Monthly Archives: February 2014

Resident Comments During Board Meetings

Post published on behalf of a resident:

Some of you may have noticed that “Resident Comments” were suddenly moved this year from the beginning of the board meeting agenda to the end.  Since board meetings can last a grueling 4 hours, this means that only the hardiest (or retired) residents will hang in there for the whole meeting, so they can finally address board members.

At the January board meeting, a resident asked why the agenda was changed.  When the President responded, she mentioned that she consulted the association attorney who recommended the revision . . . .

Was it really necessary to spend association funds on a legal opinion to decide the order of agenda topics?  Still wondering why the Association’s legal budget is blown?

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Why Did Residents Have to Pay for a Sheriff at the Annual Meeting Last November?

Submitted by marciak1

Those of you who attended the annual meeting may have noticed the presence of a deputy sheriff. One resident asked why he was there and Carol Thompson, the Board president, said Santa Fe Community College provided the deputy. That statement was untrue. The college has its own security force and does not provide deputies for organizations that rent its facilities. The deputy sheriff was hired and paid for by the Association with dues from residents. The purpose of the deputy’s presence was to intimidate any resident who might wish to speak against the Board’s actions. And the Board did not approve this expenditure prior to hiring the deputy.

Rancho Viejo South’s Financial Future

Those members of the South Association Board who ran for re-election last year stated that they deserved residents’ votes because they were not increasing Association dues in 2014. There are many possible explanations for the absence of an increase — prudent expenditure management, luck (we did not have to spend a lot on snow removal in the past year), and postponing or simply not implementing things that need to be done. 

In my opinion, the Board avoided an increase by postponing necessary expenditures, to the detriment 
of the fiscal soundness of the Rancho Viejo South Association.

Page 6 of the annual meeting minutes from 2012 state, “The goal for this year {2013} is the Reserve Study. A task force (with names announced by mid-December) will be put together to request a reserve study and to review the final project. The goal is to ensure that what is contained in the study is what we wanted, and to assess the amount of reserves to be put aside.” No task force was ever formed and no reserve study was done in 2013. When asked at the annual meeting if the study would be done in 2014, the Treasurer said maybe but it also might be postponed until 2015.

Having an appropriately funded reserve is important for any homeowners’ association and without doing a study (that costs several thousand dollars) we will not know if our reserves are adequate. 

Recently a study was started by two members of the Board to assess long-term infrastructure costs of the irrigation system and a recommendation was made to start funding a reserve for these anticipated costs. This would have resulted in a dues increase of $1 to $2 per resident per quarter. As you may know, our irrigation system relies on stored recycled water. A main irrigation line in the North Association broke, requiring repair that was paid for from a fully funded reserve. We have had many problems with pipes and valves leaking in the South and they may need replacement in the future as well. The Board voted in October not to approve an irrigation reserve fund because it would involve an increase in dues. Was that a wise decision? The irrigation system also utilizes a pump, which will eventually need replacement. A reserve should be available for that as well. If the pump fails and we need to user potable water, the cost would be at least $20,000 per month during peak watering times.

A budget is nothing more than a plan and it provides only half a fiscal picture. Expenditures for the past 12 months, with variances from the budget, give a more complete view. Expenditures were not included in the resident package for the annual meeting. Section 7.4 of the Homeowners Association Bylaws requires quarterly financial reports that contain “a variance report reflecting the status of all accounts in an ‘actual’ versus ‘approved’ budget format.” Why would this not be made readily available to residents for the annual meeting? Is this Board truly committed to transparency?

The Board also voted in October to rent a separate office for the Community Manager so he can have privacy. The South Manager has shared an office with the North Manager for several years without a problem. At the annual meeting it was stated that another advantage would be that RVS would have an annual lease, rather than a month-to-month rental, thereby providing stability. However at the December Board meeting it was announced the lease agreement was month-to-month, no different from the prior arrangement. And unless you attended the Board meeting you would never know that because it will not show up in the Board minutes. In 2014, the move will result in additional cost for rent, separate copier and printer, and relocation expenses.

A series of relatively small but unnecessary expenditures add up. 

What serves the interests of residents more — a private office for the Association Manager or a reserve fund for an ailing irrigation system? And why wasn’t the reserve study that was promised for 2013 implemented? 

I believe the Board took a risky, shortsighted fiscal approach just to be able to say they were not raising our dues. That may keep our dues down in the short-term but will lead to large increases in the long-term and possibly special assessments.

We should demand more fiscal transparency from our Board.

New Santa Fe County Sustainable Land Development Code

In December 2012, the County Commissioners approved a new Sustainable Land Development Code for Santa Fe County.  Among other changes, the new guidelines require that all new residential construction attain a HERS rating = 70 for better energy efficiency (see http://www.RESNET.us for HERS).  The commissioners estimate that the new SLDC will take 6 mths to one year to go into effect – new zoning maps require approval first.   The SLDC will affect parts of La Entrada and future developed parcels in the College District area.