|Six archdeaconry meetings were held to help find the most appropriate assessment system. This meeting was at St. Philip’s, Vancouver, for the Vancouver Archdeaconry|
Diocesan Council has recommended to the special Diocesan Synod this month that the diocese adopt a new system for funding diocesan operations and ministry beyond the diocese.
Essentially the new system brings contributions to the Stewards in Action (SIA) program into parish assessments.
The basic assessment rate, which has been a flat 12.1 per cent of parish operating revenue, would be increased to 15.55 per cent for smaller parishes, 16.65 per cent for the middle group, and 17.55 per cent for the top third of parishes.
Treasurer Jim Stewart told diocesan council that in parishes where the congregation had been generous to SIA, there should be little difficulty meeting the new rates - provided parishioners can be persuaded to switch their giving from SIA to the parish.
In May the annual Diocesan Synod decided that Stewards in Action, established 15 years ago, will end December 31. At its peak SIA – a voluntary program of giving – raised over $800,000 annually, but recently had brought in less than half of that amount.
For parishes not in the habit of giving to SIA, any increase in assessment would be capped at 13.5 per cent, Stewart said.
Stewart said the decision to go with a sliding scale of assessment rates – charging less to the smaller parishes and more to the larger ones – seemed to be what most people attending a series of Archdeaconry meetings in September felt was fairest.
“We knew we couldn’t please all of the people, all of the time. We were just trying to please most of the people, most of the time.”
Charging smaller parishes less recognizes that smaller parishes must spend a higher proportion of revenues on their priest’s salary and benefits.
As at present, larger parishes are still being asked to pay into the Diocesan Growth Fund. The larger 50% of parishes contribute a total of $200,000 annually into this fund to meet future diocesan needs. The amount asked of the larger half of parishes will be equivalent to another 1.94 per cent of assessment, Stewart said.
The new plan includes a system of gradual steps from one assessment rate to another, to avoid a sudden jump from one year to the next in what a parish is asked to pay to the diocese.
The limit on any increase in what a parish pays in assessment from one year to the next to no more than 13.5 per cent would mean that the full assessments of about 20 parishes will initally be subsidized from the Diocesan Growth Fund. The total amount of subsidy - and draw on the Diocesan Growth Fund - will be less than $70,000 in 2006, and less in future years..
After asking several questions of clarification, the Diocesan Council of about 40 members approved the new formulas unanimously and without debate.