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.


Board President’s letter to congregation about May 22 business meeting and our church’s structural budget challenges: member reflection, input, involvement and support invited

[This was mailed to members of UUSS this week.  The original notice of the congregational business meeting appeared in earlier newsletters, but this is more detailed about current challenges and issues for the meeting.  It includes the agenda.  My ministerial memo to the board will soon be posted on this blog.  Thanks for your engagement in these important issues!]

May 2, 2011

Dear Members of UUSS,

We invite you to our annual congregational meeting May 22 at 11:15 a.m., following the 10 a.m. service. (Note that May 22 begins the single 10 a.m. Sunday service for the summer.)  Enclosed you will find the agenda.

Our sixth Unitarian Universalist principle promotes “the use of the democratic process within our congregations.” This Annual Meetings is one of the ways we include the congregation in important decisions, accomplishments, and directions of the church as well elect our officers, board members, and other elected offices.

The board has been working hard this year to implement our strategic directions for “Building the Future:” 1) Long range plans and improvements to building and grounds; 2) Ministry to children and families; and 3) Strengthening connections with new and existing members.  Integral to all of our discussions and decisions is our ability to fund the goals of our congregation.

The Board is asking for your input with the hard work of balancing our budget, which is an expressed goal of both the board and the congregation.  While we are still receiving pledge cards from friends and members, early results indicate strong generosity from year to year.

However, the difference between fully funding our budget and the contributions that have been pledged for the next church year is $93,000.  At present we cannot balance the budget and meet all of our commitments for the next church year. The Board has considered ways to trim the budget that could bring us close to balanced. But some of these are controversial. We need your input. Here are some options to consider:

  1. Should we fully or partially fund our membership dues to the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Pacific Central District?  Or fund them not at all?  Currently they are budgeted at a fraction of the full-funding level.
  2. Should we seek ways to cut back on staff?
  3. Should we consider accepting Rev. Doug Kraft’s offer of taking a month-long furlough from his Lead Ministry duties without pay?
  4. Currently Rev. Roger Jones is on a yearly contract with us.  Should we continue this relationship?  Or should we follow up on his openness to end his ministry with us in December, and plan how to operate programs in his absence?
  5. Should we increase fundraising efforts—have more fundraising events, a direct appeal for member and friend donations, or a supplemental pledge drive?

A group of Trustees will be at church to receive input and answer your questions after the 11:15 a.m. service on Sunday, May 15th in the Fahs room.  Then the Board of Trustees will elaborate further on these issues and ask for your decisions at the May 22 meeting.

We face important decisions.  Please think about them, discuss them with other members, and come to the meeting with ideas for how we can best serve the greater good.

Thank you for making our congregation a vibrant and growing church family.  Together we will make decisions that will help us to meet our common goals and for UUSS to flourish.


Tina C.


[if you do not have her email address, you may post questions or feedback as “comments” on this blog.]