Another Big NCUA Spending Hike Raises Ire Among CUs

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. – NCUA’s plan to boost spending by $24.5 million, or 12% next year, to $225 million, including pay raises of as much as 8%, was roundly criticized by the credit union lobby yesterday.

The spending increase–the biggest ever--comes after NCUA increased spending this year by $23.1 million, or 13%, which was the previous high.

“It’s hard for me to believe when a congressional Medal of Honor winner, who risked his life in Afghanistan, is getting a 1.9% raise next year, that people at NCUA could be getting as much as 8%, said NAFCU President Fred Becker, referring to military pay raises for next year.

He noted that the NCUA pay raises are much higher than the rate of inflation is much lower (1%), and that most federal employees are receiving much lower pay raises.

Mary Dunn, senior regulatory lobbyist for CUNA, worried about adding the new expenses to credit unions, who pay for NCUA’s operations, when credit unions are burdened by the corporate stabilization expenses and the National CU Share Insurance Fund premium. “At a time when credit unions are cutting back and holding down expenses they hope NCUA does the same,” she said.

The credit union representatives were taken by surprise by the big budget increases because last year NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz discontinued the open budget briefings conducted by her predecessors.

Most of the new spending will go to pay for 78 new staffers, including some 70 examiners. It will create a new federally mandated Office of Minority and Women Inclusion; add two economists to the newly created Office of the Chief Economist; and six accountants in the Office of the Chief Financial Officer.

CUNA’s Dunn wondered whether some of the new positions could have been outsourced on a temporary basis at cost savings.

The majority of the new spending, $14.3 million, or 59%, will go to support the new hires, including salaries and benefits.

A new collective bargaining agreement with the union that represents NCUA’s 900 examiners will award employees with 5% merit pay increases. All senior staff will receive the same 5% raise. In addition, staffers in high-expense NCUA offices will receive additional locality raises of up to 3%.

Becker wondered if rank-and-file examiners were awarded 5% raises under the union contract whether NCUA was obligated to pay its executives the same raises.

The NAFCU chief also criticized a $1.2 million renovation of the offices for the CFO, including replacing old furniture, painting and other repairs, saying those kind of expenses should be deferred during a time when credit unions paying the bills are struggling themselves.

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