Monday, March 4, 2013


The U.S Government may be having trouble balancing its budget, but it appears from the following report that the Boards of Farmington Woods see no urgent need for austerity, at least not when it comes to our golf operation. There always seems to be an endless supply of Fifty-thousand dollar bills laying around for "strategic planning", cart paths and golf infrastructure. 

I realize some of our leaders believe the Long Range Strategic Plan is still in place, despite its being soundly defeated by 2-1 margin last May, but there are other needs like providing safe sidewalks for walkers, a playscape for children or upgrading our ageing pool areas, that never seem to make the Public Works priority list. 

Maybe we'll be surprised when the actual budget comes out. Maybe some of the increased revenue will be used for things that benefit all residents for a change, not just one special interest. If not, it may find itself sequestered.

MA Board Mtg.    2/25/2013

Golf had projected it would run about $125,000 for the coming budget. Newer figures indicate that it could run an additional $50,000 shortfall.  Total shortfall would be about $175,000.  They will review proposed expenses to see where they might save money over the coming four months. How about scaling back on the number of holes we are trying to complete this year or raising revenues from the people who actually use the course?

Golf lost only 28 members this winter. Golf Committee members were pleased that the number lost was fewer than last year.  There was no discussion of what percentage of membership this number represents, and no mention of what level of memberships were lost.

There was a vote to accept Gary Zahorodni as a new member of the Community Awareness Committee. Passed unanimously.

There was a vote on whether to renew the contract with FW’s current CPA.  The vote was 4 in favor and 4 against. President Sara Harrigan used her authority as President to break the tie, and the CPA’s contract will be renewed. It is nice to see the Board members expressing varying points of view. 

Report on Storm Nemo by Lou Parrott.   Difficulties in clearing snow were hampered by the extra hours spent responding to requests by individuals who said they were medical personnel or first responders and needed to be dug out right away.  It seems that some of these requests were coming from people making false claims.   FWMA will continue responding to emergency requests but will also ask all medical and emergency personnel, as well as people with special health needs to register with the MA so that we can plan for future storms.  There was mention of asking for proof of employment.  Does this mean we are going to ask doctors for a letter from another doctor? Are we going to require that people with special health needs get medical excuses?

Pool Committee is developing a process for residents to apply to hold pool parties. Want to charge $100 per party. Chair of the Pool Committee explained that they would want to have a lifeguard on duty. Estimated cost of lifeguard is $9 per hour and expected time of coverage is 6-7 hours (determined by having the lifeguard arrive an hour before party to help with set up and to get his/her equipment ready and then stay longer for lingering guests, plus for an hour of clean-up). The Pool Committee hopes to be able to put aside a little of the $100 fee to create an income for its purposes.  Here's an idea: maybe they can borrow a few bucks from the golf operation to spruce things up!

James Caldwell presented summary of safety issues associated with outdoor cooking.  How to handle the matter is difficult because Connecticut did not adopt the guidelines put forward by the National Fire Prevention Association, and even the Farmington and Avon Fire Marshals have different ideas.  Charcoal grills seem to present the biggest problem, and propane is less of a problem.  A number of years ago there was a fire on a balcony, but there has not been a problem in recent years.  The Board is sending the issue back to the Covenants Committee for more consideration.

Margaret Darby is working with the Board to help the members work together more efficiently.  The Board has established  4  committees to concentrate on different aspects of their concerns:

                        Requirements to become a Board member

                        Governance and Operations


                        Farmington Woods District Policies and Board reporting.

Hopefully the requirements to become a Board member will not be so limiting that only past experience as a Committee or Board member in Farmington Woods will allow a new volunteer to serve on the Board.  If that does become an absolute requirement, then it should not take effect for several years.  Otherwise it will take forever to get new thinking in the Board.

The Finance Committee is working to produce a budget proposal for the Board. When Finance originally reviewed the proposed expenses before it, the figures indicated that our MA and Tax District Fees would need to be increased between 7 and 11%.  The Finance Committee is working to reduce the budget and the size of the increases to residents ---- perhaps 4 -7 %.

Very brief budget discussion at the end of meeting.  Katherine Rogers proposes that the budget be developed on price-based costing. She explained this to mean that the budget would start at zero, with items being added to it according to the recognized needs rather than simply accepting something because it was in the budget last year. It would also include using competitive bidding whenever possible.

FW Tax District Board Meeting 2/25/2013

The Minutes of the November 4 meeting were approved.

The Net Capital Income of 2012-2013 year’s budget fell short by $40,000 due to unbudgeted golf expenses. Chairman of the Finance Committee, Brian Petrovits explained that the 2012-2013 Budget had been passed without the $40,000 included. Did the Board know the $40,000 would be coming when they passed the budget last year?

$33,000 which had been awarded in 2012 for a solar project, appears in the 2013-2014 as a line item. 

The Board discussed whether to approve a contract, which included a pay increase of about 3%, for Farmington Woods part-time CPA.  Board member Peter Janus questioned the proposed contract because of the fact that the CPA had given the Board a letter listing several aspects of work which she does not accept responsibility for, including inaccuracies and assessing management’s financial decisions/actions, and the fact that there was no attempt to go out for competitive bidding on this contracted position. Peter Janus asked if the Board should open the position to additional applicants who might be willing to undertake more responsibilities. Other Board members did not want to do so, saying the CPA’s charge for the part-time work was acceptable and her familiarity with Farmington Woods was valuable. The contract was approved, with Peter Janus as the one dissenting vote.

There was discussion of the “jobs” of each of our Farmington Woods Committees.  President Sara Harrigan said that the Charters for each committee describe the job of that committee.

Margaret Darby suggested that if the Board “raises the bar for qualification to be a Board member, it may get better qualified applicants.”  She will assist the group which is working on board member qualifications, with their work.  Margaret Darby is also interpreting the By-Laws.  She said she believes the Board can work with the By-Laws we have rather than go to the expense of filing new ones.

The Finance Committee will meet on Monday, March 4, 2013.  Brian Petrovits reports that the Tax District budget will be challenging.


No comments:

Post a Comment