March 27, 2005

Springfield bishop seeks deep cuts in budget


By Associated Press | March 27, 2005

SPRINGFIELD -- The bishop of the Springfield Diocese has called for a steep 18 percent budget cut to combat flat income, rising costs, and three years of deficit spending.

In a meeting last week, Bishop Timothy McDonnell told diocesan cabinet secretaries and department heads that the across-the-board cut would be instituted for the new fiscal year, which begins July 1, The Republican of Springfield reported.

Diocesan spokesman Mark Dupont said some programs could be eliminated, but he did not give specifics. He said that McDonnell hoped to minimize the effect on parishes, though Dupont added it is still too early to know precisely what the fallout will be.

Dupont said McDonnell also wants to avoid layoffs, even though personnel costs are a large portion of the overall budget. ...

The diocese has had deficits of $305,000, $1.3 million, and $664,437 in the last three fiscal years, respectively, with annual spending around $20 million. This past fiscal year, the diocese also absorbed the cost of a $7.7 million settlement with 46 victims of sexual abuse by clergy. The money was taken from diocesan savings. The diocese is hoping to recoup some of the settlement costs from its insurance carriers, but said it will be dealing from the loss of interest income for years. Roughly 30 claims of clergy abuse remain to be settled.

The diocese's income has stayed flat as the number of Catholics in the diocese has dropped 31 percent during the past 20 years, from 351,181 in 1984 to 240,730 in 2004, according to church statistics.

Posted by kshaw at March 27, 2005 07:57 AM