General Assembly per capita funds the national ecclesiastical functions of the PC(USA), including the biennial meetings of the General Assembly, the meetings and task forces the assembly creates, including the GAMC, the church’s court system and constitutional services, the Presbyterian Historical Society and the record- and document-keeping of the denomination.
The per capita increase will fund per capita budgets of $13,848,133 for 2013 and $14,175,084 for 2014. The increases represent a 2 percent budget increase for each year. About $1.4 million of the 2013 budget is designated for 2014 General Assembly expenses.
“These slight increases will keep us from falling backward,” said General Assembly Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons. He said the budget hikes will fund “modest” staff salary increases, ever-increasing General Assembly meeting costs and uncollectible per capita.
Per capita pay-up is currently “steady in the mid-90s (percent),” Parsons said, but fewer presbyteries are able to make up for per capita payments their congregations cannot afford or refuse to pay.
“OGA has no muscle to force payment of per capita except our relationships with presbyteries,” Parsons said. “Some of them just don’t have reserves left to make up uncollectibles from congregations, who are also hard-pressed financially.
“Per capita,” he added with a smile, “is the most reliable source of declining funding we have.”
Parsons reported better than expected results for the 2011 per capita budget. “We budgeted to use $300,000 in reserves last year and only had to use $161,000,” he said, adding that “we have been on a long slow march for the last 10 years to spend down our excess reserves.”
The per capita reserve requirement, set by the General Assembly, is 30 percent of the annual budget. Current reserves amount to more than 45 percent, so the 2013 and 2014 budgets utilize reserves of $528,000 and $857,000 respectively.