ost of us think of the seasons in Sun City West as monsoon, allergy and citrus-picking. But we’re currently in the throes of another important season — it’s budget season for Recreation Centers of Sun City West.
Before Thanksgiving turkeys are being purchased, the RCSCW staff is busy reviewing the budget timeline and the capital items from both the reserve study and the new capital items presented by the managers. Capital requests come from the Charter Clubs, Golf and Properties committees, and are listed as those items over $50,000 and items under $50,000.
Once the new calendar year begins, the process for the fiscal year budget, which runs from July 1 to June 30, escalates according to the budget timeline that is developed by the staff and approved by the Budget and Finance Committee. The budget is proposed to the board by the general manager, who guides the process and lays out the guidelines for each budget.
Members are invited to partake in this process by attending the various committee and board meetings, as well as the budget forums, to provide input. Meeting agendas are available at gb.suncitywest.com. This year’s budget forums are 9 a.m. Wednesday, April 14 and 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 15 in the social hall. The community is invited to attend in person, but the meetings also will be live streamed, recorded and available at youtube.com/suncitywestaz.
The primary goal of the annual budgeting process is to support the key objectives of the Governing Board — to preserve, protect, maintain and enhance the assets of the association. In support of that objective, the budget process addresses the balance of current operational and long-term asset replacement needs.
The budget needs to meet and/or exceed the reserve funding requirements established by the Governing Board, invest in new capital projects and maintain Del Webb retirement community standards with current programs, activities, repairs and maintenance.
Over the next few weeks, I hope to de-mystify this process and share the nuts and bolts and reasoning behind the budget for RCSCW. The three main areas of our budget are revenue, expenses and capital items, each of which will be explained in more detail starting with our revenue.
The largest segment of revenue is membership dues. Many members call these “rec center dues,” but that is a misnomer — they are owner/member dues. While our annual dues do support our four beautiful rec centers, they also help keep our facilities staffed and support more than 100 chartered clubs, seven golf courses, the R.H. Johnson Library, Village Store, Stardust Theatre and the bowling center — not to mention the softball field, pickleball and tennis courts, dog parks and all our outdoor recreation areas. This includes insurance, wages, utilities, maintenance costs and much more.
Trying to compare RCSCW with the Recreation Centers of Sun City is like trying to compare oranges to avocados — any comparisons are a true stretch! Sun City has more than 5,500 more rooftops than we do to offset the shared costs of maintaining their rec centers, golf courses and administration.
When Del Webb built Sun City West, he recognized a smaller population base here was going to be supporting almost the same number of amenities in Sun City. We have almost the same square footage in the rec centers and only nine fewer holes of golf than Sun City has. Del Webb therefore chose to impose the owner/member dues on individuals in Sun City West rather than on rooftops to make up the necessary funds for maintenance.
We have operational costs that RCSC doesn’t have, including the Village Store, a private library, a CC&R administration division along with the largest recreation center in the state of Arizona. We have about 5,500 fewer homes and 11,000 fewer residents than Sun City — and a single resident of Sun City West pays only $1 more in annual dues than that same person in Sun City.
The proposed budget for fiscal year 2021-22 includes no increase in owner/member dues because our staff was able to cut expenses elsewhere in the budget, plus minimum wage increases, mandated by state law, were minimal. In addition, there will be no increase in fees for golf, bowling or facilities rental. Guest fees remain at $3.50 for guests younger than 18 but will be $5 per day for those 18 and older. In addition, there will be a small increase in golf cart rental fees and the Asset Preservation Fee will rise by $200 to $3,700.
fiscal year 2020-21 was difficult revenue-wise as our special events, merchandise sales and food and beverage sales were impacted by the pandemic. However, our staff worked hard to contain expenses while keeping our facilities clean and ready to open when the pandemic numbers allowed.
Next I’ll address the expenses of our association, but in the meantime, please feel free to listen to discussions about the budget by attending a meeting of the Budget and Finance Committee or the Governing Board. All of our meetings are open and transparent and follow the Arizona Open Meetings Law.
We live in a beautiful, active, vibrant community and all residents can help maintain our community by being involved, seeking answers and being good citizens.
Editor’s Note: Ms. Brown is Recreation Centers of Sun City West board treasurer.