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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!