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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.

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Testimonial by Tiffany for Capital Campaign >”Building the Beloved Community”<

by Tiffany , Sunday, October 21, 2012
I first started coming to UUSS in the late 80s for the “intellectual stimulation” of the excellent Forum lectures that were held right here every Sunday morning at 9:30.

Sometimes I would look around and up at the banners and it would occur to me, “I think there’s a church here. I should check it out some time.”
The first few times I actually attended services, I found it all a bit odd, offbeat, refreshing, and intriguing. It felt comfortable. I didn’t feel like I had to pretend to go along with anything that was said or sung. Then I found out that since it was summertime, the services were lay-led and were more casual than the regular services that would begin in September. Ah, that explained it.
You can imagine how mystified I was when I came to some regular services later on, and still no crucifixes on the walls, no Bible verses, and sermon after sermon with themes that were so inclusive, so full of universal truths, so understandable, that I began to suspect that people with all kinds of different beliefs and backgrounds could feel at home here.
My own religious background had been very sketchy and eclectic, a patchwork quilt of Church of Christ, Christian Science, Unity, Luthern, Catholic, with a splash of LDS from a period in high school when I sang with the local Mormon Youth Choir (and went on some really fun trips), and Islam, from the years I lived in Algeria and was married to a liberal Muslim in a very traditional family.
At UUSS, at the beginning, it was hard to get straight answers to some of my questions, like, what do UUs believe? Is this a church or not? If anyone can walk in and attend services, what is membership about? There was a phrase I heard fairly often: “we are a community of seekers” and that touched me. I got it. UUSS is like a spiritual half-way house, a place where you can reflect and deepen your learning and draw from all the wisdom traditions to find your own path. So when I met people who had been members for 20-30 years, I thought, “Gee, it’s sure taking them a long time”–because I thought that once you figure things out, you leave and settle down someplace with your “real” faith.
It’s been 23 years now. I joined. My husband Clair and I were married here. UUSS became central to our lives. We’ve been involved in more committees and activities than you could shake a stick. I remember the workshops on Women in Film that changed the way I look at movies. I learned about the power of myth and how to decode the meaning of dreams. What good times we’ve had – at the Millenium Celebration, at an “Offda” Scandinavian Night, sharing some of our Paris adventures at a Cabaret singalong. We’ve danced here. I was in several Theater One plays here. We’ve grieved here and shared the deep, powerful experience of gathering together as a community to remember and say goodbye to dear friends.

Here are some things I’ve learned: you never stop learning; you never stop seeking; people with all kinds of different beliefs and backgrounds do feel at home here; it’s not our beliefs that define us, but our values and actions; Unitarian Universalism is my “real” faith.
I’ve learned that membership matters. The thoughtful commitment we make when we become members, of our time, talents and support, creates a real bond that connects us to one another. I’ve also learned that the more I’ve participated and the more I’ve contributed, the stronger the bond and sense of belonging I feel in return.
It gladdens my heart to see the plans we are making now to ensure that UUSS will grow and thrive for the future generations who will find their spiritual home and haven at UUSS.