Landscaping has been relatively uneventful in 2017. We are on target to complete the year at or under budget.
Two refreshes were completed — one is the narrow strip on Via Sempreverde across from the north pool and the other is the mid parking area of Via Sempreverde. The strip across from the pool had new plantings added as it is irrigated. The parking area had repairs made to fix erosion problems and a new coating of granite was added.
We had minimal irrigation problems this year and about half of them were leaks at the south pool. Thanks to all of you who did note a problem and quickly reported it! Please continue to do so. We did have issues with aging timers which resulted in areas getting quite dry before we realized the valves weren’t operational. If you happen to notice an overly dry area, please contact me so we can investigate whether one of the valves is sticking. I will be soliciting help from community members to watch irrigated areas for leaks and failure to irrigate. We have over 9 areas that are irrigated with some areas having more than one schedule associated with it. I’d love to see an owner per area/schedule. If you are interested in helping, please contact me.
We did have an overly active year of packrats — particularly in the 3rd and 4th quarters. This in part was due to our healthy rains this summer. Over 87 nests were addressed. Remember that you can discourage packrats in your yard by ensuring that you keep packrat friendly hiding places removed. This includes stacked bricks and wood, low hanging thick plants such as rosemary. If you leave fruit on the ground from a fruit tree, this will attract packrats as well so ensure you discard any fruit that falls from your trees. Remember you are allowed to keep the area behind your wall weed free if it is flat (up to 12′). Keeping that area clear also discourages packrats as generally they don’t like to cross open areas.
Our heavy summer rains also contributed to active weed growth and over 30 homeowners were notified of weedy yards needing cleanup. All homeowners addressed the problem (thank you). We all benefit from the tidy appearance of our HOA so keep up the good work. Don’t forget that even if you are away, you are responsible for ensuring weeds in your yard are removed in a timely fashion.
Thanks to all of you who help us keep our community looking terrific. If you have any questions about your yard, contact me or consult Yard Rules and Regulations. Also as a reminder you may not trim any trees behind your homes in common area without permission. You can be fined and/or required to replant if you do so. Please ensure you are working with the landscape chair if you need to trim trees for view.
Several board members attended a free webinar on Maximizing Home Values in an HOA. The focus was understanding why some HOAs are inviting places to live with strong home values and other associations are in a state of decline. One of the most important items was a strong Reserve fund. A study by Association Reserves showed home values were 12.6% higher in associations with a strong (over 70% Funded) Reserve Fund than homes in associations with a weak (under 30% Funded) Reserve Fund. You can read more about this here:Reserve Funds and HOA Home Values.. As you may recall, we are contributing more to the reserve fund than we have in years past in order to get us to an acceptable funding level. The Board is focused on the Reserve Fund and an update to the reserve study was recently completed.
Other items that can make a difference in home values within an HOA are as follows:
- Budget Accurately & Honestly
- Maximizing Curb Appeal
- Avoiding Deferred Maintenance
- Avoiding Special Assessments
- Creating a Culture of Transparency
- Building “Community”
- Adhering to Rules & Standards
- Employing accredited, credentialed managers
- Training Board Members
- Teaming up with Knowledgeable Business Partners
All of us can contribute to helping maximize home values in SMVE whether or not we volunteer as board or committee members. Do your part to maximize curb appeal of your property and help us continue to build a sense of community. We’re also always looking for volunteer board and committee members to help. A strong volunteer base will keep our community strong.
The pools are kept sparkling clean and at the proper temperature by Donald Pierce, our pool vendor. They were coated with Pebble Tec this year to maintain their surface and provide better walking. The north pool also had the tiles cleaned. You probably have all noticed that we have have easy exit from both pools with a key no longer being required. This was an important safety change allowing for fast exit if needed.
As usual the South pool will be closed Dec 1, 2017 and will reopen March 1 2018.
Please remember to keep pool gates closed/locked at all times. Do not prop the gate open or prevent it from closing securely — even for a few minutes.
In October, I accepted the Hospitality Chairman responsibilities, having worked the past year with former chairman Teresa Scharf and the Committee members to explore how we can best serve our community. We are grateful for Teresa’s warm leadership and thankful for her easy access to Guy’s information and skills. Thank you both for getting us started! We will continue to have a leader for each event who is both the contact person for the community and usually the idea leader as well. It has been fun for all of us to trust this leader’s vision to determine the event details in different ways. We enjoy working together, we would enjoy supporting new ideas for future events, we welcome your feedback, and welcome you to join us as volunteers.
Each event will be posted in advance on the SMVE website, listing details and the event contact information. In addition, the event flyer will be posted on the mailbox clusters one week ahead. All our residents, whether Owners or Tenants, are always welcome; if you need a ride, just let us know.
*October 20, 2017, 5-7pm at our clubhouse. Event Leader: Carole Stephan
Last year the BOD changed the alcohol policy to allow individuals to bring their own beverages of choice to HOA events. As a result, the Committee planned several “BYOB and Appetizer to Share” social gatherings at the clubhouse. Food is set out for all to help themselves and there is space for people to mix and mingle in the clubhouse and outside under the ramadas (please remember food and drink only under ramadas and in walking paths and never by pool or spa. Also never use glass containers!) We hope people feel free to drop in before or after dinner, or, plan to spend the early evening with your neighbors.
*November 10, 2017, 5pm start at the clubhouse. Event Leader: Pat Larson
There have been requests for a sit-down format, potluck style event so this month includes the BYOB and bring food to share concept, but will require an RSVP to the event leader who will keep a list of the foods coming (appetizer, salad, entree or side dish, dessert) or, ask her for suggestions of the categories needed. The RSVP will help us be prepared with enough tables and chairs inside and outside under the ramadas.
*December 14, 2017. Event Leader Sonja Allen
The leaders of this event love music and a lively party… the “Winter Holidays” is the theme in progress for a BYOB and appetizer even in December.
Hospitality Committee: Sonja Allen, Pat Larson, Diane Meuser, Jane Spalding, Joyce Steiner, Carole Stephan, Susie Struck
In May the North court surface was completely redone. The cracks are gone and the paint looks great. I am going to suggest we put up some sun screens on the east side, maybe just 4 by 8’ latticework or windscreen material, to provide some shade between games when players are sitting. Any thoughts on this would be welcome. The South court is fine, I call it our “Wimbledon” court. Many people I play with have said it is the most beautiful court they have played on. It also mimics a grass court a bit because there are a few places where the bounce is erratic.
Lately there has been very little use of the South court, which is easier on knees, hips and feet. So if you have not, consider trying it. Remember that you can’t reserve courts more than 48 hours in advance of when you want to play. Reservation are not needed after about 11 AM, most usage is before that.
There were no security related incidents reported in the last several months. Earlier in the year the Board voted to eliminate services of Central Alarm during the weekdays and maintained only weekend evening coverage. During the September meeting, the Board voted to eliminate those remaining weekend evening services. This decision was taken largely because the value didn’t seem to warrant the cost given the service rarely identified a problem and hadn’t over the last several years. While there may have been some deterrent factor of the Central Alarm Vehicle driving the streets during the day, we do have an active neighborhood where neighbors watch out for neighbors and many homeowners are walking the streets in the area. We can each contribute to added security by asking the sheriff for a drive by when we are out of time for extended periods. This is a free service.
On September 1, 2017 we changed janitorial service provider. After soliciting bids, we selected Rincon Janitorial as our new supplier. The pool areas are scheduled to be cleaned twice a week, on Tuesday and Fridays.
The “normal” maintenance accomplished since spring was overshadowed by the road repaving and curb repairs that were completed this summer. Prior to that work, the HOA had 16 sections of sidewalk replaced to fix tripping hazards and slabs that had begun to disintegrat. This is the second year in a row sidewalk repairs have been made. Several cracked and disintegrating curb sections were also identified and incorporated into the road repair contract. Finally, we contracted to have a storm sewer catch basin repaired on North Via Velazquez. That work is being done as this is written. While we have fixed all the problems that our survey discovered, please let me know if you have any sections in your area that need repair. We are allotting funds in 2018 for additional repairs if needed.
At the south pool, the HOA contracted for trim to be painted in the shower area. In the same vein, we hope to have all the wrought iron fencing at that pool painted yet in 2017. Quotes were obtained earlier in the year and we are waiting on an updated quote from the then low bidder. The wrought iron at the north pool is in better condition, but is also on the list for painting. Those of you who stay for the summer already know that the entrance doors to both pools were modified so that you can now exit the pool areas without a key. Grill work was installed to prevent anyone entering by reaching around to operate the exit lock knob.
This past year the HOA updated the reserve study and has also improved accounting procedures that deal with maintenance projects that are paid for from the reserve fund. Previously some of this work was done under the annual operating budget. The reserve study (which is available on the web site) has a long-term plan that shows when major maintenance and repair projects are anticipated to be done. Of necessity, that plan loses accuracy after the early years and it is recognized that the timing of projects may well change. This is why we update the reserve study periodically. I encourage you to read it so that you may understand the planning that goes into insuring we maintain our property and facilities.
In last spring’s newsletter I explained that the board was dividing up the maintenance work load so that the overall task is in manageable parts that one person can handle without taking on the entire responsibility. In that vein, I’m looking for someone to help out in the summer when I can’t be on site. The job would primarily involve being “eyes and ears” for the board in my absence, with perhaps a limited amount of watching over any maintenance projects that are undertaken in the summer months. This job could conceivably be shared to further lighten the load. Please let me know if you’d like to help.
As of the end of September 30, 2017, operating expenses as a whole are running below budget by 8%. As fall common area maintenance expenses are incurred, I expect that overall that percentage will drop, but operating expenses should still remain slightly below budget overall.
As expected, the largest operating expenses continue to be utilities, trash collection, landscaping, and repairs and maintenance.
Jan-September 2017 Operating Expense
The north pool area incurred some non-recurring expenses. In June, the lounge chairs were re-strapped at a cost of $3040.00. This was a much-needed expenditure and one that will extend the life of the chairs. Also in June, the north pool tile was cleaned and sealed at a cost of $1075.00, and in July a water heater was replaced at a cost of $1040.00. The south pool area had a pump replaced at a cost of $1305.00 in June. Sidewalk repairs were made in August at a cost of $4036.00. In the future, sidewalk repairs will be a reserve item expense.
Contributions to the reserve fund are at $129,000.00. We are budgeted to contribute $175,000.00, which will be met in December. All of our homeowner dues for 2017 are current and paid in full.
We have been able to earn slightly more interest on both our operating funds and on our reserve funds as interest rates have risen. Year to date, interest income is $1770.00 over last year. It is the board’s policy to keep the operating funds and reserve funds separated, fully protected by FDIC, and to earn a competitive rate of interest. The majority of our operating funds are earning between 0.80% and 0.90%. Our reserve funds are invested in money market accounts earning between 0.75% and 1.10%. In addition, the board began investing in six-month CD’s in order to earn a higher rate of interest. Currently we have a $75,000.00 CD earning 1.06% and a $55,000.00 CD earning 1.37%. The $75,000.00 CD matures in November and will be rolled over into another 6 month CD.
The board is currently working on both the operating budget and reserve budget for 2018.