By Carolyn H’Doubler
“I am the church! You are the church! We are the church together!”
I’ve often heard children singing this song which reminds me that all of us make up St. John’s Episcopal Church. That means in addition to bearing responsibility for its mission and ministry, we are also responsible for showing care and stewardship for the upkeep of the physical plant that houses the various ministries. In the August issue of The Record, we began an interview with David Tucker, Chair of the Property Committee. Our interview continues as we discuss additional insights on addressing the various facility needs of St. John’s Church.
David, you mentioned replacement of the HVAC system as the most crucial immediate property need for our church. How is the Property Committee addressing environmental concerns with the anticipated upgrades to our systems?
The anticipated new HVAC system will improve overall energy efficiency compared to our current units. Our electric bill at St. John’s is over $60,000 each year currently. We anticipate a savings of approximately 10% annually after the HVAC changeover occurs and after other energy efficiency improvements are made (including lighting). In addition to being “green” and environmentally-friendly, it is important to note that this energy savings may translate into an even greater future dollar savings as electricity costs increase.
We outlined a number of critical property needs in our previous article. Where do funds come from to pay for major repairs, replacements, and other capital improvements to our buildings?
We maintain a reserve account designated for use by the Vestry and the Property Committee to pay these expenses. This property reserve account was designed to fund our longer-term needs for maintenance, repair, and replacement, as determined using past expense records and previous estimates provided for us by a property consultant. Specifically, we use this account to provide funding for things like replacement of worn carpeting, interior and exterior painting, or replacement of kitchen appliances.
It certainly sounds like the Vestry and the Property Committee have been good stewards and forward thinking.
We have! After a comprehensive analysis of our non-recurring property needs a decade ago, the Vestry has regularly allocated between $30,000 and $65,000 a year to a property account to address these needs. Unfortunately, our aging facility requires an increasing amount of annual financial support, and our reserves are just not keeping pace. The costs for routine property needs and maintenance (about 6% of our annual operating budget) will continue to be paid from the operating budget but we need to specifically address restoring our reserves.