I am writing this letter to remind everyone that there is a very important congregational meeting on Thursday night, August 24 at 7 PM whose purpose is to vote to approve the purchase of the third house north of our synagogue. This purchase would complete the many year process of gaining ownership of all four houses north of the shul. The bylaws of the synagogue state that 15% of the households of membership must be physically present and vote in order for the process to be valid, and two thirds of the votes cast need to be in favor to go forward with the purchase. As the sale is currently slated to occur the next day, August 25, this vote is very important. I strongly encourage – actually I implore – everyone to try as hard as possible to make this meeting in order to allow us to move forward into the best possible future for our community. Proxy votes are not allowed and mail in votes do not count towards the quorum. At the very least, you can simply register on site at 7 PM that evening and cast your vote.
Here are some questions and answers about the house purchase for you to consider:
Why are we trying to buy this house?
It has been a long term vision and plan to attempt over time to purchase all of the four houses north of the synagogue to secure land for a future building project. This house is the last of the houses, completing the set. It will allow us to have the most leverage and flexibility in determining the nature of our future building and expansion. It we had not acted now, we would likely be looking at 10 or more years before the house would be on the market again.
How much are we paying for this house, and why this amount?
Our offer that was accepted was for $720,000 in the form of a cash purchase. The house was originally listed at $599,000. Our offer took into account the recent history of house purchases in the Wedgewood area – that is, the amount over original listing that similar houses are being sold for – plus some additional money to guarantee our offer’s success.
How are we paying for this purchase?
We are paying for this purchase in cash obtained from three sources – current synagogue cash assets, generous donations from many synagogue members, and several very large short-term loans from a few synagogue members. Once the purchase has occurred, we will continue the process of securing a mortgage from our current mortgage banker for the amount of the house minus the donations that we have received, which to this point exceed $250,000. We will then pay ourselves back and the generous short term lenders.
We currently own one of the four houses free and clear, and we have mortgages on the other two houses. In addition, we are due to renegotiate the mortgage on our main building. We are looking to combine all of the mortgages into one and to lengthen the time of payment of that mortgage to thirty years. Our combined monthly payment for the three houses will be close to our current monthly payout.
What do we hope to do with the land in the future?
One of the conclusions of the recent five year strategic plan, devised with the input of a large number of community members, is that the synagogue is already too small for its needs. Looking into the future, we are on course for a capital campaign for a building project. The ownership of this land gives us lots of flexibility to build what we want, on an ample amount of land. We can decide in the future to use all of the land or to use some of it and sell the remainder. We can use the land to expand the synagogue and create multi-use space also that could be a positive money source for our community. This decision will be made by our membership at a later date.
What about our other financial needs?
We continue to have other financial priorities, including our recent calls to further strengthen the backing of the assistant rabbi position, and to create a meaningful endowment to support our future. We are also going to be launching a large fund-raising campaign related to the 50th anniversary celebration, as originally planned. All of these initiatives are essential to the financial health of our shul and the spiritual fulfillment of our members. We ask everyone to give as generously as possible to all of these campaigns.
Beth Shalom Board President