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FCS Group Water Rate and Reserve Study Presentation

At the Water/Budget & Finance Committee meeting on April 23, 2014, Chris Gonzalez from FCS Group presented his “Water Rate and Reserve Study” to members.  The study will be used by the WRA Board to evaluate decisions on future water rate increases, capital management, and reserve funding.  The presentation contains proprietary information owned by FCS Group and WRA.  This should not be publicly distributed and is for members only.  To access this post, you must be a registered website user.  For details about how to register, please see How to Access Members-Only Posts.

Some key points from the presentation:

– Reserves for operations and future shortfalls in revenue are strongly encouraged and the concepts were well-accepted by the members present.

– WRA is encouraged to maintain the current capital funding surcharge at $8 per billing cycle and to impose a 9% rate increase across all tiers at the beginning of the fiscal year.

– Chris noted that WRA’s base tier ($15/month) is one of the lowest that he has seen in the region.

– The study’s results generally endorsed WRA water operations policies and gave confidence that WRA is being managed appropriately.
To see the final version of the presentation, please follow this link:  Water Rate and Reserve Study 

If you have questions or comments, please contact office@wildrim.org.

Water Bills – Late Payment Process

In January 2014 members were informed on their WRA water bills that payments are to go to the WRA office or Post Office box. Sallal is no longer performing the billing or accepting payments.  This has also been posted on the WRA website, covered in the newsletter and discussed on the Wilderness Rim Facebook page.

The practice for sending shut-off notices for the last few years has been to allow members who reside in their WRA homes to receive a full six months of water service without payment before their accounts were provided with a shut-off notice.  Since the WRA office has recently resumed the billing duties for the WRA Water System, WRA followed this same process for the late notices provided to members in March (2014).

Notices posted in the fourth week of March were for accounts unpaid since the November 30, 2013 billing. The billing for January 31, 2014 had also not been paid on time, and late notices were sent out on March 16 with instructions to pay by March 25 to the WRA office to avoid service interruption. These accounts had not paid for four months of billed water service and we were just a week away from billing for an additional two months.  Members received water service for six months with no payments on the account.

It is the responsibility of each member to pay their water charges when due.  Any member who is in need of consideration for special circumstances in regard to their bill is regularly encouraged in newsletters and on the WRA website to contact the office to make arrangements to ensure that their service is uninterrupted.  When members do not respond to such notices and billings, WRA’s only option is to remind them that the water is not free and will be shut-off for non-payment.

A review of the WRA Rules and Regulations for the water operation clearly shows that accounts can be shut-off for non-payment after each billing cycle.  Effective with the bills due on April 30, 2014 the WRA will begin to apply the rules properly to all accounts.  Any account with past due charges (amounts dated prior to March 31) as of April 15, 2014 will receive a shut-off warning.  A few days later any account still unpaid will be provided with a last notice of WRA’s intent to shut-off the water for continued non-payment.

Accounts with charges from the March reading still unpaid by the middle of May will receive similar notices. As a general rule, accounts not paid with-in forty-five days will be subject to shut-off.

WRA exercises as much latitude and consideration as possible for members who make a reasonable effort to pay their bills.  Those who do not will have their water shut-off and the $100 fee to have the water turned on again will be assessed to their account.  To have the water turned on the account balance will need to be paid in full including late fees and the $100 fee.

Further, members who are delinquent in their water account may be required to provide a deposit to be held against future charges in addition to bringing the account current. The account will be required to be kept current for a reasonable period of time before the deposit can be refunded.

Please contact the office at any time that your water bill is going to be paid late.  WRA does not want to shut-off any member’s water.  Contact information for WRA is in every newsletter and billing that you receive.  The office phone (425-888-0087) and email (office@WildernessRim.org) are the best ways to contact WRA when the office is not staffed.

We own this business together, but the business can’t allow members to avoid responsibility for their water bills.

2014 Easter Egg Hunt and Peep Roast

Fire Pit Eggs

How many eggs did you spot in the park?  Over 60 kids and 40 adults came with their baskets and enjoyed hot cocoa and s’mores together.

Gathering

FirePeep JosiahBunny KidsPlayground McDonaldSisters

A HUGE THANK YOU to those who volunteered by stuffing eggs, making signs, inviting friends, stoking the fire, hiding the goodies, cleaning up, and doing so many other details to make this event happen!

Being in a neighborhood with such fun, caring people makes living here truly remarkable.

Want to be part of more events like this?  Email events@wildernessrim.org or office@wildernessrim.org with your ideas or skills that you would like to use to serve your community.

Almost time Tot start Tots Away they go On the hunt

Budget Detail Questions and Answers

Q:  What does the Annual Meeting budget line item include?

A:  The Annual meeting line item for the current budget includes all costs for the annual meeting, printing, mailing, food, sound system, ballots etc.  The only thing not included would be an allocation of Suzanne’s wages for the time she will spend on preparing for the meeting.

 

Q:  Why do we have Bank Charges Expense?

A:  The bank charges us every time someone bounces a check or for extra services.  We recover the cost of bounced fees by charging a typical NSF fee to members.

 

Q:  Depreciation Expense… what is this?

A:  Capital purchases (water system, equipment, buildings etc.) are generally listed as an asset on the Balance Sheet rather than expensed in full when purchased. Businesses use the concept of allocating that cost over the useful life of the asset as an expense—which is recorded as Depreciation. This useful life can be as short as three years and as long as forty years or more depending on the kind of asset. It is not a cash expense in the current year.

 

Q:  Legal Fees – Is this from changing the water billing contract?

A:  No, there has been no legal expense in regard to removing the water billing from the contract with Sallal. We have an attorney whose job is to help our volunteer Board be sure to make good contracts, guide us in business decisions and to review our Bylaw amendments each year among the other things attorneys do. We have been sued or have had to sue others over the years.  Last year we had a mostly new Board and we had a number of things come up. An example is that PSE registered the easement they have on our greenbelt (from 2010 I think) on a member’s lot instead of ours.  The attorney was involved in helping us determine how to address that.  We had a question about whether trustees can take a leave of absence.  So we budget for legal expenses and some years we don’t use it much and other years it is a bigger item.  It is a hard one to plan for but we do the best we can.

 

Q:  Communications/Newsletter- is this part of office supplies or is it  staff?

A:  We are required by the Bylaws to provide the membership with a printed newsletter six times a year.  This is the printing cost.  I hope we will be able to reduce that by getting a good laser printer in the office soon or going to an electronic newsletter.

 

Q:  Park Maintenance Services—what is this?

A:  Our contract for grounds maintenance was set at $1600 (plus $500 a month for extra services) a month in 2011 and 2012 until we changed to a different provider last winter.  That entity went out of business this past summer and since then and currently we are not in a contract for grounds maintenance.

 

Q:  As a suggestion, when the Chalet is used for non-board related meetings, why don’t you charge a rental fee that covers cost of cleaning, plus additional money that goes into a reserve to help pay for maintenance of the Chalet.

A:   We charge a nominal fee for reserving the chalet.  The members own the chalet.  The reservation fee covers the administrative costs.  We each pay assessment fees to cover the cost/maintenance of the assets.  Yes, the reservation fee could be higher and in fact the board did just raise it from $10 a day to $25. If you feel strongly it should be changed come to the park committee meeting and we will listen to what you think or send a member concern form.

 

Q:  Please send all future communications via email rather than USPS. I can see that a lot of money can be saved if everyone switches to this method. 

A:   You are correct, money can be saved, as well as time (which equates to money) and natural resources (trees, water etc.).  With the upgrades to the website we are aware there are many ways we can use it to save on the cost of all of our communications.  We need members to provide email addresses and be willing to agree to use electronic methods.  Last spring we included a flyer with the newsletter asking members how they wanted to receive information.  Over half of those who responded wanted paper.  Our members have to support this kind of change by participating.

 

Should you have other questions, please email treasurer@wildrim.org.

 

 

Special Meeting Results


Result

The budget is ratified.



Votes

Total number of members:

 

638

"No" votes required to reject the budget:
(See "Washington State Law", below.)

 

320

Total number of ballots received:

 

77

Number of votes in favor of ratification:

 

49

Number of votes against ratification:

 

27

Number of ballots without a "Yes" or "No" vote:

 

1

 

Washington State Law


From:  Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 64.38.025(3):

Within thirty days after adoption by the board of directors of any proposed regular or special budget of the association, the board shall set a date for a meeting of the owners to consider ratification of the budget not less than fourteen nor more than sixty days after mailing of the summary. Unless at that meeting the owners of a majority of the votes in the association are allocated or any larger percentage specified in the governing documents reject the budget, in person or by proxy, the budget is ratified, whether or not a quorum is present. In the event the proposed budget is rejected or the required notice is not given, the periodic budget last ratified by the owners shall be continued until such time as the owners ratify a subsequent budget proposed by the board of directors.

 

What the Law Means


From:  WA State Community Associations Institute (http://blog.wscai.org/2013/08/27/budget-ratification-best-practices/)

At the budget ratification meeting, unless the budget adopted by the board is rejected by a vote of a majority of the total voting power of the association (or any larger percentage specified in the governing documents), the budget “is ratified.” In other words, the owners do not approve the budget—the budget is automatically approved unless it is rejected by a majority of the total voting power. Thus, if less than a majority of the total voting power is present in person or by proxy at the budget ratification meeting, it is legally impossible for the budget to be rejected and ratification is automatic.

 

Ballot Counting Procedure


  1.  Ballots are received:
    1. By personally being deposited into the WRA Ballot Box,
    2. By USPS mail at the WRA PO Box 315, picked up by the Administrative Assistant and delivered to the WRA Office,
    3. By personal Drop Off into the WRA Office Mail Drop Box outside the Office door,
    4. All Ballots are deposited into the WRA Ballot Box prior to the close of voting at the Membership Meeting.
  2. The Ballot Box is kept in a secure location and the keys to the Ballot Box are entrusted to the secretary and/or locked in the Key Lock Box in the WRA Office.
  3. After the close of voting:
    1. All actions involving the Ballots will involve a minimum of two persons who have signed Confidentiality Forms,
    2. The Ballot Box is unlocked,
    3. The Ballots are removed from the Ballot Box,
    4. The Ballots are separated into two groups,
      1. Ballots with names, addresses, and/or lot numbers for identification, and
      2. Ballots without identification.
    5. The Ballots that can be identified are turned over to at least two persons who will verify the names on the outside of the Ballots with the Master Registration List.
      1. The WRA listing will be available by Lot Number / Account Number, and
      2. By Alpha listing – the alpha listing will serve as the master Registration List.
    6. Ballots that cannot be identified without opening will be turned over to at least two persons who will open each Ballot to determine what WRA member submitted the Ballot, if possible.
      1. These Ballot will be identified by member name and number, and
      2. Will be added to the Master Registration List.
    7. In the event that a clear and valid identification cannot be made the Ballot will be set aside as invalid.
  4. After all Ballots that are identified as valid Membership votes,
    1. The Ballots will be opened and the identification portion will be removed and saved separately.
    2. The Voting portion of the Ballot will be separated into groups of 10 or 20 depending on the number of Ballots received and the complexity of the voting involved on the Ballot.
  5. A separate sheet (page) will be available for each group of Ballots for tallying the votes.
      1. Three persons will count each group of Ballots by individual item on that Ballot.
        1. Either by one person reading the results and another noting the responses,
        2. Or by one person reading the results and two others noting the responses,
        3. The roles of the persons counting the Ballots will then reverse and the count will be done again,
        4. If the counts are not in agreement in any one group of Ballots, the count will be repeated until an agreement on the votes is achieved,
        5. When the counts are in agreement, the total of each item’s votes will be logged onto a Master Ballot Count Sheet.

      2. The Master Ballot Count Sheet will be verified by another group of counters.
  6. After verification that all ballots have been counted and the results posted to the Master Ballot Count Sheet, the results will be given to the president of the Board of Trustees for publication to the Membership.

Lost and Found


mitten

If you have lost an item in the park, it may have been turned in at the Chalet.

Office hours and contact information are in the website sidebar.

Water Quality Concerns Q&A

 

Wilderness Rim Association oversees the Wilderness Rim water system, Cascade Park, the greenbelt, and the office.  The volunteers who serve on your Board of Trustees give generously of their time, endeavoring to act in your best interests and to serve with honesty and integrity.

We would greatly appreciate your support.

 

water

 

 

Questions and answers regarding water concerns:

 

Was there something that happened with Sallal? Is it just to save money, and if so why are we doing this now and not waiting to do it at the regular meeting?

We are changing now (and not in July) because the contract with Sallal is renewed each January.
We are going back to handling our own billing to reduce costs, to have accurate accounting as requested by our CPA, and to provide office services here in the community.

 

How much money is being saved, and how?

We anticipate saving at least $10,000 per year by performing these tasks ourselves.
For example, our new budget for meter reading is less than $3,500 a year.  With Sallal it would cost $7800.

 

How will we be hiring the new employees to make this happen?

We have hired a very capable office person, Suzanne Glazier, to do the billing and to handle member concerns and payments.

 

And how/who will ensure that they are trained appropriately?

Denny Scott, our water system operator, has been working with Wil Chromey, our new meter reader.  The meters have already been read and the process went smoothly.  Our existing billing software license includes support for Suzanne.

 

Is Sallal continuing to do maintenance?

We are only resuming accounting-related functions.  Sallal will continue to be our water system operator.  They will continue to monitor water quality and to maintain the system.   Our water quality will not be affected.

 

Water Quality Concern

Water

A Response from the Department of Health

From: Ernie Henrie

Sent: Friday, February 7, 2014 2:32 PM
To: Wilderness Rim Association Office; trustees@wildrim.org
Subject: Re: Heads Up About Calls To WA Dept of Health

Hello Trustees,

I just spoke with Brian Boyce of the Department of Health (in Kent) in regards to the water complaint. He indicated that the call he received was from an unidentified person with concerns about our service contract with Sallal. This person indicated that the contract was “no good” because of changes made to it by the WRA Board of Trustees.  I advised Mr. Boyce that two changes were made to the contract, and the were as follows:

  • Do the billing in-house, as advised by our auditor.
  • Reading our own meters.

The remainder of the contract was left in tact, and that Sallal was still the Water System Operator and responsible for water quality.

Mr. Boyce indicated that WRA has done nothing wrong in making these changes and they would only get involved if water quality or system operations had problems. Mr. Boyce did speak highly of Sallal, and as far as they are concerned this matter is closed.

Ernie