In case you were unable, or chose not to attend the NTRA Budget Presentations held on two consecutive evenings via ZOOM, the take-away was this: NTRA financial matters are in good hands.
The purpose of the two ZOOM meetings was to inform NTRA members about the challenges, deliberations and decisions that were involved as the Finance Committee (FC) drafted the Proposed NTRA 2021 Budget. The Board of Directors (BOD) weighed in, made suggestions and ultimately agreed to present the Proposed 2021 Budgets that were the subjects of these meetings. One very important reason to pay attention -- the final 2021 NTRA Budget becomes the basis for 2021 homeowner assessments.
Session I, convened on November 18 at 6:00 PM focused on Village Walk (VW), with 14 residents and 8 panelists from the Finance Committee (FC), Board of Directors (BOD) and Town Management in attendance. Session II opened at 6:05 PM on November 19, with 21 NTRA members and 10 panelists from the above groups present. This meeting dealt with the overall NTRA 2021 Budget.
Information presented at both sessions was detailed, clearly laid out and delivered in a logical sequence that drew those attending into the budgeting process. The FC posted the proposed budget for each session, with commentary, in advance on the NTRA website. This seemed to boost member interest in and understanding of issues. Both sessions allowed ample time for questions.
The two meetings followed the same format. First, Jim Carey, FC Secretary, reviewed how Zoom tools could be utilized during the meeting and laid out the overall timetable for budget review. Then Everett Lunsford, FC Chair, walked attendees through the proposed budget, page by page, adding further detail as needed. Questions were held until he finished.
Exterior Maintenance issues at VW have significantly impacted expenses. During Session I, there was clarification that VW homeowners receive additional services that are not part of the standard NTRA home maintenance plan, including for example, exterior painting, irrigation, maintenance, repair and replacement of roofing and more. These additional costs are reflected in the assessments of VW homeowners.
One of the challenges in 2020 was the discovery that amounts budgeted for VW maintenance were in some cases, inadequate. In some instances, needs were overlooked; in others, costs were underestimated.
Lunsford noted that $1.5K was budgeted for 2020 irrigation system repairs. Actual costs, however, are now approaching $12K. Lack of mapping of the 130-zone irrigation system has made it extremely difficult to obtain accurate estimates for repairs and maintenance. An outside contractor will begin mapping the system in 2021.
Exterior painting of VW homes is a Replacement Reserve expense, but painting was not included in the 2019 Replacement Reserve Study. A quote has been received for roughly $240K to repaint the exteriors of all VW residences over a five (5) year period beginning in 2023.
At times, while reviewing the proposed budget, Lunsford stated that the FC had changed spending projections or altered long-range budget recommendations. He would then continue with a description of the rationale that led the FC to reach those decisions. This likely reduced the number of questions raised during the Q & A, all of which were answered thoroughly.
Session II reviewed the overall budget for the whole of NTRA, presented in a 30-page report. The FC and BOD have been immersed in budget issues and decisions since early October. The 2021 Proposed NTRA Budget was presented with year-to-year comparative figures clearly indicating shifts in spending.
The FC has identified several areas that need to be carefully managed to ensure smooth sailing in the years ahead. Some that were mentioned include: funding the maintenance requirements of VW homes; monitoring Capital Contribution and Administrative Fees generated from home sales; managing the Replacement Reserve of VW and NTRA; and increased awareness of long-term maintenance and community needs.
Everett Lunsford noted that the budget includes a financial audit of the managing agent, Town Management, which is industry practice when an HOA is turned over to owners. This will be a one-time expense of $7 – 9K.
With limited sources of funding, unexpected expenditures are difficult to handle. In 2020, Covid-19 necessitated approximately $10K in expenditures for extra pool personnel, new signage, additional cleaning supplies and services. This expense is likely to continue in the coming year. Money previously earmarked for major landscape projects and 2020 seasonal Activities were redirected to cover these costs and safe, socially distanced activities, Zoom account, etc.
In addition to considering the maintenance timetables recommended for HOA communities, the FC is keeping an eye on actual New Town maintenance requirements. Lunsford again used the VW situation as an example. The NTRA is required to repaint VW exteriors on a periodic basis as part of their exterior maintenance fee. Based on contractor estimates and recommendations, the NTRA expects to begin a five-year repainting program in 2023. Since these homes are mostly clad with factory-painted cement board siding, the recommendation is to repaint every 7 years. However, some homeowners are reporting issues, such as exterior mold problems, that might alter maintenance or repainting schedules.
The Landscape Advisory Committee (LAC) researched and planned projects to replace dead trees and upgrade the appearance of New Town’s common areas. Funding for these Special Projects was originally approved for 2020 but the money was diverted to cover unexpected expenses. NTRA members that have been asking about the status of those projects were pleased to hear Lunsford say that the LAC plans have been prioritized and are detailed in the 2021 PROPOSED NTRA BUDGET REPORT
The two meetings were an opportunity for NTRA members to dig into the details of NTRA 2020 spending, and ask questions about the details of the 2021 budget on which 2021 homeowner assessments are based.
At the close of the meeting several people recognized the enormous amount of time these committee members have spent on this task and praised the excellent result of their efforts. Comments are welcome through December 3rd. The final BOD-approved budget will be presented at the Annual Members Meeting December 10 on Zoom.