The HVAC System
OPT’s previous HVAC system was outdated and working on borrowed time with replacement parts no longer available. Not only was it inefficient from an energy consumption and cost perspective, but it also did not heat and cool effectively.
In 2021, the Temple learned of a time limited ComED pilot program that included a significant grant to help fund the purchase and installation of a state-of-the-art HVAC system. OPT wanted to take advantage of this opportunity but did not have the funds in its operating budget for this $1 million+ expenditure. The Board voted to borrow from the Temple’s endowment fund.
In addition to the $350,000 ComEd grant, OPT borrowed $1,168,000 from its Endowment Fund, and used $95,000 from its Building Fund to purchase and install a new HVAC system. The Endowment loan was structured to be fully repaid with interest within three years and the Building Fund needs to be replenished.
This repayment is critical not only to meet the terms of the loan but also to fund OPT’s annual operations. The earnings from OPT’s $3 million endowment fund, established several decades ago, provide significant annual support to our operating fund: outside of Community Commitments, the annual endowment distribution represents the largest contribution to our temple’s annual income.
Before the loan, the Endowment Fund provided significant support, in some years over $150,000, to OPT’s operating budget. Having a loan of $1,168,000 outstanding will reduce endowment contributions to our annual operating budget by approximately $60,000. Consequently, it is critical that the Endowment Fund be repaid to rebuild the principal that generates this annual income.
Our new HVAC system is cost-saving and healthier. Smart thermostats have been installed to minimize costs in lesser-used areas. These updates – particularly the improved ventilation – will also allow for a healthier, safer, and more comfortable environment for all of us. Of note, this system:
The Clergy Fund
- Provides high-efficiency, all-electric heating and cooling systems.
- Uses no fossil fuels, thus fully eliminating carbon emissions from the building.
- Utilizes an advanced heat recovery system to maintain space temperatures in the winter.
- Increases indoor air quality by relying fully on filtered outdoor air.
One of OPT’s highest values is to be an inclusive community – allowing all who seek membership to be a part of the Temple. This has been done by offering voluntary annual Community Commitment Contributions, where each household determines the amount it will contribute to help fund synagogue operations. The approach requires extra diligence on the part of the board – the body responsible for maintaining financial sustainability.
As OPT leadership keeps an eye on its finances, anticipating income and costs into the future, it has recognized a need to supplement the Temple’s current income. Community Commitment Contributions, additional donations, and endowment fund earnings will not be sufficient in the future, and an additional income stream is needed to support OPT’s operating budget over the coming years.
With salaries composing the largest portion of the synagogue’s operating budget, the Board decided that it was most critical to ensure funding for a clergy presence at OPT. Therefore, the board has authorized the creation of a Clergy Fund.
The fund is not linked to a particular clergy member or clergy role. It will support whatever clergy configuration is determined by the OPT Board to be appropriate for our congregation based on membership size and affordability.
The Clergy Fund will share some attributes of the general endowment as it will be professionally managed by the same team, and annual payments will be made to the operating budget. These payments will be directed solely to the clergy salary line item. They will include earnings as well as a portion of the fund’s principal.
While the intention of the fund is to maintain adequate support of our clergy in perpetuity, the current Campaign goal ensures funding for the next generation (over 20 years). It is envisioned that continued contributions beyond the Campaign will fortify the Clergy Fund to provide support beyond this time frame.