Back in the fall last year I joined the Budget and Finance Committee and spent four months moving through the process of reviewing the financial policies and adjusting them as needed.
As a retired banker I spent the last 15 years managing the operations of a department that worked directly with community management companies and their homeowner associations, investing their reserve funds and processing their payments. As I performed my duties on the committee, I began to ask questions of Bill Schwind, Recreation Centers of Sun City West general manager, and the board president concerning the costs that may come into play as the state of Arizona implements the fourth phase of their water plans.
I was told in no uncertain terms that this was not my concern and the board president sent me a long rambling email concerning my questioning the water plans and any large expenses that may be incurred reducing the size of some of the seven golf courses for which RCSCW currently is responsible. A subsequent virtual meeting that took place the following week after this discussion saw Mr. Schwind said that I was poking my nose where it didn’t belong then exhibited behavior that was certainly not something a “conflict resolution graduate” would have done.
Mr. Schwind, in my opinion, does not possess the emotional skills nor, based on the resume that his marketing person published in the Independent, have the experience managing a large-scale community such as ours. Our community has in excess of 225 full-time employees. Again, inquiries were dismissed, and I was told that the FTE was commensurate with communities of similar size and was also told that was not in my purview of the committee I served. I thought it was all our concern as a resident. It would be interesting to find out how many FTEs RCSCW currently employees.
I personally suggested a banking change that would have saved the community $5,000-$10,000 per month in bank fees, which was also ignored.
I am sure there are many cost savings items that could be addressed and suggest the board change the current accounting firm they have used for the past 15 years to provide a fresh pair of eyes on all accounting expenses as well as engaging the new firm or some other in the process of analyzing all the major cost expenditures and the use of all these hundreds of employees. There are many good and experienced employees who work for the association. However, in my experience employee creep takes place after decades of non-review as well as the cost savings that technology may make possible to reduce FTE or, at a minimum, enhance the experience for the resident members.
I believe the standard 3%-5% increase of our annual dues is on the way and the “reserves” will continue to grow and as of this date have never been used. So, you must ask yourself, why the increases each year? We currently have in excess of the prescribed reserve requirement percentage.
The tax assessment for the fire district continues to grow by 5% per year. That is a substantial amount and that, too, should be reviewed by an independent accounting company with some suggestions as to reduction in their expenses.
After the experience I had with the board president and Mr. Schwind, I decided to resign from the Budget and Finance Committee as it appears they have a hold on the processes, and with my family obligations I could no longer pursue those challenges.
Sun City West