It is that time of year to complete the budget for next year which always raises the question from many, “Are the monthly fees going up”? I guess I could end this story quickly by simply saying ‘Yes’, but it is always fun to explain why so we all have an understanding.
I believe we all have a responsibility to each other to maintain the facilities and services that were installed when we moved here. That is our agreement with each other. It is in our long-term best interest to never let facilities become tired, but to maintain those facilities and services to meet the expectation of all of us and future residents. This way property values stay as high as possible and we all get to use the services for our own enjoyment.
Budgeting then becomes the art of maintaining the facility in the most efficient way possible, without sacrificing long term benefit. Too often cuts are made which can then lead to diminished care, something that needs to be avoided.
Understanding that we don’t want to sacrifice quality, if all things remain equal, given that costs go up each year, to maintain the facility at an equal level we need to match those cost increases so that we don’t reduce quality and services. Reduction of quality and services will ultimately lead to lower property values.
Inflation is currently about 2.7%. That means we can count on costs probably going up about 2.7% next year, which means to maintain the facility at its current level we will need to increase monthly dues at least 2.7%. I have always been an advocate of modest, responsible increases that match inflation to maintain facilities and services. A 2.7% increase would mean a monthly increase of about $7 per month. That would be my goal. I much prefer steady, inflationary increases long term that we can plan for rather than some years with no increase and then some years with high increases. When people come to buy your home, they want to see responsible financial planning with no assessments. When people can plan on the future, and can see history to support that planning, home values will then stay as high as possible.
Given that goal, our first task is to maintain current facilities and services, and only after that can we discuss increasing services which will lead to an increase in costs. Such increases need to be in the best interest of the greater good and not just a benefit to a few. Costs can creep up when new services are put into place that only benefit a few, even though all residents pay for the subsidy. Let’s use caution on any new services which will increase costs to everyone, and keep in mind, our first responsibility to each of us is to maintain existing facilities well before taking on new projects which will only increase monthly costs over time.
The final budget meeting will be 10/23/18 when all the details will be finalized so Board may approve the Budget for 2019 at the October meeting. The meeting on 10/23/18 is open to all homeowners so please attend if you have comments or suggestions on the future planning. If you are not available, please write to the Board with any suggestions or comments.