Saratoga County

Catholic diocese moves to close $975K deficit

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany announced that three people will be laid off, four vacant posit

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany announced that three people will be laid off, four vacant positions will not be filled and various programs will be consolidated across the diocese to save money.

The goal is to close a projected 2008-09 deficit of $975,000 and it will mean reductions in money for charities, decreased funds for clergy education and consolidating departments.

The layoffs were announced in a memo Friday from the Rev. Michael Farano and coincide with an overall restructuring of the diocese to address declining Mass attendance, a shortage of priests and changing demographics within the diocese.

It’s expected to lead to church closings and consolidations that will be announced by Bishop Howard J. Hubbard in early 2009.

“The economy is suffering and costs are rising. We find it necessary to adopt some budget-cutting measures,” diocese spokesman Kenneth Goldfarb said. “Increasing health care and utility costs are having an impact on the diocese and the general public. We are not immune to the same economic pressures that exist around us today and we are trying to do what we can to cope with them.”

The diocese’s central office has 85 employees on the payroll and its 2007 operating budget was just under $10 million.

“Resources we depend on continue to be strong, but we don’t anticipate they will keep pace with increasing costs we face,” said Goldfarb.

The Bishop’s Appeal, an annual fundraising drive, is a major source of revenue for the administration of the diocese and is expected to begin in some parishes this weekend. In 2007, about $7.1 million was raised.

This fundraising drive is separate from the weekly collections at each church which fund the operation of that single church or parish.

In his memo sent to staff and parishes around the diocese, Farano said: “The fiscal reality is that in spite of a Bishop’s Appeal that continues to do well, one of the best in the country in fact, expenses are far exceeding income from all the sources.”

Yet the diocese has also faced other costs in the last several years.

An independent panel the diocese established for clergy abuse victims paid $2.5 million to 38 individuals as of last year. (The diocese had allocated $5 million for this when it was announced in September 2004).

In August 2004, the diocese was given a $2.2 million bill from former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White, who conducted an “independent” investigation into allegations against Bishop Howard Hubbard.

Diocesan officials say these bills were paid by the diocese’s own “self-insurance fund,” which is financed by donations from parishioners in the 14 county diocese and which is controlled by the bishop.

Diocese officials would not release how much remains in the fund.

Farano said the changes involve the loss of positions and adjustments in other positions. “They are as painful as they are necessary,” he said in the memo. “In general the diocese is in fairly good fiscal health overseen by a very competent and dedicated finance council. That good health will not continue very long if we continue to do business as usual.

“We are blessed with a people in this diocese whose generosity to the annual Bishop’s Appeal has been truly extraordinary over the decades. They have stuck with the diocese and its Bishop through thick and think. Even in the face of such faithful support, costs continue to rise at a rate that increased revenue has not matched,” he said.

Farano outlined changes that will take place as of July 1 to save money:

u The Catholic Schools Board will have an administrative reduction of $50,000 from its 2008-09 allocation from the diocese.

u Catholic Charities will have a reduction of $100,000. (In 2004 Catholic Charities eliminated seven jobs).

u The Family Life Office will merge with the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.

u There will be a $20,000 reduction in the budget for Clergy Education for 2008-09, and funding for this event will be examined in the future.

u The funding for Pastoral Planning will be cut by $60,000.

u Funds for the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, closing for restoration, will be cut by $40,000, which relates to the music program and a position that also provided services to the office of prayer and worship.

However, every department’s budget will have a 2 percent increase for salaries.

Categories: Schenectady County

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