More evidence that WTS is hurting for $$$ - change to special pioneer mileage reimbursement
Per a letter sent to all special pioneers in the US:
Previously the Society reimbursed the special pioneers at a flat rate of X cents per mile, to cover the cost of gasoline and maintenance on their cars. If I recall correctly, it may even have been the standard IRS allowable deduction, something like 40-50 cents per mile.
Beginning in 2010, the Society will reimburse for mileage only, and strictly follow a mathematical formula, using:
1) The actual number of miles driven in a month
2) The "average price of gasoline" in the area where the sp. pio. lives
3) The actual number of miles per gallon the sp. pio.'s car gets (not making this up!)
The Society determines item no. 2, the sp. pio. has to send in items 1 and 3 to the Society. Oh, and the limit on miles allowed for reimbursement is 13,000 per year - not sure what the limit, if any, was in the past.
Per the letter, this will result in a drop in reimbursement for the sp. pios., so they are encouraged to car-pool (still not making this up!)
Yes indeedy, our dear sweet special pioneers, if you weren't bitter enough about being kicked out of Bethel involuntarily, being forced to go out in service 130 hours per month when you likely didn't used to do that much in a year, and then trying to live on $600 per month, this ought to do the trick!
More evidence that the Society is really really hurting for money - cash flow, at least.
Placing a maximum 13,000 miles is severely limiting. A pioneer will on average drive way more than that.
And only paying for gas?? That's only half the expense of driving.
If I were kicked out of Bethel and offered this deal, I would make up bogus hours, make up bogus mileage, get a full-time job and get out only enough that the locals believe I was actually doing the recruiting work.
But that's just me.
I'd be willing to bet the society will discontinue the special pioneer work in the near future, or at least quit subsidizing it. If things haven't changed then special pioneers probably "donate" a whole lot less for WT literature than regular pubs, so I would think that special pioneers don't really bring up the bottom line on the Corporate profit and loss statement much, if any.
It's all about the "bottom line", you know. The "ministry" is just a prop, no different from a dead body at a JW funeral being a prop for a Watchtower sales pitch for "you'll get Paradise if you sell our books."
that is significant. assuming a car gets 10 miles per gallon and using the 2010 rate of 50 cents per gallon.....that would mean the sp pio would be getting reimbursed 5 dollars per gallon, covering the price of the gallon of gasoline plus the wear and tear on the car- that is how the sp pio would be compensated under the old way. Now, the sp pio will only get the miles driven, adjusted to the miles per gallon at the rate of the average price of gasoline, let's say 2.50/gallon- so their reimbursement is cut in half.
+++ what Farkel said. This sure does look a lot like a first step toward thinning down the special pioneer ranks.
After all, like this years statistics show - it is not like the special pioneers are actually making many converts, is it?
This looks like a way to weed out more special pioneers. They're expensive to the WTS--not just the $600 per month plus mileage, but also health insurance. Lots of these folks are middle-aged former Bethelites who are probably expensive to insure (and aren't going to get any cheaper).
When you look at the numbers, how much could the WTS really be saving with the new formula? There are probably only a few hundred special pioneers in the USA. Let's assume there are 500 special pioneers, and let's say that this new plan would save the WTS $2000 per special pioneer per year (just a guesstimate). That would mean the Society will save $1 million this year. Now that may sound like a lot to you and me, but I would think it would be chump change for a huge multinational corporation like the WTS--one that pays no taxes, no less!
Like I said above, I don't think the Society's main goal is the immediate cost savings directly attributable to the new formula. Rather, the main goal is to reduce the number of special pioneers who drain millions (perhaps tens of millions) per year from the Society's bottom line.
OMG is on to something important here - in the old days (pre 1975), the U.S. special pioneers had a value as the cornerstones of many struggling out of the way semi-rural congregations. They were usually people who entered this service from the ranks, not so much retired bethelites.
In today's world of larger U.S. congregations, the special pioneers may very well be losing their inherent value...especially if this is just a parking orbit for people the society wanted to get out of bethel service and not a specific need-fullfilling job in the current witness world.
It might even be true that a special pioneer is MORE expensive to maintain for the society than a general bethelite - so it makes sense that they may want to shed quite a few out of the SP ranks in tough economic times.
Agreed on wanting to shed special pioneers. This is probably just step 1 of several cost-cutting moves.
At some point they'll probably either reduce medical and/or dental coverage, or set up a coverage with deuctibles, or something along those lines.
I imagine their thinking is, they look less harsh and mean-spirited by rolling out the changes a little at a time, rather than all at once.
By the way, the female half of the sp. pio. couple assigned to our decidedly non-rural congregation has been quoted as saying, to her husband, "Do whatever you see as necessary, but I'm never going off the special pioneer list, I need the medical coverage!"
Olin Moyles, estimate how many service miles a sp pio puts on their vehicle yearly. Multiply those miles by .5 and that is what the sp pio would have received under the old system. Then try the same but this time take the miles and divide by the miles per gallon rate of the vehicle. Multiply this by, let's say 2.50. Quite a savings for the WT.