TLA’s Second Budget Workshop Recap
Dianne Talcott, Director of Budget, Research & Analysis, gave a brief recap of the first Budget Workshop before launching into the changes to the Operating and Capital Reserves Budget since 2018. She explained that when the Assessment Vote failed in 2018, the Association was faced with budgeting with a flat Assessment.
“When the Assessment failed, we set the goal of maintaining basic services and ensuring the integrity of the Capital Reserves Fund,” she said. “Accomplishing this goal required us to evaluate what services could be reduced or eliminated, finding creative ways to cut costs, asking ourselves if we have enough money in the Capital Reserves Fund, and figuring out how we can make sure infrastructure needs are addressed given the age of our almost 50-year-old community.”
With these questions in mind, the Association looked at the Operating Fund) (day-to-day services) and the Capital Reserves Fund (restricted fund for repair and replacement of assets) to see where changes could be made that would be least impactful to residents while still cutting costs and maintaining basic/core service levels.
Following are some high-level examples of changes by category that were made to the Operating Fund.
- Center Island Refurbishment Program reduced from $150,000 to $100,000
- This eliminated some plantings, prunings, and seed of turf, and uses slash pine straw rather than longleaf.
- Frequency of mailbox/sign paintings was reduced to $15,000 (2020) from $28,719 (2018)
- This means 1/6 of community per year would be addressed vs. 1/3
- Training and Memberships for Staff decreased from $75,000 to $41,00
- Employee Wellness Program eliminated in 2020 – Saving $7,000
- Budgeted Security at 90% staffing levels and the Marinas at 80%, due to historical turnover rates.
- Addition of three new positions: assisting residents in Public Works, assistant mechanic, expanded Marinas hours
- Reduced and then eliminated Strategic Plan spending - $95,000 (2018), $30,000 (2019), $0 (2020)
- Reduced Development/Renovation Budget - $50,000 (2018), $30,000 (2019), $10,000 (2020)
- Closed Recycling Center end of 2019 – savings of at least $12,000/year
- Eliminated Seasonal Cookouts in 2019
- Reduced and then eliminated off-duty police expense - $60,000 (2018), $48,000 (2019), $0 (2020)
- Reduced and then eliminated the Marinas Marketing $19,695 (2018), $9,646 (2019), $0 (2020)
Talcott then switched gears to changes to the Capital Reserves Fund. She explained to the group that the Capital Reserves budget changes have been incorporated into the Proposed 2020 Budget.
“The changes that have been made allow more funds to be allocated to infrastructure needs while still considering the increasing costs of heavy equipment,” Talcott said.
Talcott shared pictures with the group that clearly outlined examples of The Landings’ aging infrastructure. Photos included root intrusions that had damaged roads and cracking seams on roadways. She emphasized the importance of having enough funds in Capital Reserves to address these issues that will continue to arise due to the age of the community.
Talcott then shared the graph below that outlines changes to the Capital Reserves Fund since 2018.
“This chart shows the roads, paths, and storm drains, which are the infrastructure part of the Capital Reserves Budget,” she said. “One thing to point out for this chart is that you will see the 2019 Budget and the 2019 Yearend. You’ll see the roads were budgeted at $755,000, but we are actually coming in at more than $1M, and you can see that is because of those unplanned road expenditures that we are currently experiencing due to prematurely failing roads. You’ll see in the 2020 budget the roads are planned accordingly for the $1.1M of expenditures. You will see the same thing for storm drains."
Talcott then shared changes to the Capital Reserves Budget in the area of equipment and bridges. She explained how, in many cases, such as with the redecking of the McWhorter bridge, the Association can do repairs rather than full replacements to save money and extend the useful life of some assets. For example, redecking the McWhorter Bridge comes at a cost of $100,000, whereas a full replacement would cost more than $800,000. She also shared pictures of some of the heavy equipment, such as the Street Sweepers.
The Ravo i501 Series Sweeper that was purchased in 2018 cost $240,000. The Ravo unit is smaller and more compact, which allows greater maneuverability around center islands and the hammer-head streets. The most notable difference between the Ravo and the previous TYMCO Sweeper is the amount of material the machine holds. The Ravo unit requires only one-to-two disposals of collected material as opposed to the TYMCO’s six-to-seven. Decreasing the number of required transfers has drastically increased the efficiency of the sweeping cycles by saving approximately two hours of employee time otherwise lost using the TYMCO machine. The TYMCO Sweeper will be replaced in 2020.
Talcott wrapped up the meeting by sharing the following key takeaways:
- Expenses for the 2020 proposed operating budget are 4% lower than the 2018 operating budget.
- Non-Assessment revenue for the 2020 proposed operating budget is 10% higher than the 2018 operating budget.
- The Operating budget has continued to decrease since 2018 by finding ways to reduce costs while maintain core services.
- No new or additional services are reflected in the 2020 operating budget.
- Aging infrastructure means that the Capital Reserves Budget needs additional funds to sustain and maintain.
- An Assessment vote is planned for spring 2020. At this time, no dollar amounts are known. However, once the results of the Reserve Study are completed in December, more information will be known.
One question that could not be fully addressed regarded a study by the Urban Land Institute in 2015 for The Landings Association about potential future land use planning, including what the study cost, what money has been spent since then, and what projects have been completed.
Much of that work has been completed since 2015, as noted in the Association’s Strategic Plan, which you can view here. Those expenditures have come from the Strategic Plan line item noted in the Association’s budgets.
The Association’s final Budget Workshop for 2019 will be at 6 p.m. on December 16 at Delegal Creek Marina’s Sunset Pavilion and will cover The Reserve Study results.