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WCA Board Postpones Budget Adoption Until After Board Elections

The September WCA Board meeting found directors debating the association’s draft budget before tabling it until after this month’s board elections.

At the heart of the debate were issues of budget surpluses and what levels of retained surpluses the association should maintain to protect itself from future shortfalls or natural disasters.

During the resident forum of the September Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors’ meeting, a resident asked directors to reconsider the rules regarding usage of the tennis ball machine. He said that he would like for his daughter and granddaughter to be able to use the machine. He said that he had checked the policy with other communities like Tampa Palms and their policy was that it was OK for residents’ family members to use their machine. Board President Joaquin Arrillaga thanked the man for his comments and said that since the item was not on the night’s agenda, they would talk about it at a future meeting.

Arrillaga opened the meeting by welcoming new WCA board member, Chuck Hoppe, and thanking him for volunteering to fill Brittany Riefler’s spot on the board. Riefler resigned from the board because she no longer lives in Westchase.

Government Affairs Committee Chair (GAC) Joe Odda provided the board with a summary of the projects the committee has been working on for the past several years. Odda, who is not running for reelection to the WCA Board, said that he had been honored to represent Westchase and that it had been a very positive experience but that he thought it was best to only serve on a board for two terms to make room for new people who would have fresh ideas. Board Secretary Keith Heinemann said the board would really miss Odda, that it had been a pleasure to serve with him and that he had done a fantastic job for the board. Arrillaga also thanked Odda for his work and dedication.

Odda informed the board that the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners was currently holding budget meetings including discussions about funding of transportation projects. He encouraged the board to ensure the GAC continues to monitor attempts to win funding for the Citrus Park Drive Extension.

Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz reported that the association had to cut the lawn at a home that had been in and out of foreclosure for a long time. She said that in the front yard the grass was a foot high and in the back it was at least two feet high but that it looked much better now. She added that new water fountains had been installed at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center on Countryway Boulevard and should be installed soon at the West Park Village (WPV) pool.

August’s tropical storms prompted Sainz to talk to an IT professional for recommendations for keeping the servers in the association’s office safe. She said they had recommended a server cabinet and that the cost for that along with rewiring and installation would be around $1,500. She said that the hurricane plan for the servers was to take them to Greenacre Properties’ main office and store them in the server room there. Arrillaga told the board that Board Treasurer Ruben Collazo had helped Debbie secure the servers before the storms came in and thanked him for his help.

Sainz also told the board the pool repairs for both facilities were scheduled for January and repaving of the parking lot at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center was scheduled for December.

All board members voted in favor of Collazo’s motion to deny a fine appeal from a Greens resident who has had multiple violations over the past year and had not corrected the current violation. They all voted in favor of Ross’ motion to not impose fines for 21 homes where the violations had been corrected; uphold the maximum fines and suspend facility use for two homeowners who had not corrected their violations; uphold fines and suspension for one homeowners unless the violation is corrected by Sept. 30; and impose the maximum fines and suspend facility use for three homeowners but then revoke the penalties if the violation does not reoccur within three months. Ross pointed out that the majority of residents who received violation notices had corrected the violations.

Directors voted to approve the vendor contract for Movies in the Park, which begins in October, as well as the vendor contract for a pooper scooper for the area prior to each movie.

Directors then turned discussion to the WCA budget for 2017. While the draft budget that emerged from the Sept. 6 budget workshop called for decrease in homeowner’s assessments by $2, WCA Manager Sainz distributed an updated spending plan containing four budget revisions to the workshop draft. If adopted, it would have produced a decrease of $22 in assessments. On the expected revenue side, Sainz increased amounts expected from capital contributions by $11,340 over the workshop’s amount ($69,360) and decreased amounts expected from deed restriction violation fines by $12,000 (from $36,000). On the expenditure side, Sainz reduced amounts budgeted for bad debt write offs by $35,933 (down from $46,911) and reduced pool equipment and maintenance by $33,369, by pulling funds originally budgeted for pool maintenance should Facility Manager’s Kelly Shires leave his position (down from $41,013). With the revisions, each homeowner’s assessment was projected to be $269, a $22 decrease.

Click here to view both versions of the proposed budget.

Arrillaga told the board that in addition to the six months of operating funds in its appropriated funds balance, the WCA also had an excess of $332,862. The appropriated funds balance represents funds the association has retained from surpluses it has run over the years. These funds are held in addition to the association’s capital reserves. (Reserves will total $910,000 at year’s end and fund the maintenance and replacement of large items.) The total surplus funds (the six months plus $332,862) equal $1,051,000, representing 8.76 months of the association’s operating expenses. According to a draft budget distributed at Sept. 6 budget workshop, the WCA is also running a surplus for this year of $69,000 through the first six months of the year.

Arrillaga said the amount was in part due to receiving more capital contributions over the past few years than had been anticipated. Sainz said $50,000 of the total surplus came from the cancellation of the junior tennis courts project. Arrillaga said he had talked to the WCA’s accountant and he had said it was OK to have that amount on reserve in case of an emergency or a bad year financially and that it was the accountant’s recommendation to keep the money in reserve.

At the 2015 WCA Budget Workshop, WCA directors cited the accountant’s advice to keep between three to six months of operating expenses in the association’s appropriated funds balance and most present at that workshop agreed that six months should be the goal.

Backing this position, Collazo said that the WCA was strong financially and since they had six months of operating expenses saved up, had fully funded all projects, and had ample insurance, he thought the money should be given back to residents by lowering the annual assessments by $96-97. That approach would cut funds by $334,000 and likely cause a deficit of nearly $200,000 in 2017, reducing the fund balance by about 1.5 months of operating expenses.

Ross said that he would hate for the community to perceive that the WCA had not been diligent with the budget. “Every year the auditor presents his recommendations to us and he’s never said we are too flush or have too much money. It is his recommendation to hold on to the money.”

Ross went on to mention that in her manager’s report, Sainz had mentioned five capital improvement items that the WCA was spending money on. He asked if those projects could be paid for with the excess money. Arrillaga estimated that the projects, plus current expenses for the rest of the year, would cost about $140,000. He stated that the WCA would have “zero cash on hand” if the excess money was refunded.

Director Rick Goldstein asked, “What happens when one big storm hits?”

Collazo said since the WCA was so well insured, he could not think of an instance when the WCA would not be covered by insurance. Following the meeting, Collazo contacted WOW and stated that, in addition to various insurance policies, the association had $50,000 set aside in a self-insured flood damage reserve account and $64,508 reserved to cover insurance deductibles.

During the board meeting directors also pointed out that the The Eagles’ neighborhood association had a legal issue in past years that cost them a half million dollars and that sometimes insurance does pay immediately and the WCA might need cash on hand to continue operating.

Ross ultimately made a motion to table the budget discussion until next month, which passed 4-3 with Heinemann, Goldstein, and Arrillaga casting the dissenting votes. That meeting will occur after the Sept. 13 board elections, which will fill four seats on the board and allow the new board to shape the budget.

The next board meeting is scheduled for Oct. 13, 7 p.m., at the WCA Offices at 10049 Parley Dr. The board will also meet briefly on Thursday, Sept. 15, to elect its officers for the year.

By Marcy Sanford and Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted 12 September 2016

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