WASHINGTON (11/11/08)—In troubled times, such as the nation and its credit unions currently face, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) should approach its budget with a sense of austerity, according to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). CUNA sent letters to each NCUA board member Friday commenting on the NCUA’s proposed 2009 budget. The NCUA has projected a 15% increase next year to $182.9 million. In its letter, signed by President/CEO Dan Mica, CUNA reminded the federal regulators that CUNA has a long-standing policy of supporting sufficient resources for NCUA. Mica wrote it is CUNA’s view that the entire credit union system benefits when the agency is able to perform its job well, thereby facilitating the safety and soundness of federally insured credit unions. However, Mica pledged that CUNA always will urge the agency to achieve efficiencies and minimize costs. The CUNA letter added that the group has several major concerns regarding the proposed 2009 budget the NCUA Board is scheduled to consider at its Nov. 20 open meeting. The proposed 15% increase, in part, encompasses 84 new full-time equivalent employees. “CUNA does not oppose all of the increases, but we seriously question the manner in which NCUA is proposing to expand its available resources,” the Mica letter noted. For instance, CUNA has “serious concerns” regarding the agency’s plan to add such a significant number of new employees. Other options should first be considered, CUNA said, including whether the agency can rely more heavily on part-time and contract workers, or shift examiners from one region to another that is more hard hit by the country’s economic problems. Mica also questioned the agency’s projected benchmark raise of over 6% for pay and relocation costs for agency staff. He asked the regulators to bear in mind that those increases would be funded by federal credit unions, a number of which will not be able to afford such increases for their own employees. CUNA also asked the NCUA board to reconsider its intention to budget $300,000 over two years for the 75th Anniversary of the Federal Credit Union Act. “We doubt NCUA would condone a credit union spending such a relatively sizeable amount on a celebration when safety and soundness concerns required funds to be allocated elsewhere,” Mica wrote explaining the concern. Use the resource link below to read the comprehensive comment letter sent by CUNA.