If your community’s fiscal year ends on December 31st, it should come as no surprise that soon your Community Manager and Board Trustees will begin planning for next year’s budget.
The preparation of an association’s budget is a detailed and lengthy process. They have a lot of work ahead of them. Over the next few months, managers will be tackling the process outlined below:
- Analyze each current expenditure line item to determine the correct level of funding. This process must consider fixed expenses such as multi year service contracts; variable expenses such as increased master insurance premiums, increases in utility costs, and so forth. This can be a time-consuming process which entails communicating with various municipalities, vendors, and contracts to determine if any cost increases are to be expected.
- Determine the appropriate Reserve Funding expense. A recent reserve study is an invaluable tool to help your community determine this expense and stay on track with the appropriate level of funding for future capital expense needs.
- Determine income level to fund expenses. Association fees, special assessments, late fee income, income from late fees, storage fees, parking fees, and laundry room income are all examples of income for communities. Your community may use any, some or all these methods to collect income, but which should be “budgeted”?
Association fees and assessments are legally protected and should be included as should any other fees provided for within the governing documents. Fees such as late fees, fines and laundry room income should not be included as income in a budget as funds generated from these fees may never be realized.
- Determine the difference between the budgeted income and budgeted expense. If the total expenses exceed anticipated income, adjustments will need to be made.
- Establish a balanced budget. This may be achieved by either raising the income level (this can be done through an increase in assessments, establishment of a special assessment to meet funding needs, or a combination of both to achieve the amount required) or re-assess expenditure line items to determine if some items may be reduced or eliminated from the budget.
As you can see, the process for creating a thorough and detailed budget can be complicated and should simply rely upon a percentage increase across the board. If your current Management Company is not providing this detail for you, perhaps it’s time for you to give us a call.