Project Type: Tax-Exempt Financing
Client: Saint John the Evangelist - Little Canada, MN
We are Grateful for CFC's Guidance
BACKGROUND: Saint John the Evangelist is "a small town parish in an inner-ring suburb" according to Father David Kohner, Pastor. The 1,800 families of this, the third oldest parish in the Archdiocese, are today's testament to a long and strong parish history. In 2002 the parish replaced the old school with a modern facility attached to the church. The project required the parish to incur debt of $7.2 million. The parish invited Catholic Finance Corporation (CFC) to assess the current financial position of the parish and to recommend a wise plan to restructure parish debt, with an interest in tax-exempt financing.
PASTOR'S REFLECTION: Our parish had succeeded in retiring a substantial amount of the original debt, but there was a lingering $4.2 million that needed to be dealt with. Parishioners studied the issue and considered hiring a fund-raising consultant. A committee was formed and concluded that, "We'll do it ourselves." God bless the parishioner who then came to us with a million dollar matching challenge. In 6 months we raised a little over a million dollars to meet the challenge, reducing the debt to $2.2 million. Our Business Administrator, Jeanne Messersmith, who joined our staff on July 1, 2007, has been a great asset, managing our parish business while essentially leading us forward in the mission to deal with our debt. One avenue being considered was tax-exempt financing. Although approached by another firm regarding tax-exempt financing, we found Catholic Finance Corporation to be a better fit for us and at a fraction of the cost. Jeanne's familiarity with CFC supported our decision to engage them.
CFC met with the Finance Council, gathered information and brought to us a well-considered, highly detailed, recommendation and plan. Ultimately, they led us through the whole process, prepared the RFP for banks, dealt with the banks for us, handled the paperwork, and appeared on our behalf at the city's televised hearings. As a result, we fully refinanced our debt with our existing bank, but this time we utilized tax-exempt financing for eighty percent of the loan. This combination of a lower debt balance, financed on a tax exempt basis, resulted in our monthly payments being reduced by nearly sixty percent.
Now, we have a sound financing structure, a believable budget, reliable reports, full transparency and our parishioners are much more confident in what they can do. We know that CFC really understands our Catholic tradition, the operations of a parish church and school, knows the church and school business, understands the workings of the Archdiocese and has well-established relationships with the financial community.
"They are experienced professionals who really understand Church, parish life and schools, and, clearly, they walk the talk."
- Father David Kohner, Pastor