UPDATE: Preliminary Budget Meeting – February 19, 2018
By Kathy Leslie-Whelan
Monday’s budget meeting was largely a reprise of Saturday’s meeting with a few important changes.
The most dramatic change was a withdrawal of the administrative charges that increased the total owed for paying-over-time members by $350. At least for this year, General Manager Laura Jones stated the additional charges would not be levied. She added that she is not making any promises for next year. Quarterly payments remain cancelled in the proposal, and the payments must be made monthly over the first six months of the fiscal year which commences on May 1st.
Jones stuck by the March 24th date for a special meeting to vote on a $200 dues increase. Buz Whelan pointed out that our by-laws require 30 days notice of any annual or special; meeting. In order to fulfill this requirement the ‘Call to Meeting’ would have to be mailed no later then February 22nd. Ms. Jones disagreed and stated that association counsel told her February 24th mailing would be sufficient.
Speaking for Finance and Planning (F&P), Chairperson Earl Frank insisted there were ways to reduce costs and increase income without closing the community center or compactors. He especially objected to the change in delinquency collection pointing out that our previous collector averaged $265K over the last three years while only $150K is currently projected as the annual total from all new sources. He also pointed to a $60K cost of operating the grill (expense minus income) and excessive cost in maintenance department salaries.
Jones stated the budget is based on a 75% compliance rate. She further stated that according to our auditor we are collecting only 60%. F&P chair challenged that number since we are currently billing out at $1.925M and are collecting $1.450M. Those numbers represent a 75% collection rate.
Many of the membership questioned why they could not have a hard copy of the preliminary budget that was projected on a screen. The numbers projected were not large enough for the membership to see. Jones responded that since the board has not approved it, she could not distribute it. She further said that another meeting will be held in early March where hard copies of the budget will be distributed to the attendees. This document will also be available at the administration building after the open board meeting on Saturday, February 24th. It will also be posted on the official ELA website.
Regarding the compactor, one possibility suggested by Jones was a pay-for-use. Annual or monthly charges could be levied rather than closing the facility. No dollar amount on these charges was mentioned. According to Jones we pay $170K annually for the compactors. Pay-for-use services would only be implemented in the event that the dues increase fails.
One interesting trend at the meeting was that virtually all speakers agreed that a dues increase was needed and probably overdue. It was the way money is being spent, the choices made that was the focus of the objectors.