By Amanda Wells
Last year’s General Assembly decided to make significant changes to ministers’ stipends.
Finance Manager Brendan Sweeney says, judging by the questions he’s asked, some confusion exists about the changes and how they will be implemented. Brendan says anyone with queries is welcome to contact him. Explanatory information has already been sent out to parish treasurers, the key points of which are summarized below.
General Assembly decided to introduce what has been termed the New Seniority Allowance. This is a payment in addition to stipend and is based on the number of years that ministers have served. Ministers with two to five years’ service are paid an extra 6 percent of basic stipend, while six to 10 years’ service adds 12 percent, and more than 11 years’ service adds 18 percent.
The New Seniority Allowance is paid by parishes, rather than by General Assembly as has previously been the case. From 1 July 2007, a parish’s Assembly Assessment will reduce by the amount previously paid in Seniority Allowance, which is usually approximately 10 percent of the total.
Parishes will commence payments of the new allowance from 1 July 2007, to be paid fortnightly or monthly with the normal stipend payment.
Another change is that instead of being adjusted by the Consumer Price Index, the basic stipend and New Seniority Allowance will be annually adjusted by the Average Wage index.
Furthermore, General Assembly 2006 agreed that parishes can pay a minister up to 20 percent more than basic stipend without needing approval from their presbytery. Another change is that parishes must review their minister’s financial package annually to ensure it remains adequate.