NCUA Board: … <i>Friday, board to consider 2021 budget</i>

(Dec. 11, 2020) Final approval of the 2021 NCUA budget, which includes a concerning increase in the overhead transfer rate (OTR), will be under consideration when the agency’s board meets for a second time next week, this time on Friday, likely with its full complement of three members.

The meeting is set for Friday, starting at 10 a.m. ET; it will be live streamed via the Internet.

In November, the agency unveiled a $342.5 million budget that is 1.4% smaller than the approved 2020 spending plan. However, for the following year, the agency projects spending could be increased by 6.3%, reaching $364.2 million.

The 2021 budget also includes an increase of 1 percentage point from 2020 in the OTR – the rate at which the agency transfers funds from the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF) to cover “insurance-related costs” applied to the agency’s operating budget – to 62.3%. The remainder of the budget is funded by operating fees paid by federal credit unions.

NASCUS, in testimony last week before the NCUA Board at its public briefing about the 2021 budget, urged the agency to consider making changes to how it allocates expenses to insurance-related activities, in order to ensure balance, equity and that more funds are available to cover any losses that may occur due to the financial impact of the coronavirus crisis.

“The 1% increase in the OTR for 2021 means there will be $3.3 million less to cover losses by the fund,” NASCUS’s Lucy Ito told the board. She noted that NASCUS recognized its recommendations cannot be implemented for 2021, but that the state system hopes they would be considered for future budgets. “We want to work with NCUA,” she said.

The agency’s budget, often an annual focal point of comment and criticism from within the credit union system, has been the source of some controversy this year as well. At the November NCUA Board meeting, both Board Member Todd Harper and then-Board Member J. Mark McWatters said they could not support the 2021 budget as proposed, questioning some expenses, the decrease in the total budget in the face of the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and the lack of funding for consumer protection compliance examiner staff. “As long as I remain on the board, I will continue to carefully review the proposed budgets and identify those items that are not truly important to the operations and mission of the NCUA,” McWatters said.

A day later, McWatters submitted his resignation from the board, citing the impending confirmation of his replacement on the panel, Kyle S. Hauptman. The Senate voted Dec. 2, 56-39, to confirm Hauptman to the seat held by McWatters, who had been serving in a holdover capacity since his term expired in August 2019.

Hauptman is expected to be sworn in as a board member before next week’s meetings, and to join in board deliberations at that session (as well as the Thursday session considering various final and proposal regulations, among other things).

NCUA Board agenda, Dec. 18 meeting