ALEXANDRIA, Va. — NCUA’s budget proposal for next year unveiled at today’s Budget Briefing and Public Forum is up 2.97% from 2007 so the agency can add more staff to handle emerging issues.

The agency budget for 2008 was proposed at $156.5 million, up $4.5 million from 2007. A portion of that is for seven new field staff given emerging trends in the real estate market. Some more experienced staff, NCUA Executive Director Len Skiles said, will be shifted to Region V to keep an eye on these trends and head them off before they spread east. “We’re actually increasing the amount of time we spend in a credit union,” he also pointed out.

Additionally, the agency will be purchasing examiners cell phones for next year at a cost of $230,000, a software upgrade will be installed for examiners to submit examination data and share information and emerging trends, and NCUA will be spending $2.7 million on a mandated update to its accounting system.

The overhead transfer rate is expected to drop from 53.3% to 52.3% for next year given increased supervisory responsibilities this year. Consequently, the operating fees are expected to increase around 9.1%, according to Skiles.

The agency finalizes its budget at the November board meeting. Written comments on the budget proposal are being accepted through Nov. 1.