is a need to work at developing a common formula for Presbyteries to calculate their Pastoral Charge assessments. (I bet there are many different formulas used.)  At this time I feel the need for a workshop for presbytery treasurers to work out a common method of doing assessments.

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