St. Austin Renovation Project Update
The renovation of the exterior of our church and rectory is moving along slowly. That is totally to be expected. We have hired surveyors and had an official survey done of the property. If you see little white marks all over the courtyard and other parts of our property, that is from the surveyors measuring everything around here. We have not yet received the certified survey, as it is still being prepared.
We also had some geotechnical testing done last weekend. After much digging and sawing, three soil samples were taken from locations around our facilities on Sat., Oct. 3. If you used the ramp from the alley to enter church on Saturday or Sunday, you definitely noticed this as you dodged the plywood and cones in the middle of the ramp. One more location was dug up this weekend.
Our architects are working on revisions and changes to schematic drawings. Once this process is complete, construction documents will be produced, city permits will be obtained, and the project will be put out to bid. Usually, when prices come back on the bids there is some adjustment to the plans and some negotiating with bidders.
I expect this whole process to take six or so months. Then construction can actually begin. I have instructed the architects that I do not want to start construction till after Easter. Having lived through church construction projects in Lent and Easter, when we have our largest crowds, I know that is not a good thing. Our entrances will be affected by the construction, and it will take at least till Easter to finish all the preparation and city permits anyway.
Meanwhile, we continue to collect our campaign pledges and reach out to those who were missed or came to our parish since the campaign. This period to collect funds so that we have the cash in hand when we start is very helpful.
I now need to explain about the “cathedraticum.” Basically, it is an income tax levied by the Diocese on all of its parishes. It is how the Diocese of Austin is funded, along with the Catholic Services Appeal and the special collections for seminary education and supporting retired diocesan priests. We pay 9% of our regular income (Sunday collections, sacramental offerings, etc) to the Diocese of Austin. In many dioceses it is higher. However, we have a 12-month (or so) window on our capital campaign that is EXEMPT from cathedraticum. That window runs from Jan.2015 through Jan. 2016. This means any money you have contributed to the Faithful To Our Mission capital campaign already is exempt. We at St. Austin keep the entire amount to use for the renovation project and send nothing of it to the Diocese. That is also true to any pledge payments or additional donations made between now and approx. Jan. 31, 2016. After that, 9% of the pledge payments goes to the Diocese. So if you were thinking about making a pledge payment, if you do so before Jan. 31 of next year, St. Austin will be richer by 9% of your payment. Please note the exemption period covers two US Federal tax years. Just thought you would like to know this.