1st January 2009 began Year One for the new approach to funding the deaneries (or ‘mission areas’) of the diocese. The historic income and central costs are apportioned out to each mission area which is then meant to have a balanced budget; fees and contributions from parishes are added to one side of the account and the cost of deploying stipendiary clergy is added to the other. There have been four ‘transitional years’ 2004-8 to get us ready for this.
Some mission areas have shown a surplus in the transitional period; although increases in parish contributions and cuts in clergy posts will be major factors, this is most likely to be because more historic income was allocated than turned out to be needed and/or vacancies substantially reduced expenditure. Some mission areas have been in deficit; in our case this has been because the one remaining change to achieve an immediately affordable mission area plan (MAP) involves bringing together two neighbouring parishes for which we have to continue to fund a second post until one of the parish priests moves or retires.
Running a balanced budget for 2009 is down to people like me, and my guess is that we will achieve it (mainly through substantial subsidy from the historic resources of the diocese and through severe cuts in clergy posts duringt he transitional period). But most of the factors involved are actually totally out of our control. I’ve twice heard the Diocesan Secretary say that some of the deficits from the transitional period will be carried forward as debts into 2009 but haven’t been able to persuade anyone to tell us what the position will be for this mission area, so we don’t even know what out opening balance is. The largest parish sits most lightly to any external ecclesiastical bureaucratic interference and hasn’t told us what it would hope to contribute in 2009. The church which contributes most has said what it will pay, but it has added a footnote that this might be less if urgent repairs are begun before the end of the year. We know we’ll continue to be charged for the filled post which is not part of our MAP, but we don’t know how much we’ll be charged for vacant posts which are part of our MAP because we don’t know how soon they will be filled. Heh, ho.