Ironicschmoozer’s Weblog

UUSS Campus Renovation & Expansion Project – Cost & Financing Issues–Meeting this Sunday

Frequently Asked Questions for the Congregational Meeting–February 23, 10:30 a.m.

 1.      What is the status of the building project?

As of today, the project is paused, or on hold.  Jackson Construction, the general contractor we have engaged for this project, has provided us with cost estimates for Phase 1a that significantly exceeds the money we have raised to date.  This financial “gap” is approximately $1.1 million.  Before proceeding any further, the members of Implementing the Master Plan (IMP) Committee and the Board of Trustees (BOT) decided it was necessary to pause the project and come up with a funding strategy to close this gap.  This means the construction and move to the Sierra Arden United Church of Christ will not start in May of this year.  A new start date for these events has not been determined.

2.     Where does the gap come from?

The Capital Campaign, sale of the duplex apartments and the identification of UUSS Endowment and Bequest funds resulted in a budget for the project of $2.0 million.  However, Jackson Construction estimates that general contractor costs and competitively bid subcontractor costs for our project will total $3.1 million.  Jackson Construction evaluated our design for a renovated Main Hall/Sanctuary building, landscaping, parking lot and utility repair and improvement–and the costly changes we are required to make by the County–and told us they estimate the project costs would be approximately $3.1 million.  This estimate includes almost $600,000 in infrastructure improvements and costs for parking lot repairs, a new fire hydrant, raising the level of the floor, and sidewalk, gutter and curb installation on Sierra Blvd – all required by our use permit from Sacramento County.  The remainder of the gap is a result of higher construction costs than expected for some of the items, but not all.

3.     What are the options?

The IMP and BOT members have identified 4 alternatives:

A – Raise and/or borrow the additional funds to finance the project as currently designed;

B – Raise and/or borrow additional funds and re-scope the project to match those funds;

C – Re-scope or scale down the project to match only the currently available funds;

D – Stop the project completely.

4.     What is being done now to evaluate the alternatives?

Leadership teams from the IMP/Building Committee and the BOT have initially rejected alternative D.  Due to the time, energy, work and cost already expended, and the great need for repair, upgrade, code compliance and accessibility, it was decided that walking away from the project entirely would be a strategic mistake.  Furthermore, the energy and momentum demonstrated from the calling of Roger as the new Senior Minister indicate strong congregational support for moving forward and growing as a presence in the larger community.  The aging grounds and facilities we have here need to be updated and modernized for the future, and this project is critical to that effort.

A small group of lay leaders has been exploring the option of borrowing from various lenders.  The UU Church in Davis experienced a similar challenge of cost increases with their building project and their members have been very helpful to us in sharing their knowledge and experience.  Members of the IMP team and the Finance Committee have been in touch with lenders and have received indications that we could successfully secure a loan.  In addition, we believe a renovated campus with a new commercial kitchen would result in much higher rental income and would be a strong argument in our loan application.  We also have a strong recent history of annual pledging and giving to the church.

Borrowing for this project would add loan payments or new debt service obligations to our annual budget and the impact of this increase is being analyzed.  The results of pledges made in the current Stewardship Month will be important information to consider our ability to make loan payments.  Our Capital Campaign team is considering options for additional fundraising.

The IMP Committee is exploring new designs for the Sanctuary and Welcome Hall that would reduce the number of structural changes planned in the original design.  This could lower the overall costs.  The use of the RE wing for housing all of our office staff is also being explored as another cost-saving step.

5.      What should UUSS friends and members be doing to stay informed? 

There will be a congregational meeting Sunday, February 23,between the services at 10:30 a.m.  We hope many of you will attend.  This meeting is designed to bring everyone up to date on the project and share more background and context regarding the information in this document.  There will be a brief period to ask questions at the meeting.  Members involved in this project will be available in a classroom this Sunday after the 11:15 service to answer additional questions and solicit ideas and input from you.  Another conversation is being planned for a Sunday in March.  Members should ask questions and share their opinions on the alternatives since this “home remodel” will affect all of us.

This project will transform UUSS for many decades and the support of the congregation is critical to its success.  We all need to be engaged and informed since balancing our annual budget while investing in the future is not just the responsibility of the BOT but one that belongs to the entire congregation.

6.     What is the background of the Master Plan?  What about the Capital Campaign? 

UUSS focus group conversations led to the congregation’s adoption of a long-range plan in 2008.  In 2010 members unanimously approved the 50-year Master Plan for our campus.  The plan included renovation of the existing Main Hall to retain the character of our UUUSS home and to save on the costs of a new structure.   In 2012, a fundraising consultant conducted a feasibility study and then supported us through a successful capital campaign among members and friends.  In 2013 members voted to sell the duplex apartments and use the proceeds for this project.

At 3:00 p.m. Sunday, March 16, lay leaders will hold a Capital Campaign Update.  We will invite those who missed the 2012 campaign.  All members and friends are welcome.


Remarks to the Sacramento County Planning Commission


On our UUSS Master Plan and request for

a use permit for phase 1a of the building project

By Rev. Roger Jones
Unitarian Universalist Society of Sacramento

Monday evening, August 12, 2013

[Following presentation by Jeff Gold, Architect]


Good evening, and thank you for your service.

My name is Roger Jones and I having been serving as a minister to this congregation since 2008.  Currently I serve as the acting senior minister.

Our church was founded in 1868 by 17 families in Sacramento.  Now we are a community of more than 400 adults, children and youth.

In the late 1950s, when we bought our current property on Sierra Boulevard, that parcel and those around it were farmland, with a few houses.  We built our main meeting hall in 1960 and added an education wing a few years later.  Except for those few homes that already stood on large parcels, the neighborhood grew up around us.

The master plan that you are considering today would be our first major improvement and renovation in a half century.  We are excited about it.  Last year, members and friends of the church committed $1.3 million in a capital fundraising campaign for the project.  Gifts ranged from $100 to over $100 thousand.

From the outside, nearly every house of worship can seem like an institution that exists only for its members, with a focus on what goes on inside.  While we do have a caring community in the church, we are also committed members of the larger community.

Many of our local neighbors come over to our wooded campus for a brisk walk or a stroll away from the street.  Some neighbors walk their dogs, push their babies in strollers, or help their kids learn to ride a bike with training wheels on our parking lot.





Several not-for-profit organizations hold monthly meetings in our classrooms.  Often we’re the site for funerals or memorial services for leaders from the local community and other folks who may not have had their own house of worship.

In the 1960s, our church founded a community theater, which continues to stage two productions every year in our main hall, with good attendance from the larger community.

One thing I’m very proud of is this:

At every Sunday morning service we give away half of the freewill donations in the offering basket to local charities.  This is above and beyond what members pledge to the church operations.  In this last fiscal year we contributed $25,000 to 13 not-for-profit organizations through the Shared Sunday Offering and Christmas Eve giving.

During the holiday season we also collect food, clothing, toys and money for local charities.

Along with several other houses of worship, we are a host for Family Promise.  Four times a year we welcome homeless families with children for a week of dinners and overnight accommodations on our classroom floors.  During the day they attend support programs or school downtown.

Personally, I participate in Sheriff Jones’s Community and Faith-Based Advisory Board meetings, and in my first year on the job I attended the District Attorney’s Citizens’ Academy program.

Our annual budget supports 15 full-time or part-time staff members, all of whom are county residents.  A number of our employees live just walking distance from the church, and several families from our congregation are homeowners in the neighborhood.

Our vision of an improved and renewed church campus is a strong statement of our commitment to be involved citizens, responsible stewards, and good neighbors.

Thank you for your consideration of this vision.


TESTIMONIAL by Carrie on CAPITAL GIVING CAMPAIGN LAUNCH SUNDAY, for “Building the Beloved Community”

September 23, 2012


Twenty years ago this month I made a decision that would change my life:  I decided to come to church, here.


When I got here I found a vibrant young adult group, supported by a minister, herself a young adult, who UUSS had hired with funds from a special fundraising appeal. 


Also, 20 years ago, Greg Redmond was moving to Sacramento from St. Louis for his medical residency.  One of his fellow residents was the spouse of that UUSS young adult minister.


In 1993, Greg and I met here in Room 6, right over there in the East Wing.  It was at one of the weekly Sunday evening young adult meetings.  Six and a half years later, we married.  In 2005, our son Alec was born, and a few months later his naming ceremony took place right here.


This place was quite different in September of 1992.  The chairs were a much more bright and bold orange then than they are today.  The reverends John Young and Richelle Russell, the young adult minister, presided over services.  Judy Bell was church president.  Thirty-year old buildings aren’t nearly as worn as 50-year old buildings.  And many of the faces smiling back at me on that Sunday in 1992 are no longer with us.


Still this community – and especially that young adult group – provided me with a special place to come every week to learn about myself, explore religion, and get to know others on a like path.  Those meetings shaped my spiritual life, developed my practice, and in the end, created my family.


In April of this year, my husband Greg told Bud Swank – our capital campaign consultant and today’s preacher – that UUSS is central to my world.  I hadn’t ever thought of it like that, but standing here, I know he’s right.

Our Congregation’s Master Planning Crescendo Builds! Meeting this Sunday, Oct. 2

[written by Barbara]

Wow – it seems like all of a sudden there is a lot going on in master planning. Constantly updated drawings and plans are everywhere! With collaborative input from much of the congregation our architect, Jeff Gold, has made great headway in visualizing a “new improved UUSS.”
The main areas of development in this plan are:

  • – Sanctuary/Social Hall – increasing seating capacity, comprehensive remodeling including a new heating and air conditioning system, substantive remodeling of the kitchen, structurally reinforcing the building to current codes, a fire sprinkler system, and adding support spaces (storage, bathrooms, etc.)
  • – Offices – adding and consolidating office space that includes a reception/greeting area
  • – RE – remodeling and expansion
  • – Parking – reconfiguration and renovation of the entire parking/vehicle circulation area
  • – Grounds and Garden – new landscaping and upgrades for the grounds and streetside appearance (includes a shade cover for the patio, a labyrinth, new entry courtyard, and covered walkway between RE and the Social Hall)
  • – New multi-purpose room with seating capacity for 125 and a new ‘welcome hall’ joined to existing Social Hall
  • – ‘Green’ construction methods
  • – Compliance with current codes for the entire campus

You are invited to attend as Jeff gives a presentation of the plan on October 2nd after the 11:15 AM service.  Childcare and food will be available.
A handout of Frequently Asked Questions and Answers will be available at the meeting as well as on the preceding Sunday (and on our website).
This will be a great opportunity for discussion, and will provide an informational foundation for the Congregational Meeting on October 16th, when we will be asking the congregation for a formal ‘vote of confidence’ about the direction the master plan is taking, and for approval to make a lot line adjustment.
Additional information is available on our website. Also, check out the updates on our Master Planning team’s weblog :