Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Iowa Annual Conference:
On March 12, 2020, the Council on Finance and Administration (CF&A) voted to put in effect the Contingency Plan. Developed in 2017, it calls for the Conference Treasurer to authorize payment of expenses in priority order. All Conference boards, agencies, and departments are to cease spending as much as possible so that only priority operating items are paid such as mortgage and lease payments, utilities, insurance, salaries and benefits, and other expenses deemed necessary for business operations. This Contingency Plan goes into effect beginning April 15, 2020.
There are two events that make this action necessary. First, the lower rate of apportionments received in 2019 required the Conference to use about $1 million dollars out of our cash reserve. The second reason is the Governor’s declaration of health emergency due to the COVID-19 crisis necessitates the cancelling of worship until later this spring.
The cash reserve is the fund that allows the Conference to pay for expenses even when there is not yet the revenue to match those expenses. The policy calls for monthly grants to agencies (except for Equitable Compensation grants) be reduced by half. The Conference Connectional Ministry Council (CCMC) will be asked to determine the ratio of the reduced grant amounts as they are allowed that flexibility under the plan.
The Contingency Plan also calls for no purchases of new equipment or signing of new long-term leases; personnel are asked to monitor spending and reimbursements. One revision CFA made to the policy was changing “no hiring of open positions” to “open positions will only be filled if they are mission critical as determined by the Administrative Team.”
All boards, agencies, and departments have already been asked to lower their budget spending for 2020 and to explore creative ways to reduce their costs. As a last resort, under the policy, CFA may authorize the Treasurer to negotiate a commercial loan if needed. We are hopeful that will not be necessary.
We’ve not ever put the Contingency Plan in effect, so we will all be learning and making the best decisions possible as we go forward.
Jon Disburg, President CFA
Maggie Biggs, Treasurer/Director of Admin Services