Monday, November 26, 2007

Nov. 5 Board Meeting: Assessment, Survey are Key Topics

Before the November 5 board meeting, the Revitalization Committee sent this email out to the residents we have in our distribution list.

Proposed Small Increase in Assessment

This coming Monday night’s board meeting for Kings Forest will be an important one, as the budget for 2008 will be discussed and possibly approved. You’ll want to know what decisions are in play and be there to voice your opinions. Mark your calendars for 7:30 p.m., Monday, November 5.

Here’s what we know in advance of the meeting.

There will be board action around the assessment with a minor increase projected. has been endorsed by the Revitalization Committee, as the community must find sources of funds above the existing budget.

Kings Forest has fallen behind in raising its assessment; for a period of 10 years, there was no increase. While we may have felt that we benefited from that additional $20-$40 per household per year, the effect has been that we missed our opportunity to build a reserve from which we can take funds for repair and renovation, which villages like Fosters Mill have done.

Revitalization Committee Supports Polling the Residents

Raising the assessment will net only a few thousand dollars – which leads us to the next topic for discussion: where we will obtain additional funds.

If you’ve been reading the blog or attending the board meetings, you’re aware that the Board and Revitalization Committee have reviewed the costs associated with the pool and discussed whether we should change the way we operate it as a way to save money. If we move to key access (no lifeguards, swim at your own risk, like the Reserve) we could save as much as $20,000 per year – enough to fund many of the improvements we’re proposing.

But before the Board takes any action related to the pool (including maintaining it at current levels), the Revitalization Committee is urging that it ask the residents what they want. The Committee has advocated that the Board survey residents on their pool usage and their opinions on the key access option. Last month the Committee presented a survey instrument to the board for its approval, which the Board has declined. Since then, the board has indicated it will delay approving or distributing a survey until a revitalization plan is done. The Committee believes this will invite confusion and conflict, as the plan would be developed without financial basis.

Revitalization Plan Should be Reviewed with Residents

Just as with our family finances, the Revitalization Committee believes you can’t plan how you’re going to spend money that you don’t have. Which leads us to the third critical topic for discussion: what we will include in the scope of the revitalization plan and getting resident input on our alternatives.

The Revitalization Committee has met with and gathered ideas and estimated costs from three landscape designers for how to improve our entrances, including enhancements to the hardscape (signage), softscape (plantings) and lighting. We have lots of options for what we can do and how we can phase in these improvements over the next few years. As a community, we need to determine our priorities, based on what money we anticipate we’ll have. Most important, at this juncture, we need to identify the components of the plan, i.e., whether we'll include hardscape, softscape and/or lighting.

This is where the Board and the Revitalization Committee currently diverge.

The Board has indicated in the past month that it is leaning toward not including improvements to our entrance signage in the revitalization plan -- only landscaping. The Revitalization Committee believes residents do want to evaluate what it would cost to improve our signage – including adding signs at entrances where currently there are wooden boards (like Shady Run). The Committee also recommends we include lighting.

In emails this past month, we’ve received an early indication that the Board’s preference is to choose the landscape designer in a closed session without giving residents the opportunity to review the options and give their input.

The Revitalization Committee, on the other hand, is advocating that decisions not be made – such as taking the hardscape option off the table – without asking residents, either by survey or by conducting the selection process in an open forum where interested residents can participate. The Committee also advocates that alternate plans and associated costs be presented to residents for their review and vote.

As far as additional funds are concerned, the Committee advocates that residents be surveyed about their use of the pool in advance of renewing the contract for pool maintenance or finalizing the budget for 2008.