RMA proposes no dues increase in 2013
The Rancho Murieta Association is preparing to adopt a budget for 2013 that will keep monthly dues the same, although basic cable TV programming costs will increase by $2. If the board adopts the budget discussed at last week’s budget workshop, the monthly dues assessment will remain $122.75. Members who subscribe to RMA cable TV will pay $35, for a monthly total of $157.75.
Directors were told the summer recreation program, a staple of Murieta summers for about 20 years, has run its course and the Recreation Committee recommends dropping it and using the funds for other programs. Enrollment has been on a downward trajectory in recent years, going from 200 children to 45 this year. No action was taken on the suggestion.
President Jim Moore introduced the draft budget at Thursday’s workshop by saying, “My only advice to our general manager and assistant general manager was that we try to give the staff a raise this year. Our staff has managed to put together a budget that includes a raise for our employees and still keeps the dues down to no increase.” He pointed out that the increase for TV programming is “a cost that’s imposed on us.”
The draft budget for communications income estimates 900 broadband subscribers, 1,700 basic TV subscribers, and 225 digital programming subscribers for 2013. The marketing budget for cable is reduced by $10,000.
Other reductions in the draft 2013 budget that offset salary, wage and benefit increases for employees include a reduction of $12,000 in the cost of general liability insurance, a $5,000 reduction in legal expenses, and a reduction of $7,500 for green waste. Maintenance Manager Rod Hart said RMA staff had met with county officials and were “fairly confident” RMA will receive permission to compost green waste and use it in the common area to eliminate the green waste cost.
The draft budget shifts funds among the departments “so it still comes out to the same total assessment of $3,415,000,” explained Financial Manager Colleen Hagyard. She said total expenses for the Maintenance Department are up about $48,000. “That’s where the majority of your employees are and so that’s where the majority of those employer costs would fall,” she said. Moore noted that the department accounts for about 70 percent of the budget.
Summer recreation program to end?
Tim Maybee, chair of the Recreation Committee, asked the board to consider using money in the recreation budget for the summer recreation program for other programs. “The committee and staff looked at the cost of doing the summer rec program. It’s been going on for the 20 years I’ve been out here,” Maybee said. “Basically, the population of the folks that are taking advantage of it just isn’t the numbers that we’ve had before. ... The recommendation of the committee is to not have the summer rec program. There’s just a lot of other options for the children, and, I guess, more importantly, the parents out here. ... When we were seeing 200 kids is when there weren’t any other options. ... This last year we had 45. It’s taken us years to attrition down, but you can definitely see the pattern.”
As enrollment declines, the cost per child increases, Maybee said. The $12,800 cost is offset by enrollment fees, and the RMA also subsidizes the program.
Maybee said the YMCA summer program at Cosumnes River Elementary School “is almost identical to ours, but their hours are much more convenient for parents to drop off and pick up before work and after work, while we’re just a morning program so it doesn’t necessarily fill the need ...”
The board didn’t take action on the committee recommendation to discontinue the program.
How to use $300,000 surplus
The board will discuss possible ways to use $300,000 in unexpended funds at the October board meeting after several directors brought the matter up at the workshop. “It’s the members’ money. It’s not our money,” Randy Jenco remarked.
The money was included in the funding plan for the community center and pool project, which failed to get the approval of the membership.
The bulk of the funds were accumulated in 2009 and include $55,000 paid out of the parks fund at that time to reimburse the RMA for taxes it paid on the interest the fund generated since its inception in the early 1990s. The fund finances development of the parks, which are owned by the RMA.
Exclusive use fees challenged
Land-use fees for lots with an exclusive use agreement will be revisited as a result of a discussion Sam Somers Sr. sparked at the workshop. “You want to put a patio on, we’re going to put a $1,500 fee on that. You want to put a spa on your deck, we’re going to charge you $1,500. You want a patio cover, we’re going to put a $2,500 fee on that,” Somers said. “...You want to build a swimming pool in an exclusive use area, there’s a $5,000 fee on that. ... Personally, I find those fees exorbitant for our members.”
Financial Manager Colleen Hagyard said the fees go into the exclusive use fund, which currently has $70,000. “Those funds are specifically earmarked for common area improvements,” Hagyard said. The rationale is since “these members have exclusive use of the land then they should contribute to improving the other common area facilities available to them,” Hagyard said.
Somers said the cost should be in the per-foot charge for the land, not the amenities that are added. “If you’re going to charge these people for that property, you’ve charged them for it. So now they want to use it, you say, 'Oh, well by the way, you want to put a swimming pool on there? That’s an additional $5,000 on top of your pool,'” Somers said.
The additional fees on top of the $2-per-square-foot charge were approved a few years ago.
Architectural Manager Mark Parsons said the $2 charge first appeared in the restated CC&Rs passed in 1996. “Just prior to that taking place, there was a run on common area leases, trying to get in for just a flat fee of $500 to basically grab 1,200 square feet of common area,” Parsons said. “...The feeling was that they were basically putting all of their improvements outside of their circle, or cottage lot or townhouse lot. Those are the lots that can basically apply for the common area lease. ... Basically, they were getting free land is what the feeling was. ... They weren’t taxed on that land at all.”
It was believed that the fees would “balance out the efforts to basically grab those leases,” Parsons said. He pointed out that land use for “the necessary elements” -- propane tanks, trash enclosures and air conditioning equipment -- doesn’t entail fees.
“I just find that some fees are way more than they ought to be,” Somers said. “The fact that you’re saying these people are grabbing this free land, I find that offensive to me as a member out here because there’s something in our rules that says I can take and use 1,200 square feet, and the fact that I do that, and a lot of people have, that I’m grabbing something and taking something, like I’m a damn criminal. And I find that very offensive.”
Scott Adams said he thought the CC&Rs “leave open the possibility to increase that $2 a square foot.” Somers said that sounded more equitable than the fees.
“What difference does it make what’s on that piece of property?” asked Randy Jenco. “It’s 1,200 square feet. It’s either accessible or inaccessible.”
Martin Pohll said legal requirements limit the leases to land that’s inaccessible to the community as a whole, which makes it harder to get exclusive uses now.
Parsons said the lease has to spell out what the land is being used for, and he noted an existing lease came to the board last month to be amended so a pool could be built on the property. The board voted to approve the pool.
“I think I agree with Sam,” Jim Moore said. “If you live on an estate lot and you want to put in a pool, you gotta pay $500. Because of the land you’re using, I don’t know why you should have to pay five times as much, 10 times as much, actually.”
“I absolutely agree,” Jenco said. He added that his first home was on a cottage lot “so in order for me to do anything, I built a pool, I had to have the lease, and the leases were a great idea under that situation.”
General Manager Nick Arther said he thought Adams was right about the possibility of increasing the $2 per square foot fee, and said he would research the issue.
- According to the reserve study, RMA reserves are 96.2 percent funded, “which is outstanding,” said president Jim Moore.
- The draft budget for 2013 includes $30,000 for bad debts, the same amount that was budgeted in 2011 and 2012.
- No funds are budgeted to maintain properties in foreclosure.
If you have money in the common area improvement fund, how about improving the common area behind my house that I have been requesting for 26 years!!!!! We have dead trees and broken water lines that do no good except water areas that have no trees. I have requested some service this year and have not gotten any response from anyone.!!!!!
Thanks...or maybe not!!!!!
I live in a townhome and everything outside is common area. It took at least 4 phone calls and two conversations to get them to even trim the bushes so we didn't look like the okies from Fenokee. And when RMA does come, they don't prune, they lop. So the bushes around my deck just keep getting taller and taller with a bunch of dead stuff in the middle. I asked last time if they could cut them way down like they were when we moved in and the gentleman in charge told me I didn't want to do that because they would be sticks and be ugly. Okay then, they've been pruned inappropriately for years, so maybe it's time to take them out and start over with new bushes, not just let them grow up over my deck.
The sprinklers don't work worth beans - huge areas with no coverage - and when they repaired one sprinkler head they replaced the 2 foot tall wobbly PVC riser that had been put in to be able to spray over the thick grassy bush thing (but was eventually touched by something and fell apart) with one that is about 4 inches tall and doesn't water anything but the thick grassy bush thing and creates a puddle under it. How was that supposed to help?
Now, Rod has told me I can do anything I want in the common area/yard to make it look nice and I really appreciate that. However, I also pay dues just like everyone else to have the common areas maintained so how much of my own money do I want to spend redoing the sprinklers - and, if I change and of that, am I in trouble. Maybe I'll put together and plan and then talk to Rod again or Paul Moss. The once a year pseudo trim just isn't cutting it.
Yes Janet, I understand what you are saying. I also tried to help by getting some sprinkler heads to change when they got clogged up so the trees could get watered. However, what good does that do when the lines have been cut by the mowers and no one fixes them!!!!! They cut the grass down at the lake about every 2 or 3 days...but I can't get any service over here!!!!! It's really getting tiresome!!! That's the reason I voted NO on the community center...if they can't do the maintenance needed now, how would they be able to take care of a new building????
Sounds like everyone could get a $100, one time dues rebate in February 2013. The residue could be placed against reserves.
I am nearly positive we won't do that, so I took the liberty of offering some other suggestions:
1. First select a hotbed issue for 2013. Sorry, swimming pools and motorcycles are already taken
2. Get a legal opinion on that hotbed issue
3. Have a vote on the hotbed issue.
4. Challenge the vote. Cause a re-vote (may also involve a second legal opinion)
5. Form an ad hoc committee to "revisit" the hotbed issue.
7. Table the 2013 hotbed issue until 2014. (may require a vote and third legal opinion)
With the $150,000 remaining, propose a $50 one time dues rebate in 2014. I am sure we won't do that either. Here are some 2014 suggestions:
1. Select a hotbed issue for 2014
2. See #2-#7 above.
As an ardent supporter of the Summer Rec program, I encourage the board to consider some other variables that have impacted enrollment. One is the lack of advertising and available program description months prior to Summer Rec starting. From my perspective, the Summer Rec program has been advertising largely by word of mouth. This last year there was no information about enrollment until the week before it started. Parents make their summer plans starting in Jan. Kids do "age out" of Summer Rec and without advertising and communication about the program it follows that enrollment would decline.
Summer Rec has an, in my opinion, incalulcuable positive impact on the culture of Rancho Murieta. If it were discontinued - what would replace it that offers volunteer and employment opportunities for our teens and pre - teens? I've said for several years that the most valuable experience my kiddo gets from Summer Rec is the mentoring he recieves from the great teens working there. Life changing. Many, many of the teens I know aspire to get a job at Summer Rec because they enjoyed it as a kid. They also want the leadership experience for college applications and a summer gig to make some money. Our Summer Rec teens do a very, very good job. The Y offers a fine and very different program. In Summer Rec we have an excellent vehicle for teen training, volunteering and mentoring. Creating something from the ground up to replace it will take a lot of work, volunteer hours and marketing.
We've done Summer Rec for 5 years and I've watched the program evolve and stretch to try to accomodate the curve balls thrown by the economy and society. The program has done a great job of dealing with the complexities of providing a recreational program. In my opinion - Summer Rec needs more attention paid to it. This isn't a criticism of the board or RMA team. It may be that Summer Rec got tacked on to someone's job description out of necessity. That is the way it's going with the economy. In any case - a community based, kids recreational program is an undertaking that takes a fair amount of forethought, organization and proactive action. It's a lot of work but, as proven by Bridgett, Tiffany Kelly and those before them, it can be done and it can be amazing.
This is a time where we can put our money where our mouths are and invest some of our surplus into creating an outstanding Summer Program for our kids and teens.
I care about Summer Rec and if the decision makers are interested I am happy to volunteer my time and provide an analysis and program outline and timeline of what I think would be a successful, rewarding and cost effective summer program for Rancho Murieta. A one hour meeting should do it. Please contact me if you are interested. email@example.com 916.354.9924
to build a decent pool facility?
I have no idea, but I'll be the board does.
I keep hearing stories about pranksters and minor vandalism, and I wonder if a place to go with some cool water, some shade structures, a soda machine and a juke box wouldn't be a good place for bored kids to hang out and a positive use of the money. At least it would have been when I was a kid, and from what I've seen in small towns all around it still is. Lots of fun in the sun as well as wholesome, organized athletic activities, which this community seems to support with the ball diamonds and soccer fields.
Building such a place isn't rocket science, it shouldn't require a huge outlay of cash for architectural studies and such, so why not?
I remember the groans from those with a pool that anyone who wants a pool should just build one, but that is impractical, elitist and not very community minded. A town of this size needs a pool, even if it doesn't need a full blown community center, so just do it!