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Budget Workshops and Planning Sessions

Budgeting is essential to the success of every community association. Read here for tips on budget workshops and planning sessions.
Wendy Murray CAM, CMCA | Apr 10, 2024 | 5 min read
paper with budget written on it
  

Understanding how to create and maintain a budget is essential to the success of every community association. Unfortunately, however, understanding when and how to budget isn't always easy.

If you're interested in learning more about how your HOA board can manage its money, you've come to the right place.

Keep reading to learn some helpful tips for budgeting and planning.

For community associations on a calendar fiscal year, now is the time to conduct budget workshops and strategic planning sessions! 

The board of directors may opt to appoint an ad-hoc finance or budget committee to facilitate these sessions. Though there isn't a set method for all associations, considering your vision and goals is a great place to begin!

What does the board hope to accomplish during the upcoming year?

Short long-term planning helps with budget development. Projections and plans are typically performed for the upcoming year but can also be performed for the next 5, 10, and 20 years.  

What components are reaching the end of their life?

Reserve schedules often include painting, paving, and roofing. Conducting a reserve study helps with the planning process since life expectancy and reserve funding of the components are projected. 

If there is a component that you are most concerned about, like upcoming repairs and replacement, it's wise to obtain input, feedback, and proposals from at least three different vendors. Proposals can be analyzed, and then budget projections are performed. 

Should your association need to complete capital projects that have not been reserved, you may consider a line of credit or loan. 

A strategic plan helps outline objectives and acts as a roadmap to implement ideas and achieve all goals. Developing a financial and maintenance strategy helps analyze your operational plan and budgets.

Several resources can be utilized during the process:

  • Community Associations Institute (CAI) has an online bookstore for both members and non-members: www.caionline.org
  • Licensed community association manager
  • A professional engineer or reserve specialist
  • Accounting firm

Knowing your goals, plans, needs, and expectations will help you efficiently strategize during the budget process. 

Creating your budget starts with making sure you name the budget and advise what period it covers. For example," 2023 Proposed Budget, January 1, 2023 – December 31, 2023".  

Budget Development Tips

1. Start with the fixed expenses. Review all contracts to determine any increases that may be proposed at renewal and project accordingly.

2. Make budget notes advising how you derived your projections. For instance, if you contacted FPL about projected utility increases, make a note stating you contacted them and what they advised.

Save them with other items, and track what each vendor suggested. You aren’t just pulling numbers out of thin air, you are consulting professionals and doing your best to forecast accurately.

3. Touch base with your insurance agent, utility providers, and all vendors you have contracts with to obtain their input.

4. Calculate bad debt. You can do this by taking the number of owners at the attorney or in collections and multiplying them by the assessment amount and then by the frequency of the assessment.

For example, if ten owners are at the attorney for collections and the association has a monthly assessment of $100, the calculation would be 10 x 100 x 12. $12,000 would be the estimated bad debt. You may have a different formula for calculating it; however, this is just a suggestion.

5. Reserve study updates are often used to review the remaining life of your reserve components, the current condition, and the proposed cost for replacement.

If your association is a condominium near the coast, I suggest contacting your attorney to discuss the new requirements for structural inspections and reserving.

6. The assessment breakdown is typically at the bottom of the budget. There are several ways to share this information. Some associations list the assessment amount per unit type and the frequency.

Other associations may create a column indicating the assessment portion allocated to each line item. It is essential to advise the owners what the payment will be for the budget period, and it is often good to remind them of payment options.

In recent years, we have noticed some delays with mail; therefore, you may want to remind owners they can sign up for ACH or make online payments.

7. A budget is not a life sentence. It is the best financial plan. What is the worst-case scenario? You have budgeted incorrectly. If that is the case, you have another budget meeting and adopt a new plan.

8. FL community associations are required to be zero-based and to propose fully funded to the membership. This means the expenses and income must equal zero.
It also means the budget should fully fund reserves.

The members may vote to waive the funding of reserves or partially fund the reserves; however, it must be fully funded when proposed.

9. Want to possibly find some money? Review your FPL invoices to see if your association is paying sales tax. If so, you can complete a form to submit for a credit or refund as FPL provides associations an exemption for sales tax. They will perform the audit and either credit the account or refund the money, returning to inception!

Go to www.fpl.com for more information. Has your association had several management companies throughout the years or developers? You may want to visit www.fltreasurehunt.gov to see if your association has unclaimed funds.

Often a bank account may not have been closed, or the funds obtained, and the money is just sitting there for your association. It’s a great feeling to find $20 in your jeans and even better to find money for your association!  

10. Don’t sweat it. Just do your best, obtain professional input, and put forth your best-planned budget.

Final Thoughts

If you aren't currently pleased with your management firm and would like to obtain a proposal from us, we would welcome the opportunity to provide one to you for consideration. 

Contact us. We would love to hear about your association and expectations.Looking For Additional Educational Information

 

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