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NCUA Likely To OK $150M Budget For '04

ALEXANDRIA, Va.-The NCUA Board is expected to approve a $150.4-million budget for next year, a 3% spending increase. The spending plan will maintain the operating fee rates assessed federal credit unions, which will also be set next week, the same as this year, considering the increase in assets for most FCUs. The board also vote on an overhead transfer rate, the rate under which NCUA transfers expenses for the agency annual operations to the National CU Share Insurance Fund. The budget for next year includes average 4.1% pay hikes for all NCUA staff and a reduction in NCUA's workforce by seven positions, bringing the agency's total staffing to an eight-year low of 964. The budget also includes $890,000 for labor relations management to allow NCUA to manage the efforts by employees to unionize, which may include an election.

First Apps Approved For Victims Of Wildfires

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif.-The California league said it had approved 153 applications from victims of the fires in this state, for aid totaling $62,100. At least 18 more applications were scheduled for approval and disbursement of funds as The Credit Union Journal was going to press. The league said the two funds established to provide aid to victims of the fires that charred at least 750,000 acres throughout Southern California have received more than $78,300 from individuals, credit unions, and other organizations.

"As someone who did not know for almost a week whether his own home had been lost, I appreciate the great need that so many Southern Californians now have to try to regain a sense of normalcy in their lives, and the role that these and other contributions will play in helping them achieve that goal," said league President David Chatfield. The league has distributed aid in renewable grants ranging from $200 to $1,000, depending upon factors such as family size and degree of loss or damage. Grants are deposited directly into a recipient's credit union account.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, USC CU is offering low-interest emergency loans to members whose property was damaged in the fires. The loans will be offered at 4% for up to 36 months, with no repayment penalties. Applicants must prove damage to property, family injuries or loss of life related to the fires

$1.5M May Be Added To RLF

WASHINGTON-Congress is expected to add as much as $1.5 million in new funding to NCUA's Community Development Revolving Loan Fund, the eighth straight year for new funding. The funding is expected to be wrapped into a massive bill to fund veterans and housing operations. The bill would split the funding the CDRLF into money earmarked for new loans and for small grants for low income credit unions. The bill would also renew authority for the emergency credit union lender operated by NCUA, known as the Central Liquidity Facility, to borrow up to $1.5 billion in an emergency.

Mich. To Regulate Payday Loans

LANSING, Mich.-Michigan lawmakers are poised to pass legislation which would regulate payday lending in the state for the first time. The bill, coming on the heels of legislation allowing credit unions to provide payday loans, would standardize fees by capping them at $16 per $100 borrowed; set loan limits of $1,000; and require repayment within 30 days, among other things. The payday lending bill comes a month after the state legislature approved a credit union reform package that will allow credit unions to enter the payday loan market by making short-term loans up to $1,000 and capping credit union fees on those loans at $10 per $100 borrowed. Michigan is one of 15 states where payday lending is not specifically authorized by state law.

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