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Details of proposed 2017-18 Presbyterian Mission Agency budget released

Annual spending reduced 15 percent, reserve savings implemented

by Gregg Brekke | Presbyterian News Service

The board of the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will receive for discussion and approval the proposed PMA budget at its meeting April 26-29 in Louisville. Broad areas of the budget include a 15 percent reduction in spending in 2017 and 2018 as compared to 2016 and realignment of resources to fulfill the goals of the bridge Mission Work Plan.

Total expenditures of $63,530,297 in 2017 and $63,450,591 in 2018 are expected, representing significant reductions from the revised February 2016 budget of $74,828,043. No unrestricted funds—formerly known as the Presbyterian Mission Program Fund, or PMPF—will be used to balance the budget in these years, although earmarked restricted funding of $5,651,034 in 2017 and $5,796,849 will be used to support designated programs.

Additionally, 25 percent of the unrestricted and restricted budgets for 2017 and 2018—not including pass-through expenses such as special appeals—will be placed in a reserve fund to be used in emergency situations. With the goal of having at least three months of operating funding in reserve, the 2017 contribution to this fund from unrestricted giving is $3,046,194 and from restricted giving is $5,062,699. It is expected that these contributions over the next four years will allow for one year of reserves.

Tony De La Rosa, the PMA’s interim executive director, says this “modified zero base budgeting approach” began with an examination of how each ministry and program contributed to the goals of the 2017-18 Mission Work Plan. “We took a look at what was certain,” he said. “What would the [PMA] look like if we could only rely on those restricted revenues that we know are ongoing and continually will be there? It was a sparse picture.”

“But then we built a superstructure on the foundation of the things that aren’t going away,” he said of the programming that has been retained that the PMA is uniquely qualified to provide. “We will keep an eye on that superstructure to make sure it complies with the Mission Work Plan.”

De La Rosa expects “a handful” of PMA programs to be eliminated along with the elimination of “fewer than 10” positions in the agency if the board approves the plan. Mindful of the Mission Agency’s history of eliminated staff while retaining programs, he says the realignment of personnel into newly structured programs will not increase staff workload.

“Our goal is not to preserve the institution, but rather to attempt to preserve the mission God has called us to,” says De La Rosa.

The renaming of the Funds Development group to Mission Engagement and Support is accompanied by a $15,000 expense on the 2017 and 2018 budgets. Although the cost of staff and activities of this group is much higher, De La Rosa explained that the cost for fundraising and administration will be spread across all ministry areas and will be reflected in those groups’ budgets.

Pending approval of the budget by the PMA Board, an agency work restructuring program will be implemented and an estimated 35 jobs will be posted later in 2016 and in early 2017 to complete the agency’s staff. De La Rosa says employees whose jobs were eliminated will be eligible to apply for these positions.

De La Rosa joined the PMA staff in December 2015 and was given the task of understanding the agency, creating a bridge Mission Work Plan and helping it move from a state of financial insecurity to a budget that isn’t dependent upon drawing upon unrestricted reserves. He says staff across the agency, in cooperation with the PMA Board, are to credit for the completion of these tasks.

“Given the extraordinary complexity of this process, people have truly stepped up,” he says. “Senior management worked hard to get to this point and made some difficult decisions. I particularly want to commend the staff in finance and accounting, they have performed superbly during this process and we should all be grateful for them and their service.”

The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board meets April 26-29 in Louisville. Final approval of the budget and Mission Work Plan are expected by Friday afternoon, April 29. Presbyterian News Service will continue to cover this story and post updates when they are made available.

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