2008 budget shows $1 million decrease



e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service
      
 

2008 budget shows $1 million decrease

May 11, 2007  News media contact: Tita Parham*
800-282-8011 
tparham@flumc.org  Orlando {0670}

NOTE: Headshots of Wilson and Johnson are available at http://www.flumc.info/photo_gallery2.shtml.

An e-Review Feature
By Erik J. Alsgaard**

LAKELAND — Florida United Methodists attending this year’s annual conference event June 6-9 in Lakeland will have the opportunity to approve something many conference’s only dream of: a significant decrease in the budget for the conference.

After many hours of prayer, hard work and careful analysis, the Florida Conference Council on Finance and Administration (CF&A) is presenting a proposed 2008 budget that shows a 13.8 percent decrease for the conference portion of the total budget and a 6.1 percent decrease in the total budget.

Mickey Wilson

“We are moving money into ministry, rather than continuing to fund areas that are already fully funded,” said Milton “Mickey” Wilson, conference treasurer. “Our objective was to improve the ministry of the conference, and we think this budget does that.”

The proposed overall budget is $17,381,638 — $1.1 million less than the 2007 budget and $1.9 million less than the $19.2 million 2006 budget.

Almost half of the 2008 budget proposal — 45.3 percent — is targeted for “Total Connectional Church” ministry. This $7.87 million figure is set by the General Council on Finance and Administration and is the amount the Florida Conference is apportioned toward the overall denominational budget. For 2008, it represents an increase of 5.2 percent over the 2007 amount.

Rev. Dan Johnson
“Once again, the Florida Conference has the opportunity to lead the way in giving to the ministries of the general church by being apportioned more than any other conference,” wrote the Rev. Dr. Dan Johnson, president of CF&A, in the workbook for the 2007 annual gathering. Johnson also serves as senior pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in Gainesville.

Much of the decrease can be attributed to the retiree health benefits area. According to figures supplied by CF&A, in 2007 the Florida Conference budgeted a little more than $1.5 million for retired clergy health insurance, but because of earnings from a surplus of funds in this account held at the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits, the requested amount for 2008 is zero dollars.

“There is sufficient money in the account, made possible by apportionment dollars given over many, many years, to eliminate, at least for 2008, the need for a budget request” in this area, said Wilson. He was quick to add that this proposed reduction “does not mean any changes to retiree health insurance or any additional money coming out of their pocket.”

Members attending the Florida Conference event will also notice “carry-overs” on various line items. The budget proposal shows an almost $300,000 reduction because of carry-over dollars from 2006 actual expenditures, Wilson said. A portion of unspent 2007 dollars will be classified as “carry over” and used to reduce the 2008 budget, calculated at 50 percent of the budget surplus for the corresponding funding category, according to Recommendation #6 of the proposal. Previously, it was a “use it or lose it” mentality, Wilson said.

Another piece of the 2008 budget proposal is what Wilson termed “budgeting on ratio.” That means that the various departments and ministries, other than clergy support, will receive their funding at the same percentage apportionments are received, Wilson said. In 2006, the percentage of apportionments received was 87.2 percent, down from 89.7 percent in 2005.

In 2006, Florida United Methodists contributed $24.4 million dollars for mission and ministry. This included $7.4 million in connectional church apportionments, which is set at General Conference, and slightly more than $2.7 million in so-called extra mile giving that is not part of the apportioned budget. This includes advance special and other special gift giving, such as to the United Methodist Children’s Home, Conference Advance Specials, One Great Hour of Sharing and other special Sundays.

The remaining $14.3 million consisted of Florida Conference and district apportionments. In that figure, $5.25 million supported clergy in areas of retired clergy health insurance, district superintendent salaries and benefits, equitable compensation, and other items. The 2008 budget proposal is less than half — a little more than $2.23 million — of what was spent in 2006 in this area.

“We celebrate the very intentional and careful work of our conference staff,” Johnson said. “They honor the idea of stewardship at its best, which allows more dollars to go into ministry. It builds trust and helps all of us do the important work of aligning our financial resources with our ministry goals and objectives. For that, we are most grateful.”

More information about the “From Generation to Generation” 2007 Florida Annual Conference Event is available on the conference Web site at http://www.flumc2.org/page.asp?PKValue=1163.

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This article relates to Conference Finances/2007 Florida Annual Conference Event.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Alsgaard is director of communications for the Florida Conference.




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