Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

Image result for penny wise pound foolishResidents should be concerned about where their Association dues are being spent and whether the Board is sensitive to controlling expenses. The Board has a responsibility to keep dues as low as reasonably possible while at the same time providing the management and services necessary to safeguard homeowner’s investments. That duty also requires that we collect enough to cover all expenses and build a healthy reserve. How do we make decisions about curbing costs? Some things are within our control; some are not.

We are able to negotiate certain services and can contract for a year or more at a time. This is helpful during the budgeting process. However, other items must be considered based on what we believe the cost will be for the coming year. An educated guess is the best we can do.  A cursory look at the budget will reveal some of those items; utilities and common area repairs to name a few. When considering snow removal, we know how much per hour it will cost, but we don’t know how much snow will fall. We do our best to anticipate, based on past experience, how much such items will increase or decrease. It’s rare that an expense will go down.

Our insurance policy runs from July 1 to June 30. Insurance is an interesting animal. Every year our broker asks for quotes from at least three companies. This allows us to compare and choose the best policy for the least amount of money. However, if the Association is involved in a lawsuit, insurance companies will not consider insuring us. This means we have to pay the price our current carrier quotes for the coming year. Believe it or not, most suits against homeowner’s associations are brought by its own members. I’m not sure if they realize they are spending their own money to defend the suits, but that is the nature of the beast.

What can you do to help control Association expenses? Recently a resident suggested a pay-for-use system for the showers similar to charging for use of the washers and dryers. However, the charge for the machines is to cover repair and replacement, not water or the cost to heat it.

Pick up after your dog. If you don’t, maintenance will. However, the company adjusts costs every year to account for how much time they are spending “grooming” the Common Area.

If your idea of “winterizing” is to leave your water running all winter, you are adding to rising costs in two areas. The City of Show Low charges for every gallon of water that runs through the Association’s meter. They use that same number to calculate the sewer bill which means YOU are paying for your neighbor’s unwillingness to winterize properly.

A complaint HOAMCO often hears is that one of the dryers is not working properly. The appliance technician is contacted and HOAMCO is told the dryer is fine. The resident placed too many clothes into the machine so it was taking longer to dry. The Association is charged for the maintenance call and you guessed it, the amount we have to budget for the next year increases.

A few other suggestions to help curb costs:

  • Think twice before threatening your Association with legal action, especially when more efficient and civil approaches are readily available. Any time legal advice is necessary for the Association, you’re footing the bill. This also puts the Association at the mercy of its current insurance carrier that can’t refuse to continue insuring us but can and does raise rates.
  • Leave clubhouse fans on. The fans circulate air helping to keep the clubhouse warm during winter and cool during summer. Opening windows and doors adds to costs in two areas; electricity and extermination.
  • Turn lights off in the clubhouse.
  • Place trash inside, not in front of or on the side, of the dumpsters. Don’t put items in the dumpsters that don’t belong there. Someone has to take care of what you don’t and it’s not free. Neither is dumping large items on other parts of the development.
  • You are probably sick to death of hearing this one, but here we go again. Items that don’t belong in the sewer can be very expensive.
  • Replace broken sewer caps on your lot. This will prevent debris from entering the sewer lines and traveling to the lift station. They can be purchased from Ace Hardware or HD Supply.
  • Last but not least, slow down and drive responsibly to prevent an expenditure on bigger speed bumps or a large payout to an injured resident or visitor.

These are just a few suggestions to help curb costs. If you have additional thoughts about what residents can do, please don’t hesitate to post them in the comments section below.

14 thoughts on “Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

  1. Curious as to what accidents/injuries have occurred involving vehicles in the neighborhood and were they related to speed?

    Thank you.

    Best Regards,

    Barry Wurst Dental Drill Rescue 602-705-8365

    On Aug 2, 2016 4:28 AM, “Whispering Pines – Show Low, Arizona” wrote:

    > lizmccarty posted: “Residents should be concerned about where their > Association dues are being spent and whether the Board is sensitive to > controlling expenses. The Board has a responsibility to keep dues as low as > reasonably possible while at the same time providing the man” >


    1. Thanks for the question. There have been several close calls where residents complained that they had almost been hit by speeding cars while out for a stroll. In August of 2015 a car, traveling at a high rate of speed and in the wrong direction on Hanging Tree narrowly missed a woman who was walking her dog. Many residents complained in writing about it. This and numerous complaints at Annual meetings over the years is the reason the Board took action, but not before considering all prudent alternatives.


      1. I would like to point out something that was not mentioned by the people who complained in writing about the incident regarding the narrow miss on the woman walking her dog. They failed to mention the car’s driver and passenger were 2 young women who most likely did not live in the community and were probably impaired. At the end of Hanging Tree they proceeded across Kathrine St and ran into a tree or large bush, at which point, the passenger got out of the car and swapped places with the driver and they took off again out of the community.This was a complete anomaly and not representative of community residents. I walk many of the streets almost every day and have not had anything approaching a close call. My experience is that most residents are very considerate when passing by pedestrians. This is not to say there are not people driving too fast on some streets and that the HOA does not have to consider the possible liability issues. Also, maybe my experience is not representative so it would be interesting to have others who walk regularly to respond if their experience is similar to mine, or if they have had some close calls.
        Don M.


      2. I appreciate the speed bumps, lives are more important than my car, discomfort or inconvenience. I admit myself that I drive too fast sometimes not paying attention to my speed and speed bumps help me pay attention. Many people have kids visiting and I would not want to injure or kill a anyone especially a child because I wasn’t paying attention. Thank you for the speed bumps.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. For the numerous lawsuits that have been brought against our association, shouldn’t the plaintiffs be responsible for the attorrney/court fees if they lose the case? Why aren’t we countering to recover our costs?



    1. Recovering legal fees when a plaintiff loses is dependent upon the judge so sometimes it’s not possible to do so.


  3. The cleaning schedule for the clubhouse is as follows:

    May through October – three times per week
    November through April – two times per week


  4. I have concerns about water waste, I see much of it having to do with sprinkler and drip systems over watering, not functioning properly or in need of repair. I have observed this in the mornings while walking through the neighborhood.


  5. Most residents want HOA fees as low as possible. Rumors that have circulated such as dog parks, gates, renovations to kitchen etc. will cause fees to increase. The available facilities, including the kitchen (which is only used 3-4 months) have been adequate since WMVV opened. Hopefully the Board will maintain the “status quo” with cooperation from residents who want to make changes.

    The entrance is difficult to see and dangerous when making a left turn at night. This is a safety issue similar to reasons for installing speed bumps. Some type of inexpensive reflector or other precautionary measures to prevent potential serious accidents may be prudent to consider.



    1. The Board established an Advisory Committee last year. Anything new to the Village would need to come to the Board through this committee. This includes a dog park, gates, equipment of any kind (kitchen, exercise, playground, etc.), anything that would change the common area substantially or cost the residents money. The Advisory Committee has a process for these kinds of things and it involves community input.

      Reflectors at the entrance were addressed at the Annual meeting and again privately to some residents. It is on the schedule.


  6. HOA fees need to be devided properly ie: when wmvv started it was to be like woodfield open 6 months. Thus HOA fees should be adjusted for those living here year around and or utilizing their property during the winter months regardless of duration. A example without prorating would be ….. . current fee for 6 month’s Max $1,400.00 …….a day over 6 month’s $2,160.00


    1. The developer never intended to “close” the Village in the winter and it was never marketed for sale that way. It would be impossible to limit a property owner in the use of their real estate. The seasonal burden on the infrastructure, roads, utilities, garbage, clubhouse, etc., is somewhat mitigated in the winter when there are fewer people. The Association fee is an annual fee to each lot owner and is based on costs. For convenience, it is divided into twelve months.


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