General board approves smaller budget for 2004
October 3 2003 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

General board approves smaller budget for 2004 | Friday, Oct. 3, 2003

Friday, Oct. 3, 2003

General board approves smaller budget for 2004

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

ASHEBORO - Facing the reality of declining income, the General Board approved a budget for 2004 that is $2.4 million smaller than the 2003 budget, but more in line with current giving.

As of Sept. 19, Cooperative Missions Giving was $1.85 million, or seven percent, behind budget expectations for the year. The budget presented during the annual meeting will call for $35.2 million in 2004, 6.3 percent less than the $37.6 million budget for 2003.

This also marks the first time the convention will adopt a two-year financial plan. The proposed budget for 2005 adds 1.4 percent, rising to $35.7 million.

Budget committee chair Tom Crow said the committee began its work with the idea of cutting the budget by three percent, but declining revenues forced additional reductions.

Notable aspects of the budget, which must be approved by messengers to the annual meeting on Nov. 12, include the following:

Changes in giving plans Plans B, C and D will include a new 0.5 percent line item for the Southern Baptist Annuity Board's "Adopt an Annuitant" program, designated for retired N.C. pastors. The program provides supplemental funds for retired pastors who have very limited income.

To support the new line item, 0.5 percent will be moved from the "North America & International Partnerships" line, reducing it from 4.0 to 3.5 percent in Plans B and C, and from 5.0 to 4.5 percent in Plan D.

In addition, giving to four entities that receive small percentages from Plans B and C will be adjusted so that all receive the same amount. Currently, both plans include 0.25 percent for the Baptist World Alliance, 0.60 percent for the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, 0.50 percent for Associated Baptist Press, and 0.50 percent for the Baptist Center for Ethics.

The 2004 and 2005 budgets call for each of the four entities to receive 0.4625 percent. Crow said the move was designed to provide additional help for the Baptist World Alliance, which recently had its funding cut by the SBC.

Agencies and institutions Agencies and institutions related to the BSC will receive a 6.2 percent decrease in funding for 2004, with no increase in 2005. The percentage devoted to each entity remains relatively unchanged, with the reduction arising from decreased income expectations.

Staff salaries The budget contains no across the board salary increases for the General Board staff in 2004, and a one percent cost of living increase for 2005. Crow said there is some provision, however, to provide additional compensation for staff members whose workload will "spike dramatically" as a result of the recent staff downsizing.

The increase in health insurance costs alone is estimated to be more than $300,000 for 2004, Crow said.

After a period of discussion that included one proposal to scrap the current giving plans (see separate story), the General Board approved the revised budget with no voiced opposition.

Executive Director-treasurer Jim Royston spoke to the board about the BSC's recent downsizing of staff, and responded to concerns expressed by board members. "The simplest answer to what we've gone through is economics," he said. "We were spending more money than we were taking in." Royston said even more painful consequences could have resulted if the BSC had resorted to borrowing rather than proactively reducing the payroll. "Were there others ways to get at it?" he asked. "Yes. Without being on borrowed time? Probably not."

Royston said cuts were made in every single area of ministry. "There were no favorite sons or daughters, no turf protected," he said.

Eight positions had already been trimmed by attrition over the past 18 months, he said. Overall, the convention staff has gone from a high of about 140 to the current level of less than 110 employees. "Everybody is doing more stuff, answering more phones," Royston said. "The staff is doing a marvelous job of carrying the extra load, and we hope they don't have to carry it forever."

The elimination of certain positions did not mean their work was not "mission critical," Royston said, but "their work could be most easily absorbed by others."

Officials studied downsizing actions taken by two other state conventions and a national entity before deciding how to proceed, he said. Royston described the process involved as the most painful and agonizing time in his life.

Other matters Richard Brunson presented an update on relief and recovery efforts following Hurricane Isabel, and asked the General Board to approve an extension of the BSC's partnership with Honduran Baptists for three more years, through 2006. The board approved the extension with no dissent.

At the request of the Congregational Services Committee, the General Board adopted a resolution in support of N.C. Baptist chaplains.

The board also affirmed a resolution from the Council on Christian Life and Public Affairs that lauded Doug Cole for his 24 years of service as the council's executive director. Steve Sumerel is expected to be named as the next executive director for the council.

The Council on Christian Higher Education reported that John Roberson was elected as its new executive director. After the council's paid staff was laid off in the recent downsizing, most of its responsibilities were assigned to the Resource Development and Promotions group, where Roberson is executive team leader. Presidents from all five N.C. Baptist colleges were present for the council meeting. They expressed appreciation for Wayne Wike's past leadership of the council, and confidence in Roberson's future service.

10/3/2003 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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