Bill Barnard, General Manager
This year, nothing has quite felt the same. Usually, at this time of the year, we are anticipating the return of winter visitors and are getting ready for the busy season to start. Right now, we are not sure how many of our winter people are actually coming back due to the complications and risks associated with COVID-19. We are also not sure what the busy season will look like, as it is hard to guess with so much uncertainty still in the air. As I write this, COVID-19 numbers are spiking across many parts of the country, which is an unsettling trend.
One thing that has not changed this year is the need for our HOA to have a well-planned operating budget. That is the main focus for me, and our team, every year during this time period. The budgeting process is a complex activity with many working parts and many staff members involved. It is also one of the most important aspects of our operation. The HOA operating budget is a projection of the money needed by the association to cover its operating expenses and provide adequate reserves for repair and replacement of the assets that the HOA owns and maintains.
Arizona law and our governing documents require that PebbleCreek HOA approve and adopt an operating budget every year. The importance of a budget cannot be overstated, and it is our yearly road map to operational success. It drives our maintenance plan, our social activities, capital improvements, hours of operation, pricing, and much more. All of these items affect the property values, sales potential, and lifestyles of the residents of PebbleCreek. Even though, at this point, we are uncertain about some things like group-based activities and events, we are certain of other things such as costs to maintain buildings, pools, roads, and landscaping.
The budget process starts for our team at the beginning of August, with the scheduling of operating hours for the upcoming year and labor planning. We then gather all the data and information that is necessary to form our expense budget. Finally, we look at projecting the repair and replacement of reserve-funded assets to update our Long Range Plan. The more knowledge and information we can gather prior to starting the budget process, the easier and more accurate the process will be. Each department director, along with their staff, puts together their portion of the budget. Luckily, we have a great staff of experienced managers and department directors that I work closely with to put together the comprehensive draft of the new budget. Once this draft is completed, we present that version to the board for their comments, concerns, or direction for the final draft.
When the final draft is complete, we will present this version to the homeowners for comment prior to presenting to the board for final approval, typically, during the November HOA monthly meeting. In the past, we have scheduled two budget information meetings in early November for homeowners to attend so that we can explain the next year’s budget. This year, however, due to COVID concerns, we are having to plan a little differently. We will put together a virtual presentation and put it out to homeowners for comment prior to the November monthly meeting. More information will come out via the website and PebbleNews.
On a final note, when we prepared the budget for 2020 over the summer of 2019, we could not have anticipated the sweeping impacts of COVID-19. I would like to share how proud I am of my team of directors, managers, and all of the staff in handling the situation we found ourselves in this year. Despite significant revenue reductions related to COVID in 2020, the overall financial condition of the HOA is still strong. Thanks to the hard work and proactive response of the directors, managers, and staff, we have been able to weather the storm. Although this year has been hard, and the assumptions for 2021 still confusing, this community and our staff have all come together to work and stay safe, healthy, and positive. As I celebrate my 20th anniversary of working at PebbleCreek this month, I am more grateful than ever to be a part of this community.