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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.

 

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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

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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

Budget Q & A

Jessica Besso is a Certified Public Accountant and Fraud Examiner who has worked with WRA's Budget and Finance Committee to create a new budget.

The new budget has been approved by the Board of Trustees and a Special Meeting of the Membership has been called on February 15, 2014 for the purpose of ratifying it.

The following PowerPoint slides are part of Jessica Besso's Budget Q & A session on Saturday, February 2nd, 2014.

See the WRA Calendar for a second, identical, Budget Q & A session is scheduled for February 11th, 2014 at 7:30 pm at the Chalet.


IMPORTANT NOTE:

Jessica's PowerPoint presentation contains a slide showing a Side-by-Side Analysis of Meter Reading and Billing Cost Savings.  This slide contains financial information that is available to WRA members only.

To access the slide, you must be a registered website user.  For details about how to register, please see How to Access Members-Only Posts


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Q:  What is the purpose of the budget?

A:  The annual budget is a tool for the members and volunteer Board to use as a guideline to direct the Association's income and expenses.   It is a way to communicate variances due to reality compared to expectations and hold the volunteer-run committees and membership accountable.  It helps everyone plan for the future and prioritize funds as a planning tool and roadmap.  The budget provides a control element in financial statements. The budget is used as a guide or “target” to help the homeowner association determine if it has under or over-estimated the amount of the expenditures. If significant deviations from the budget (the expectations of what the expenditures should be) occur, the Board of Trustees should try to determine the causes.


Q:  What is a budget not meant to be?

A:  A budget is NOT a mandate from the membership.  Budgets help minimize the unexpected, but they cannot predict the future.  No budget will perfectly align with actual activity, but the intent is to estimate as closely as possible.


Q:  Why does a budget have to be balanced?

A:  The money coming in and money going out must be equal.  The Association cannot plan to spend more money than comes in (a deficit) nor plan to receive more than it spends (a surplus).  As a not-for-profit corporation, the bottom line must equal zero.


Q:  What happens if the actual money coming in or going out does not match the budget?

A:  The Board should determine why there is a large variance and seek corrective measures if necessary.  Many factors can cause a budget line item to be greater than or less than the actual amount.  Again, a budget is just a working estimate or goal.


Q:  What happens to money that is not spent?

A:  The Board evaluates the financials on a quarterly basis and can allocate funds for reserves, capital improvements, repairs, or other future needs.

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Q:  Why did the WRA Board of Trustees call for a Special Meeting of the Membership to approve a new budget?  Doesn't WRA already have a member-approved budget?

A:  The members rejected the budget proposed at the July 2013 annual meeting.

RCW 64.38.025 requires that the corporation use the last budget approved which was the 2012-13 budget.  The membership should have clear communication from the Board on financial matters, and the only way to do that is through a special meeting.  Washington State law requires that any budget the Board adopts must be ratified by the membership.  The Board wants the membership to be aware of the financial commitments it is making.  The new budget reflects a better estimate of income and expenses and includes costs that have already been incurred that were not part of the budgets in prior years such as the reserve study and financial statement audit.



Q:  How does this budget resolve the issues that led the membership to reject the previously proposed budget?

A:  The budget is balanced, aligns more accurately with actual expenses, allocates funds to the reserve accounts from surcharge, and does not raise assessments.


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Q: Why is WRA performing the billing and meter reading instead of Sallal?  Was there something that happened with Sallal?

A: The renewal of our contract comes up every January.  In the process of preparing for that renewal, it was decided that preparing the billing and meter reading is more cost-effective for the membership when performed by our own staff.  Also the Board had been advised by the outside independent auditors and CPA who prepares the tax returns that the billing records should be in the control of WRA.  Other benefits of moving the work in house include adherence to the WRA Water Regulations, better service to the membership with integration of assessment and water billing, and cost savings of $10,000-$15,000/year.  Detailed analysis of the cost savings is available in the office or in the members-only area of the website.


Q: Are my water rates going to be impacted by this change with Sallal?  How will my water bill be affected by the new budget?

A: The intent is to keep costs reasonable and reduce where possible.  The water rate increase last fall is the basis of the revenue projections in the budget.  Actual water consumption will determine actual revenue and whether or not expenses are covered.  In dry years, more water is used and is a large variable affecting billing, and bottom line surplus or shortage.   We currently do not anticipate any rate changes for the remainder of this calendar year at this time.


Q: Is Sallal continuing to do maintenance on the water system?

A: Yes, we are renewing the contract with Sallal Water Association for the Water System Operator, Denny Scott, for 2014.


Q: Will the billing be accurate?  What about the meter readings?

A: The Association has employed an administrative assistant to handle all day-to-day office operations for some time, and now water billing will again be among the list of duties.  The training for billing is included in the software license fee for the software that we own and used in the past.  Meter reading is not a professional skill.  The Association has retained the services of a competent meter reader who is supported by our Water System Operator through our contract with Sallal Water Association.


Q: What if the meter reader is ill?  Is there a backup plan?

A: The readings do not have to be performed on particular days of the month.  The Water Committee and Board of Trustees fully support this effort that saves the membership over $5,000 and will ensure that the meters are read in a timely and appropriate manner.


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Q. What are the reserve funds?

A: The reserves were established decades ago for the purpose of repairing or making capital improvements to the water system or replacing it entirely in the event of a catastrophe.


Q. What are the reserve study requirements?

A: Per RCW 64.38.065, an association is encouraged to establish a reserve account with a financial institution to fund major maintenance, repair, and replacement of common elements. The Board of Trustees is responsible for administering the reserve account.  The Association is currently funding replacement reserve accounts for the future major repair and replacement of Association assets of the water system. Accumulated funds are held in separate accounts and are generally not available for operating purposes.  There is a reserve study being prepared by FCS Group using the calendar year 2013 water operations data.


Q: What happened to the reserves in prior years?

A: The 2012-2013 fiscal year budget approved by the membership does not include the allocation of the Water Surcharge income to the Water Reserve. Therefore, the membership approved the decision of the 2011-2012 Board of Trustees to opt out of the regulation and to use the funds for necessary operational costs.  Controls are being put in place to educate the Board and future volunteers on how the reserves need to be funded, currently per the Water Regulations via the surcharge.  This proposed budget meets this requirement.


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Budget Q&A Session

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Jessica Besso, CPA, CFE, and a Budget & Finance Committee member, is hosting a Budget Question and Answer Session at the Chalet on:

  • Saturday, February 8th at 11:00 am

and again on

  • Tuesday, February 11th at 7:30 pm

    Please note: if you cannot make it to either of these sessions, please email the Secretary@wildrim.org with your questions and they will be answered promptly.

Please come and learn about how the Board’s approved budget was created and get answers to all of your budget-related questions.  Topics can include the history of the WRA business, the purpose of budgets, reserves, current activity, and future plans.  The sessions will be recorded for future reference.  Bring your neighbors!

Special Meeting of the WRA Membership

Materials for this Special Meeting will be mailed to each member.  
Members who have created an account on the website can view .pdf versions of the materials here.

Questions and Answers (Budget Q&A Session Materials) here: https://wildernessrim.org/budget-q-a/

budget

Wilderness Rim Association’s Board of Trustees has adopted a new budget for the current year (2013-2014) to better serve the needs of the Association.  Washington State law requires the Board to present any budget it adopts to the membership for approval at a meeting called for that purpose.

This is a balanced budget proposal that recognizes WRA’s requirement to set aside the Water Surcharge (that is not spent for current Capital Improvements) into the Restricted Water Reserve. This new budget also reflects the Board’s recent decision to reduce costs by having our billing work done by our own staff.  An increase in office hours is budgeted to improve customer support for members at our own office.  Additional obligations for the financial audit and the Water Reserve and water rate studies approved by the Board for better management of our water system are also included.  The cost for these studies will be paid for by a $1.34 surcharge each billing, for the next twelve billings, to distribute the cost fairly among members:  $16.08 per member over two years.

 

The volunteers who are your Board of Trustees are working hard to make good decisions for our Association.  We ask your support and participation in the upcoming Membership Meeting and your vote of approval for this budget.

Thank you.

 

The following announcement will mailed to all WRA Members:

WILDERNESS RIM ASSOCIATION
SPECIAL MEETING OF THE MEMBERSHIP
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2014

Acknowledging the membership’s rejection of the budget presented at the Annual Meeting in July, 2013 the Board is announcing a new proposed budget for the period of July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014 for your consideration. Washington State law requires the Board to present any budget it adopts to the membership for approval at a meeting called for that purpose.

Please plan to attend this Special Membership Meeting at the Chalet in Cascade Park on Saturday, February 15, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. Registration will begin at 9:00 a.m. Come early to meet your neighbors and your WRA volunteers over coffee and refreshments. This is a private business meeting for WRA homeowners and lot owners only. Your children are welcome to attend with you. Please bring this sheet with your questions, comments and your ballot which is included in this mailing.

 You may vote by mail or by dropping off your ballot at the office any time before noon on the day of the meeting.
 Mailed ballots must be received by February 14, 2014 to ensure they are counted.
 We require 10% membership participation to reach a quorum. Please take the time to vote.

WRA Office Resumes Billing Duties

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Effective immediately, WRA is resuming administration of billing for water and assessments for WRA members.

  • We need each lot owner to update their records with the office.
    Please provide the information requested on the back of the tear-off remittance section of your water bill.  You may also email the office at office@wildrim.org.
  • All water and assessment related financial matters will be handled in the WRA office.
  • You may mail your payments to:
    Wilderness Rim Association
    Post Office Box 315
    North Bend, WA
    98045-0315
  • You may drop your payments off at the WRA office during office hours:
    10:00 am – 3:00 pm    Tuesday
    12:00 pm – 6:00 pm    Wednesday
    10:00 am – 3:00 pm    Thursday
  • You may drop your payment at any time in the drop box by the WRA office door.
  • Payment arrangements for accounts should be made with Suzanne in the WRA office.

Assessment Payment Arrangements

You may arrange assessment payments to spread out the obligation and avoid late fees.  To make payment arrangements, contact Suzanne in the WRA office.

Special note for owners who rent out their home(s) in Wilderness Rim

The WRA Rules and Regulations for the Water System do not provide for billing tenants.  Therefore, we may only bill owners of the lots in Wilderness Rim.  If we don’t have an address for the owner please provide this information to the WRA office as soon as possible and no later than January 30, 2014.  Your use of the form mentioned at the beginning of this article will be appreciated.

Five Ways You May Be Wasting Water Around The House

From:  http://wateruseitwisely.com/5-ways-you-may-be-wasting-water-around-the-house/

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It’s easy to be conservation conscious in theory, but in practice, it takes sacrifice and discipline. The Bureau of Reclamation found that the Colorado River’s worst drought in 100 years could affect agriculture and hydroelectric power production, AZcentral.com reports. If the drought continues, desert residents could see more direct consequences, including higher water costs and limits on the amount of water per household.

It doesn’t have to come to that. Small decisions throughout the day equate to gallons of wasted water. It’s easy to leave the water running while you do dishes or spend the extra 5 minutes in the shower, but those choices further escalate the problem. You don’t have to solve the water crisis on you own, but small measures can go a long way toward shrinking your water consumption.

LEAKY PIPES

leakOne the most common and least productive wastes of water is a leaky pipe. U.S. News reports that the average household can leak more than 10,000 gallons of water per year. The biggest culprit is the toilet, where leaks are more common because of frequent use. You’ll usually hear it if your toilet isn’t working properly. If it runs when it’s not in use, check the valves and inner parts. A plumber will be able to spot less obvious leaks. A worn-out pipe or broken o-ring could be adding gallons to your water bill. Have your pipes examined annually to prevent more serious problems.

SMALL LAUNDRY LOADS

That new shirt you love is dirty, but you’re dying to wear it out tonight. The simple answer is to throw it in the wash whether or not you can fill an entire load. Follow this pattern too many times, however, and you’ll see your water bill start to creep up. Not only will a little laundry self-control save you money, it will also save water. Stick to a laundry schedule, and wait until you have a full load to wash. If you just need that shirt, ask your relatives or roommates if they need anything washed.

WASTING FOOD

When we waste one thing, we don’t think of the possibility that we’re wasting another. Wasting food has a documented ripple effect, however, and it’s especially important for Arizona residents. NPR reports that the 1.3 billion tons of food wasted every year equates to 45 trillion gallons of water. That’s nearly a quarter of all water used for agriculture. If the world stopped wasting food, the water crisis would be over.

Do your part to make use of all resources at your disposal.

LONG SHOWERS

It’s a luxury that many around the world don’t have, but showers constantly contribute to our water crisis. The average 4-minute shower with an old head uses 20 gallons of water. Replace it with a low-flow shower head and you can cut that down to 10 gallons and by using a WaterSense showerhead, you could save even more. Everyone needs a long shower every now and then, but regular 20-minute sessions put an unnecessary strain on the environment.

OVERWATERING THE LAWN

In an effort to keep lawns green in the desert, some residents tend to overwater. Not only does it waste water, it can actually lessen healthy growth. If you have a stubborn brown patch, try reconfiguring your sprinkler layout rather than upping the water dosage.Learn more about how to check your irrigation system for efficiency and how to water just the right amount.

 

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Danger: Thin Ice

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Every few years, Brewster Lake freezes over.  It’s so beautiful and interesting that it is very tempting to try to walk across it.  Please don’t.

Consider the following headlines from the last few days:

Two young brothers die after falling through thin ice in rural Iowa

Three people die after separate drownings after falling through thin ice

 

Even if you don’t fall in, you may find yourself rescuing someone who has.  The following video will teach you what happens when you fall in, how to get out, and how to safely help someone else.