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Cemetery Management

Sustainability Matters, Church Edition, Winter 2012




Real Property Asset Inventory and Management

The Catholic Church is one of the largest landowners in the world. Each parish, school, cemetery, and religious institution occupies real property that has a value—and a liability. Liabilities include:

In the US generally, church-held properties are exempt from local property taxes. However, maintaining records of the existence of properties, the location and extent of the holdings, and the valuation of the properties for accounting purposes is still a worthwhile practice.

Many dioceses do not have a handle on even whether properties are properly"titled" in the local jurisdiction's land records. Because real estate is privately "held," and because many church properties are obtained through bequest, the proper titling of the property is an important but often overlooked process until it becomes necessary to dispose of the property. Then, and only then, is the fact that a property is titled to a parish or, worse, to a pastor, discovered.

GIS technology provides a convenient mechanism for investigating how properties are titled, the geographic extent of the property boundary, and development of a consolidated property inventory and facility management system. Research of real property records has historically been a tedious process that involves lawyers and real estate professionals. Use of GIS technology allows this research to be performed much more efficiently, and provides a convenient mechanism for the establishment of a standard reporting and management system.

For facilities on these properties, our faith teaches us that we have a responsibility to work toward achieving sustainability—not using more resources than are needed. Sadly, with an aging Church infrastructure, energy and water are frequently wasted while the indoor environment of the facility may not be healthful. Facilities monitoring technology, such as our SpatialOperations application, can assist in achieving sustainability goals while driving down operational costs.

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