2022 Budget - General
- Q. I have been hearing from various sources that our dues are going to go up significantly again in the near future. Is this true and why?
A. The short answer is yes in the next year, with minimal increases for inflation in following years. This single topic has been heavily discussed publicly at both Finance Committee and Board Meetings for several months; all open and honest discussion in public. The Directors did not make this decision lightly, they made it after reviewing several engineering reports before they came to a conclusion. That same information is available on the CCA website for members to review.
a. Operating Expenses: As to our operating costs going up, we are not immune to the annual cost increases of goods and services. We have to watch our spending closely like everyone does to stretch a buck. We will update this answer when we have a factual percentage of what will be contributed to operations.
b. Capital Expenses: Our Capital Reserve account is a holding account where we accumulate monies to pay for asset repair/replacement when the work is scheduled/required. As we receive factual engineering estimates for asset replacement, the percent funded balance of our Reserve Account is dramatically dropping. We project to have an updated Reserve Study prior to the AGM showing actual numbers. The Board desires to never have to operate in financial crisis mode if/when assets fail because of poor fiduciary responsibility.
i. CCA decided to put a stop to the guess work regarding water and road capital replacement last year and hired Engineers to state the condition of our water lines, roads, and pools. Those reports were critically evaluated by the Board who collectively voted to act. You can find those reports on our website under Community: Engineer’s and Consultants’ Reports. Two examples: The 10-year water and roads plan are estimated at $11,292,333 in 2021 dollars. The current estimated cost of bringing on Well 5 (so we have a sufficient and reliable water supply) is $698,625.
c. Bottom line as to why: Because the Association really does have serious issues that require hard decisions, and all of our home values depend on real solutions.
- (Posted 9/30/2021) Q. Raising HOA dues will drive buyers away not attract them. The HOA dues are already outrageous. It will not attract buyers.
A. Thank you for the feedback. The national average for HOA dues is $250.00/month. https://ipropertymanagement.com/research/hoa-statistics . Home sales do not indicate Buyers are being scared away.
Q. We are not a luxury resort. We are a rural community, with modest homes, and middle-class families, and middle-class incomes. Please consider this. It will drive out people in droves raising the dues THIS much, and nobody wants to buy in a community with the home values being fairly low, but the dues being luxury resort. This has to be relative to home values. If we need a lot of money for big repairs, let’s raise the dues for a few years ONLY, and then bring them back down. And put into our rules that no annual increase can be above a certain percentage, definitely not double, or close to double. Please take this into consideration and see how many people are concerned here.
A. Thank you for your feedback. We agree we are not a luxury resort; we are a rural community with modest home prices, with middle-class families who chose to live in a community that provides recreational amenities. Clearwood Community functions more like a small town – we have our own roads and water system. The home prices are the highest they have ever been, median home prices in Yelm, WA are $385K and homes in Clearwood are selling for that and more. What we have seen recently are sales sometimes 10’s of thousands over asking price within days of listing.
The Association isn’t in the business of collecting unnecessary assessments. Unfortunately, the assessments are necessary now. If the assessments can go down in the future, they will. The dues will still be well below the national average of $250.00 per month. The Association came to this decision after extensive public discussion, evaluating all of the facts and researching multiple options.
We agree the membership should be concerned and our future leaders should not allow the continual deferring of necessary capital improvements until the point they are all due at the same time; which is how we got here.
The membership can put in a rule that restricts the increases in dues, however, state law RCW 64.90 would overrule.
Q. How about the police budget they eliminated, and crime has gone through the roof?
A. We believe this question is asking about our “Security Budget which we have, and it has not been eliminated. At the March 27th, 2021, BOD meeting, the Board agreed to suspend rules to discuss the topic of security and crime statistics. The GM presented Thurston County crime statics for years 2018/, 2019, and 2020. The entire discussion can be watched by going to the CCA web site, Board of Directors, Agendas, and selecting the 2021.03.27 recording.
Q. Will the increase in dues be like a bond? When the bill is paid will the dues go back to the regular rate?
A. This suggested increase in dues is like a bond in that it is paying for specific infrastructure. It is up to future Boards to decide how they want to structure Capital dues to ensure infrastructure land amenity performance. What we can say unequivocally is that the assessments being proposed address essential Capital repair and replacement of critical infrastructure, specifically Water and Roads.
Q. Increase this one year? And continue to keep it up?
A. The answer for now is yes. There are factors that can change that answer, such as if the proposed Capital transfer fee measure that is on the ballot this year passes, that money will be used to augment Reserves so when we reevaluate the assessments, we will have to consider the amount that has been collected.
Q. At the last Board meeting, CD’s were mentioned. Can the Association cash those out and use those funds?
A. CDs are where CCA invests our Capital Reserve cash when not in use. These investment funds are monitored to ensure we do not pay any fees for early withdrawal, and to schedule their cash out to pay for planned capital expenses if required. If the CD funds are not required, they are reinvested.
Q. But I thought our Reserves were good?
A. They are not. General reserves is 19% funded and Water reserves are 20% funded. Those percentages put us at the highest risk category for a Special Assessment. Ours Reserves looked better last year until we updated our Reserve Study adding in all of our assets and the factual cost for replacement. What we have now is a realistic picture of our Reserve situation.
Q. Why don’t we increase the water bill to help reserves?
A. The water bills do not contribute to Capital Reserves, they support the operations of the water system. We are proposing a Water Rate Study in 2022 to make sure we have water rates sufficient to fund the operations.
Q. Have you considered how many current residents will not be able to afford to live here with this massive increase in dues?
A. There is no evidence to support your question. However, this decision was not made lightly and was made based on the best interest of the Association and it’s members as a whole. We will be doing everything we can to help accommodate those that need it.
Q. Can individual Projects be voted on rather than the budget as a whole?
A. No, legally the BOD has to put a budget up as a whole to the Membership for a vote.
Q. How will the increased fee compare to HOA’s in WA?
A. Every Association is unique, so it is difficult to compare apples to apples. The National average is $250.00 per month. WA state average for HOA condo’s is $500 a month and Townhomes is $300 a month.
Budget Questions - Management (Posted 9/30/2021)
Q. When were Mitch and Jennifer re-instated, what exactly are their roles & responsibilities and what are we paying them? Are we paying Mitch? He was not in our budget last year? I thought we got rid of Mitch and hired Racheal? Mitch, you were hired to research and implement PPM. You did not honor that contract, nor did you finish out the term you were hired for because of a falling out with the BOD that was current at the time. How are you back on our payroll and what is your role? Okay we are a self-managed community but all we have heard is rhetoric from two ex-Sudden Valley fired managers who do not live here nor have a vested interest. And who left before their initial contract with CW was satisfied. How did this happen?
A. A few individuals raised questions about contracted CCA Consultants (Jennifer Spidle and Mitch Waterman); while the questions are valid several statements made within those questions are factually incorrect and misleading. Though these questions were not directly related to the drafted budget, questions were asked, and we promised factual answers.
As a community whose values are “…honesty, fairness, firmness, equity, efficiency, transparency, common sense, participation, respect, cooperation and neighborliness in all things we do…” we can extend that to our contractors by not slandering their names. Waterman and Spidle are both qualified and fully vetted CMCA professionals in the state of Washington and were both former managers of the Sudden Valley Community Association and left those positions on good terms.
The 2019 CCA Board of Directors publicly voted to remain an in-house professionally managed association. Waterman and Spidle were not hired to research and implement PPM (Professional Property Management), they were hired to bring our staff’s skills, knowledge, and abilities up to professional HOA standards. They fully honored their contract commitments to the great satisfaction of the CCA Board of Directors.
Jennifer Spidle has been the CCA Accounting Manager from initial contract through present day with no break in service. Mitch Waterman was initially hired as the CCA General Manager until he issued a disengagement letter to the Board in April 2020. That letter closed out his initial contract two months earlier than originally scheduled under the terms and conditions agreed upon.
In October of 2020 the Board issued a new contract with Waterman to provide mentoring to train our General Manager. Racheal Paige, a very talented Administrator, who was promoted to be the CCA General Manager, a position that required mentoring and education. Mitch Waterman was hired to provide that guidance and mentoring in addition to Racheal completing formal training.
In November of 2020, the Board increased the scope of contract services to include Project Management. As to the question of Mitch’s role, he is the CCA Owner’s Representative for Capital Projects and is tasked to advocate for CCA throughout the entire capital project planning process, including; project development, design, permitting, construction, and acceptance. The Owner’s Representative serves as a liaison advocating to ensure our best interests are
achieved. The Board approved this position on February 27, 2021 and contracted with Waterman. Mitch is not on our payroll, he is a contracted consultant.
With the exception of the initial 2019 contracts, the costs for both Waterman and Spidle have always been included in the budget. For detailed amounts please follow the link: http://www.clearwood-yelm.com/budgets/
All of these contracts have been openly discussed in public and were voted on by the Board.
Q. How many different outside consultants are we paying for all sorts of different things?
A. Like other small businesses, CCA only employs staff that are essential to our business. For other essential skills and services, we contract. Examples of those services include Legal, Insurance, Risk Management, Project Management, Accounting, Engineering, Water Management, auditing and tax preparation, locksmiths, IT, underground line location, auto mechanics, Arborists, and the list goes on. We only retain the services we need full time, the rest we obtain as needed.
It is also important to note, we will not rely on warm bodies because they are available; when we need to augment with consultants and contractors, we require skilled, knowledgeable, and qualified personnel. Lastly, when we are soliciting a contract for services, we put out a Request for Proposal (RFP) and seek to obtain three bids in a competitive environment. In the current bidding environment, receiving three bids is very difficult so we then strive to validate estimates before awarding any contracts.
Q. What would it take to dissolve the HOA? Is that even a possibility? And what would the community then look like?
A. Dissolving an HOA is a complicated legal action. We suggest you look our Articles of Incorporation – Article 8 and consult an attorney for legal advice. This topic was studied by a subcommittee of the Finance Committee in 2018. Their report, along with minutes can be found on the CCA web site under the “community” tab, select committees, select Finance, and the Management Research Subcommittee tab will appear.
Q. What if Clearwood changed to a non-gated Community?
A. That would take a change in the Covenants . To change the Covenants of the Association it would require a vote of 75% of the Membership.
Q. Can we get online voting?
A. The Board is actively researching this voting option with hopes to possibly implement, if feasible, in the next voting season.
Governance Posted (9/30/2020)
Q. How many signatures do we need to remove a board member?
A. We believe what you are asking is what is the process to remove a Board Member through a Special Election. This is a process well-defined in our Bylaws. We suggest you read them for guidance, http://www.clearwood-yelm.com/documents-and-forms/
Q. If they push this through, and we vote on a new Board whenever their current terms are up, can this insanity be reversed?
A. The Board of directors has the prerogative of setting new strategic goals for the community. They have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure the value of the members equity. They can continue the work started or change the direction at their pleasure. It is important to remember that the Board is not replaced in it’s entirely annually. Positions are filled and appointed on a rotating basis to ensure continuity of CCA knowledge and governance responsibilities.
Q. I would love to help out in the neighborhood but fear getting fined for cleaning up branches and such. Is it possible to loosen by laws so maybe more members would be encouraged to help out more?
A. Have you considered volunteering for our CPC Committee; this is the type of work they do? Also, you wouldn’t get fines for picking up branches!
Operations (posted 9/30/2021)
Q. How is the revenue used from fines, auctioning off the boats that are collected yearly, the $35 additional fee from water bills 4x a year, and the revenue generated from permits people apply for?
A. We do not budget revenue for fines, the goal for the Association is compliance not revenue. The revenue from fines goes into the Operating budget.
This year we will be using the revenue from the auctioning of the boats to clean up the boat yard and dispose of the damaged boats that are still there, the old bikes etc.
The $35 dollar water service fee goes to into the Water operations budget for the day-to-day operations of the Water system.
The ACC income goes into the Operating budget to partially offset the staff cost, milage for the volunteers, the printing and purchasing of the yellow permits, printing and copying of the permits, postage for mailing etc.
Q. Why is administration expense > 8 times more than security expense?
A. This is a good question though it is unclear to us how the factor of 8 was derived. The expenses for both administration and security are based on assigned responsibilities and deliverables.
Q. So it costs more to operate a closed pool than our security budget?
a. The pool is an amenity of the Association and comes with fixed year-round operating costs for electricity, chemicals, cleaning, and maintenance. The pool budget is based upon actual operating costs. For Security, we have assigned a dollar amount that we believe we can afford. Attempts to obtain proposals from private security companies have not been successful. Management and the Board invite the membership to propose options for consideration.
Q. How many salaries am I paying for? Maintenance workers? Office workers? How many salaries? Have we compared their salaries to comparable jobs?
A. There are currently 9 Full-Time and 1 Part-Time staff members. We have 1 Full-T time General Manager, 2 Full time office administrative employees, 6 full time maintenance employees, and 1 part time employee that performs compliance. This changes during the summer when we hire pool staff. Lastly, we have a contracted HR Manager that has completed salary surveys for the positions at Clearwood.
Q. Can we cut down on greatly on full-time employees? That seems excessive. Could be that we pick one project, just one, and allocate all funds to that one project? Put a check in the box and move to the next one?
A. We definitely could cut down on employees, in fact that was a common past practice and was a major contributing factor to our increased deferred maintenance. This is not a recommended action. We have the correct number of staff needed to adequately and efficiently operate the Association. Allocating all of our funds to one project is not an option because several projects have reached a critical failure point requiring, they be immediately addressed. Allowing critical infrastructure to fail is the Board neglecting their fiduciary responsibility.
Q. So how much of an increase are the paid workers receiving?
A. The Operations portion of the proposed budget is $51.46 dollars the rest of the proposed increase goes directly in to Reserves. There is a budgeted 3% increase for staff salaries.
Q. When will the 2019 and 2020 Audit be complete?
A. The 2019 & 2020 Audits are being prepared in tandem to save on costs and time and will be issued on one comparative report. We have requested this be completed prior to the extended deadline for the tax return of October 15th. The Auditor is on track to meet this deadline.
Q. Since we are a non-Profit are there any grants that our community/Board can apply for that may help in alleviating some the costs?
A. We have been unable to find any grants that the Association is eligible for.
Q. How far behind are we due to the embezzlement? How is it measured? What are we doing about the missing $400,00?
A. While our Association did suffer an embezzlement the Forensic Audit that was preformed helped us understand where and how we lost funds, and how sorely underfunded we were to start. Technically speaking we were already behind before the embezzlement occurred.
The Forensic Audit (and having a CPA qualified Accounting Manager) is why the 2020 Special Election occurred: we had to accurately fund the 2020 Budget. An increase was brought to the community, so we would accurately fund operations for the first time in years and to pay a loan back to our General Reserves.
We built and implemented rigorous financial processes and procedures to prevent a recurrence of theft.
All documentation has been turned over to the Thurston County Prosecutor. CCA has done all that it can do, and we now have to let the system do its job while our community moves forward.
Q. I am a camper only with 2 lots, is the new assessment going to put us in a different category?
A. No, all lots are assessed the same per our Covenants IX 1 “The amount assessed against each Lot shall bear the same proportion to the total amount assessed against all Lots as the number of Residential/Recreational Lots subject to assessments. Payment of such assessments shall be due within thirty (30) days after notice of assessment.”
Q. With the budget being as high as it is with the mailbox units, when does the contract expire with the Post office for the units.
A. There is no contract.
Q. (1) WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT THE DRUG HOUSES??? (2) where is any security? (3)where are the speedbumps?
A. (1) We have taken action where we can when we are aware of issues in the Association. If you have specific information, make sure to reach out to Administration so we can address it. Also, if you believe someone is breaking the law, please call law enforcement.
(2) We have contracted with the Sheriff’s department for extra duty patrols. After trying to contract with private companies to no avail. Unfortunately, our budget would not cover a contract for private security to be out here to make a phone call to the sheriff if there was an issue.
(3) There are speed bumps on N. Clearlake Blvd , Parkcrest Lane and the road to Sunset beach. We have asked the Engineers for speed calming strategies. Please keep in mind speed bumps can hinder snow plowing capabilities.
Q. How does the buyers fee work for new buyers to our community? Is it a percentage of their purchase that they have to pay upfront? How are they informed of the fee if we potentially approved it?
A. The Buyer’s Fee is collected in escrow, and while it is a Buyer’s fee, it could be negotiable between buyer and seller. As currently proposed, the fee would be ½ of 1% of the purchase price. If approved by the members, we will notify the Board of Realtors of the new fee and they
are required to inform the Realtors in the local area. Lastly, when a home is sold in a HOA the Title company contacts the HOA requesting documentation which includes all fees due to the Association at transfer.
Q. Can we address these trees and roots that are destroying parts of the road on community property and a danger during windy seasons?
A. We take out trees all year round that are dangerous or dying on Association owned property. If you know of specific trees that need removal, please fill out a Community Property form in the Office and we will get it taken care of if it is on Association owned property. Please know if trees are dead or dying on individual property, the owner is responsible. The 10-Year Water and Roads project will also be removing a number of trees along roads and in cul-de-sacs.
Q. Any budget going towards upgrading the gate system and move away from gate cards?
A. Our Covenants section V. states, “ENTRY GATES “Entry Gates” means front and back gates by which to enter Clearwood with a key card by Clearwood Association members in good standing. There is also a service gate in Division I. Each property owner is responsible for the entrance of guests or service people through the gates. Vehicles over five tons gross weight shall be prohibited on Clear Lake Boulevard North between Vine Lane on the west and Clear Lake Boulevard on the east. In no event shall any member be deemed to be in good standing and thus entitled…” However, we are exploring doing something different, if possible but, there would be a cost to change our system.
Q. Are we conducting external audits on CCA employee efficiency? ROI on conducted versus wages?
A. We do not have external auditors on site performing audits tracking workers performance. We have assigned responsibilities, with deliverables, and two trained managers who are responsible for ensuring productivity for wages paid. The employees are given annual reviews, and we also have a Human Resource Professional on retainer to address performance issues should one arise.
The 2018 Board of Directors chartered a sub-committee (Management Research Subcommittee) of the Finance Committee to perform a study to identify which management operating systems would provide CCA with the best value or Return-On-Investment (ROI). The study validated we could operate at a lower cost/ hourly wage, with greater flexibility, if we remained self-managed as opposed to contracting out to a management company. Achieving that lower operating cost required CCA to train its Management to operate on a professional standard, incorporating professional controls and processes, and training Governance. Those standards have been achieved, and we believe CCA is operating efficiently.
Q. What and where do we go about when you have neighbors that are clearly not in compliance per the RED BOOK. I have neighbors that have so much over grown debris its ridiculous, how do we go about the clean up or them being charged?
A. Please fill out a violation form or contact the Administration office and let them know so we can have our Compliance specialist check on it.
Q. Where are we on liens being filed with the County?
A. We are current. All properties that need liens filed with the County have had them filed.
Q. Is any action being taken on dues that are in arrears?
A. Collections are a tightly controlled legal activity. When we become aware of a potential issue, we reach out to our members to work with them. However, we follow a well-defined process and when necessary, we take collection action.
Q. Is that back log being cleared so people aren’t selling out from under their unprocessed fees?
A. We do not have a back log of unprocessed fees. All fees owed are collected at sale through escrow.
Amenities (Added 9/30/2021)
Why do we need a new building?
A. The current building was built in 1968 and is failing in several areas. The septic has failed, there are electrical issues, the heat and cooling hasn’t worked for years , the parking or lack thereof causes traffic to back up causing accidents, there is not enough space to support the Association’s needs to name a few of the issues.
Q. Why isn’t the pool covered to allow for year-round use?
A. Many members are in favor of the idea. However, the expense is not insignificant when you factor the initial construction cost plus year-round staff and increased fuel/utilities. We suggest members who favor this submit the suggestion to the Board.
Q. Weren’t our meters just replaced a few years back? Why again already?
A. Your meter may have been, there are some meters that have been replaced in the last 50 years, but most have not.
Q. Will there be sidewalks?
A. The Engineering firm has been asked to provide options for walking paths, sidewalks, bike lanes to increase pedestrian traffic safety in the community.
Q. What about basketball courts?
A. We know they need to be evaluated. We have not worked down to that level on our amenities. They require work; however, they are functional. The tennis court was not functional, so it ranked higher. We suggest members who favor this submit the suggestion to the Board.
Q. (1)Why was the pool not fixed when it HAD TO BE shut down for Covid? When y’all were wondering what to do with the extra HOA money last year. (2) When you chose to replace soap dispensers and add in (3) slides at the lakes?
A. (1) The safety issues discovered in August of 2020 were first addressed by our insurance company which required us to keep the pool closed until the issues were resolved. This is separate from COVID. We received our final insurance guidance at the end of January 2021. We
contracted with Engineers to obtain specifications which were acquired in July 2021. August 2021, the BOD approved management to solicit construction bids. Separate from that, management has been working on smaller pool building repairs which include repairing both failed septic systems.
(2) The Board made the decision to place inexpensive disposable soap bottles in the CCA restrooms for the safety of its Members in the COVID environment to help keep the bathrooms open by providing the means for people to wash their hands.
(3)The Board wanted to give the members an amenity to enjoy since due to the loss of the pool from both safety issues and COVID. The money for the slides came out of a different pot identified as Future Reserves, which is money set aside for the purchase of new amenities. You can find the rules about Future Reserves in the By-Laws IV. Assessments 6. B.
Q. If we are not ready to do the water mains, should we not wait on the roads until that time comes? Can’t we do the feeder lines and meters, and wait on the roads until the actual pipe needs to be replaced?
A. The water mains may go another 30 to 50 years, the roads will not, neither will the smaller water service lines that transfers water from the mains to your individual water meter. Leak detection shows our service lines are failing, and the rate of failure is increasing. Given the water lines are buried under and adjacent to the roads, we will need to tear up the roads to replace the service lines. The roads are greater that a decade older than their suggested lifecycle and analysis shows they need to be replaced. By the time the mains need to be replaced, so will the roads.
Q. Our Roads are failing?
A. That is correct, and we intend to have them repaired before they fail. You can find the Engineering reports on the CCA website. http://www.clearwood-yelm.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Clearwood-10-Year-Capital-Water-Utility-and-Roads-Improvement-Plan-Final-1.pdf
Q. How necessary is it to rebuild Blue Hills Dr?
A. The main entrance roads require the most work because they have the most traffic. We are selecting Blue Hills drive as our first project because the opportunity exists to contract with a firm rebuilding a road on the Weyerhaeuser property that runs parallel to Blue Hills Drive. If that contractor agrees to support our work we could potentially save a substantial amount of money.
Q. Well 5/6 started in 2014 and hasn’t been paid for at all?
A. This is not true. All the work performed in getting permission, permitting, and Design for Well 5 has been paid. We are now entering the construction phase which is paid for upon completion.
Q. You are comparing us to Florida?
A. The comparison is of catastrophic events. We would consider not having water to your home a catastrophic event.
Q. Why isn’t the pool drained to save maintenance fees?
A. You can’t drain the pool. Doing so will rapidly deteriorate and destroy the pool. Also, a rise in the water table could “pop up” the bottom of the pool.
Q. So why was a Pickle Ball Court needed?
A. We didn’t need a Pickle Ball Court; we needed a functional and safe Tennis Court. With minor striping and an adjustable net, it can also be used for Pickle Ball which is the fastest growing sport in the nation. For the price of painting, we get a Court that is dual purpose.
Q. So why can’t we have individual house wells?
A. The Association was designed around a common water utility to ensure everyone has sufficient water. Our Covenants specifically prohibit private wells.
Covenants IV. WATER WELL No individual water well shall be permitted in Clearwood and each water user must be connected to the central water system under the ownership and control of Clearwood Community Association as Common Area. The water system shall be managed according to the laws of the State of Washington relating to water systems and regulations of the Thurston County Health District.
Additionally, if our Covenants did allow private wells, the restrictions from the major lenders would make it very difficult for all homes to have a well in this area. FHA Financing has limitations.
Q. Was there discussion on not replacing the pool at all?
A. No, there was not a discussion on just removing the pool. Removing an amenity is not a decision that the BOD can make. This would have to be presented to the Membership for a vote, and the Board has not expressed interest in asking the membership to remove the pool. The BOD has a duty to fix and maintain all amenities.
Q. Can we get Specifics on what Blue Hills Drive Project entails?
A. A complete description of this project can be found on the Association website. This is Project 1 of 12 in the 10-Year Water and Roads Plan. Prepare construction drawings and specifications to remove and replace ~7,200’ of Blue Hills Drive and cul-de-sac roads with new asphalt overlay and the removal and replacement of water service feeder lines and individual water meters in the project area. A full description of this project scope can be found in the 10-Year Water and Roads Plan. We are also discussing pedestrian safety with the engineers. We are planning on widening the roads in areas that need it.
Q. So if you widen the road will you by the land from the homeowners?
A. We will not be taking land from homeowners we will be on Association owned property.
Q. Can we get the baseball field fixed? Or turned into a dog park, or a dirt bike/go cart track?
A. These are great suggestions, please bring them to the BOD for their consideration.
Q.(Asked at Town Hall October 7) Are our new road standards equal to the standards used by the County for building a new road?
A. (provided by KPFF Engineer): The proposed basis of CCA’s Water and Roads design is replacement of the roadways following the existing road widths. The pavement sections proposed are slightly different than county road standards. Our CCA plan will pulverize and compact the existing road base and place a new 2.5” Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA) road on top. The County would demolish and dispose of the existing road base, purchase and install new base gravel, then cover with the HMA road. The CCA pavement sections are substantially equivalent to Thurston County Road standard details.
Below for comparison is an image showing the Option 1 roadway section we developed for this project and a Thurston County standard rural roadway detail.
Q. Please explain why in the 2020 Reserves Study the funded percentage was 82.4% and in the 2022 proposed budget the Reserves funded percentage is 19%. (Posted 9/26/2021)
A. As the elected Treasurer of the CCA I will respond to your recent email to the Board of Directors. I have consulted with the Finance Committee, General Manager, and the Clearwood Community Accounting Manager, who is a CPA, to provide you with the most accurate information.
It’s good to see when Members are analyzing our Reserve Studies. As you know, these are required by WA State Law. Unfortunately, because of that law, many Reserve Study companies work with what data they are given by the Community they are studying. Kinda of like a “rubber-stamp” so HOA’s can say they have these required Reserve Studies. We had a team of Board Directors, Management, and our Joint Partner’s consultants involved in a detailed effort to ensure all CCA amenities were accurately recorded in the 2022 Reserve study. It was amazing to us how many items were not recorded.
The primary issue was that the Roads/Water replacement projects were not included accurately for the next 30 years on previous Reserve Studies. Prior year Reserve Study decisions were made to reflect Roads replacements 20-30 years out, when all of our roads need replacing now since they are many years past their useful life. Therefore, you see the 82.4% funded on the 2021 Reserve Study. Even the costs that were listed were based on a Roads analysis from years ago without recent accurate numbers from an engineering company. That’s part of the discrepancy you noticed. If you look at the Water Reserve Study for 2021 it shows 7.6% funded, which was also inaccurate after we learned the real numbers from the KPFF report. The CedCore 2022 report shows our Water Reserves at 20% funded. Over the course of at least six meetings, our team added the various missing components. This was done at the same time that the KPFF Engineering team was doing a full analysis of the condition of our 16 miles of roads and our water system, along with recommendations for replacement.
The discussion about replacing our roads and water pipes is hardly a new discussion in Clearwood. With the roads at least 10 years past their designed life and our water system leakage above the State’s allowable maximum, with frequent feeder line leaks, very old and inefficient water meters/setters, and the pending unknowns about how the Weyerhaeuser culvert issue could affect our culvert, all these issues had to be addressed by the Board to ensure they are doing their fiduciary responsibility to the Association.
All the KPFF numbers for the 10 year Roads and Water project were added into the 2022 Reserve study. We selected CedCore to do our 2022 Reserve study. They analyzed all the past year Reserve Study data and added in all the missing items we identified over the course of multiple meetings. They then did their own analysis of the useful life of all the amenities and estimated cost of replacement. We also had KPFF give recommendations on the Water Mains. They have an estimated useful life of 50-100 years. Our current problems with leakage are not from the water mains, only the feeder lines and valves. Our water mains could last 30-50 more years based on multiple perspectives. We thought it financially prudent to not include a full water main replacement in the KPFF final numbers. You can see the differences in the project from the 25%, 50% and 100% design reviews from KPFF, all are posted on the CCA website.
Let me give you an example of how much better Clearwood is now accurately accounting for our Amenities. Take something as basic as one of our playgrounds. In the past it was just listed as Hi-Lo playground, for example. With a useful life and a dollar amount. When we really analyzed what components are involved in a playground, we had to separate out each part since they each have a different useful life and cost. The playground structure itself, the border of the playground, and the pebbles all have to be replaced at different times and have different costs. Once that level of detail was added, the Community now has a drastically more accurate accounting of the amenities in the Reserve Study.
The 2022 Reserve Study done by CedCore was just posted to the CCA Website. The General Reserves Fully Funded Balance would be $8,568,498. The Actual Projected (not including the proposed 2022 assessment increase) General Reserves balance is $1,689,175. 20% funded. The Water Reserves Fully Funded Balance would be $6,063,288. Actual Projected (not including the proposed 2022 assessment increase) Water Reserves balance is $1,202,391. 20% funded.
It’s extremely important to remember that while individual Residents, Members, and Social Media Posts can all have their own opinions, this Board decided we were not going to operate this corporation under Clearwood folklore about the Roads/Water situation anymore. We could not have expected volunteers to manage that project, and we were fortunate to have Joint Partners to assist us with analysis of our all of our Reserves. We hired a very reputable engineering firm (KPFF) that has done amazing work and finished the project on budget. The Board has a fiduciary responsibility to the CCA corporation, not to the idea of keeping dues/assessments low. We also have State Laws pertaining to our Private Water System (we are a Private Water Utility Company) that requires us to maintain Safe Drinking Water to our water recipients. Finance committee Members did an analysis of past dues over the years in Clearwood going back decades and could not determine how past dues/assessment numbers were ever tied to reliable budgets/reserve studies, etc.
The Community Members have had plenty of advance notice that Roads/Water replacement were drastically underfunded. For example, please refer to the 2020 Election Voter Pamphlet where it says, “Some Major Asset Costs NOT included in the Reserve Study”. This included mention of costs to replace Roads, Water Pipes, etc. Members were notified of the pending engineering studies of Roads and Water that would have costs that would then be included in the 2022 Reserve Study (completed in 2021).
As you know from looking at our Reserve studies, the 2018 Reserve Study showed us drastically underfunded with our Reserves. It had recommendations of ONE-TIME SPECIAL ASSESSMENTS OF $4260 PER LOT for Water Reserves and $4141 PER LOT for General Reserves. It says that we were at a high risk for a Special Assessment based on their calculations.
Anyone in this Community that has expertise or interest in the financial side of the CCA is strongly encouraged to become a member of the Finance Committee where your ideas can be heard, and you can be part of the Budget building process. Members can also just attend Finance Committee meetings without joining the Committee. The Finance Committee and the Board have fiduciary responsibilities to the CCA and work hand in hand with our CPA to ensure we are meeting those responsibilities to the CCA corporation and its Members.
Bottom line is without Safe Drinking Water and Safe Roads to drive on, our homes in Clearwood would be worthless. CCA now has a plan to ensure the Roads/Water Systems are reliable for many years to come. In addition, this new assessment plan is designed to maintain all of our amenities to the level expected by Members. We’ve sought expert opinions through Engineering Studies, spent dozens of hours each month to make this happen and communicate it to the Community. It’s important for Members to remember that your Thurston County Property taxes are for Bald Hill Rd, Fire, Sheriff’s etc. They do not pay for the water you drink or the road you drive on in Clearwood. We pay for those through our Assessments and finally our Assessments will be accurately aligned with our actual needs as a community.
Clearwood Community Association
Q. The water wells and old asbestos piping repairs or replacement have been a subject and a reason for increased dues for a long time. Why do dues keep going up and nothing is done to stop this from being an issue?
A. You are right. These topics have been discussed for many years. The asbestos piping dates to the original construction of the community. In 2014 Well 4 was closed because of E-Coli contamination leaving the community without a second source of water. Starting in 2014, multiple planning activities were undertaken by volunteers to obtain the second water source. Test well locations were evaluated leading to a final well site being selected on Parkcrest Lane, and a project design was initiated. In 2020 the Board finalized contract agreements for Engineering design, funded a Project Manager, and took steps to place the new Well in service. As of today, we have a state of Washington Permit to build and operate a new Well, design is complete, and we are the preparing to award a contract to construct. These are big expense actions requiring an executable plan with clear and concise specifications, contracts, close monitoring to obtain proper performance to achieve the end goal.
As for the asbestos pipes, the same Board solicited, competitively bid, and hired an Engineering firm to prepare a 10-year Water and Roads Plan to replace our water lines and roads. That report was completed on budget and schedule and is posted on the CCA website. The roads are over a decade beyond their replacement life. The buried service lines that transfer drinking water from the (asbestos) main lines are failing, however, it was determined that the asbestos pipes are only at 50% of their life cycle and are performing as designed, so we do not need to replace them now. They will require replacement in 30-years when roads are expected to receive the next replacement. With the capital dues assessment now being considered, future members will have the funds in hand to accomplish that work. This is the purpose of an audited Reserve Study.
Past dues increases have never raised the dues to the level suggested by our auditors to sufficiently fund our reserves, as such, they have always been underfunded. Let’s be honest, no one wants to be the bearer of bad news. While the percent our reserves funded has been mailed to all members each year as part of their AGM Pamphlet, the impact of that low percentage has not been clearly communicated http://www.clearwood-yelm.com/financial-reports/
Q. If we already completed a 10-year water and roads plan, why are we doing water and roads design plans each year?
A. Good question. The Board contracted with an Engineering firm to evaluate our water and roads to determine current condition, then propose a 10-year sequenced replacement plan based on probability of failure (using approved national standards) and consequence of failure to the membership. The 10-year plan set the map for how we will replace the water lines and roads, it did not design the 10 projects. Those individual project plans are very detailed requiring significant effort in preparing construction drawings and project specifications. When the drawings and specifications are complete, construction companies will be solicited for competitive bids.
- Q. Why doesn’t Clearwood have access to cell phone service yet?
A. Good question. Cellphone service is spotty throughout the community. CCA as an Association is not involved with cell phone service, that is a provider issue.
- Q. What is being done to minimize or eliminate the following unacceptable behaviors, trespassers from entering our community, reckless driving in our community, multiple yards throughout the community needing mowed and cleaned up? Back and front gates constantly being damaged?
A. When members stated that compliance throughout the community was a high priority we listened and hired a part-time employee to perform this Compliance role. We hired this person to tour the community and report non-compliant conditions , including unkept yards, to the Violations Committee. We all want security in the community and are doing the best we can with what we have. Management solicited for a Security Company, unfortunately, we did not receive any bids, so we issued a contract with the Thurston County Sheriff’s department to pull extra duty patrols in Clearwood. When gates are damaged, we file police reports. When we can identify the individuals who damaged our property, we pass along that cost to them. We remain open to community input.
- Q. Zoom meetings take too long and do not provide satisfactory answers to most of these questions. Most of these general questions used to be addressed in the bulletin. Why has that stopped?
A. We are unclear about a “bulletin”? The Association does send out quarterly printed newsletters which are posted on the website, weekly e-blast newsletters, and all Board and Finance meeting minutes and the associated recordings are posted on our website within 7-days of the meeting. We understand the meetings can be long, our own volunteers feel the same. We have started “time stamping” the meeting minutes to make it easier for Members to jump to topics that interest them in the recording. Additionally, we put updates regularly on the website and post on CCA official Facebook page .
- Q. If you prefer members to get info about the management of this community from the BOD or Management, why not be more proactive in addressing the concerns of the members?
A. We do prefer they get their information from Management/Board Governance. We answer every question that is asked. We are not perfect. Things can fall through the cracks. If you (or hear of other members that) do not receive an answer, please directly contact the General Manager, and re-state the question. We are open to your suggestions on how we can improve.
- Do you monitor the things that are being said on the various groups concerning Clearwood?
A. No, we do not, however we do get some interesting questions from members who read them. Anyone with a laptop/smartphone can blog and make any statement. As an
example, no, we are not spending $100,000,000 to replace a single cul-de-sac. No, we are not prioritizing roads replacement based on where our current Directors reside. The Board holds itself accountable to their neighbors and fellow members. At each Board time is set aside for questions from members in attendance. They truly want members having community concerns to ask direct questions and expect factual answers.
- Q. If not why not?
A. Those (social media) pages are not affiliated with CCA and contain comments from individuals that are not even residents or owners here. Our official way to communicate is email@example.com or our official website www.clearwood-yelm.com.
- Why not have the Official Clearwood Facebook site be a place for members to get general questions answered?
A. We do answer questions that come through Facebook. There are buttons to email and message us and we answer both!