This has been an unusual year, so I’m going to forego the standard September essay topic (What I did on my summer vacation) and, instead, focus on NTRA’s budget. In September, the New Town Residential Association (NTRA) will start to prepare its 2021 budget. This is important to each of us because the budget establishes the annual assessment (sometimes called HOA dues) that each owner will pay in 2021. The 2021 budget is especially significant because, as the first budget adopted by NTRA’s homeowner-elected Board, it will start to determine what kind of community we will become, as we move from being a new development to one that is aging.
To develop a budget, NTRA’s Finance Committee takes into account all financial aspects of the association, including both sides of the income/expense equation. On the expense side, the Finance Committee asks NTRA’s Committees to submit estimates of the funds needed to accomplish that Committee’s particular objectives in the following year. Working with Town Management, the Finance Committee considers these requests, along with the known and forecasted expenses that NTRA must incur to continue operations and maintain its assets in a manner that meets owners’ expectations for the development. In other words, the Finance Committee considers what it will cost to accomplish the things it must do plus the things it wants to do.
On the income side, by far the largest source of income is the annual assessment or HOA dues that each owner pays. The NTRA assesses a fee for each home based on the home type: detached homes, townhomes, and cottages. The other significant source of income is fees collected at closing on sales of both new homes and resales. As discussed at the November 2019 Budget Town Hall Meeting, the addition of new homes in NTRA will slow in the upcoming years as the development nears final build-out. This will result in a decline in income from closing fees and that income will have to be replaced with income from HOA dues.
If NTRA’s expenses (for both needs and wants) outweigh its income, the Finance Committee must re-evaluate and prioritize the association’s expenses and also consider what increase in the annual assessment is warranted to fund those expenditures required bring the development up to a level that the owners expect. In prior years this has resulted in an increase in HOA dues. In large part that increase was necessary just to pay for the needs of the association.
A new development’s assets require little maintenance at first, but more maintenance (and expense) is to be expected over time. Our pool is just one example: the NTRA pool was new in 2012 and required little maintenance. Now however, after a number of years of normal wear and tear, the NTRA must incur some expense to maintain that important asset to a standard consistent with the development.
The final steps in NTRA’s budget process are the Finance Committee’s submission of the proposed budget to the Board of Directors for review, presentation of the proposed budget to homeowners at the Annual Budget Meeting (usually in late November), and the Board’s adoption of the budget which includes the annual assessment for the upcoming year.
In my application for the Board election I stressed the importance of balancing current needs/expenses with expenses that are projected for the future. I believe that balance is essential to building a strong community and maintaining property values. Thank you for the opportunity to serve on your Board and to maintain NTRA’s secure financial position.
As the September weather cools, I hope we can all find time to enjoy a stroll in the beautiful neighborhood that we call home and to think about what it takes to preserve it. I hope to see you (socially-distanced, of course) outside this fall.