Back On Track---Fight The Power, Part II

This post was originally published on August 29th, 2005 in I Hate My Developer 1.0

Our association budget seemed like the pretty standard condo budget.

Water bills here, gas bill there---that type of thing. Yet upon closer
inspection it seemed like a few line items were out of hand.

The number one item that caught my attention was the fact that we were
paying over $5,000 a year in lawn and building maintenance.

Yowsa!

When we have able bodied people living on the premises, why
would we pay over $400 a month for someone to come in and cut the lawn,
shovel the snow and clean the hallways?

That's just throwing money away.

I
took the responsibility to draw up a workable maintenance plan starting
with the month of May.

Trust me, my neighbors were not exactly
happy with the prospect of having to get out and perform the sweat
equity home ownership requires. After all when most people think of
condominium living they don't think of having to mop the hallways and
cut the grass.

Unfortunately we didn't have room for such luxuries with
operating margins running so thin.

Only about half of the unit
owners responded to the call, the other half---had, oh how shall I put
this, "other commitments?"

Next up on the budget hit parade was
the cost of insurance.

Our rates had risen sharply since the 9/11
tragedy and were now topping out at around $12,000 a year.

Since our policy
was up for renewal July 1st, I suggested that we start looking for a better rate. How will we know if we're getting the
best price if we're not shopping around.

Note that this is the
insurance our association has had since before the first elected board
took over in 2002. In short, this is the insurance that our developer initially purchased.

The minute our insurance company got wind that we
were looking around, they came back with a quote $3,000 less than last
year's rate. That would firmly put us below the $10,000 mark---a significant savings to the association.

We also applied for a
refuse rebate program run by the city that would reimburse us up to $75
per unit or the cost of an entire year's trash bill, whichever one was
lower.

By now you're getting my drift, we cut the fat were we
could and tried to find "hidden revenue" such as the refuse rebate.

I
knew and subsequently told everyone that 2005 and 2006 were going to be
the "tough" years.

The years where we would find out how bad it truly
was, find a way to fix whatever the problems were and get back on track.
People didn't quite seem to understand the consequences of those words
until we attempted to tackle our first capital project---our crumbling
back porches.

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