RCSCW GM talks budget

Community forum provides deeper look

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Annual fees and operational expenses for the Recreation Centers of Sun City West are top of mind for community members.

Peeling back the layers of operational expenses and revenue, annual dues, capital funding expenditures and reserve funds gives insight to owner-members on how RCSCW officials operate. RCSCW General Manager Bill Schwind presented a community budget forum May 11, which can be viewed at suncitywest.com.

The RCSCSW governing board is set to vote on a final budget 9 a.m. Thursday, May 28 during the next board meeting, available to watch at suncitywest.com.

Operational expenses include an array of items, such as utilities, taxes, licensing, landscaping and other areas. Mr. Schwind said these areas were greatly impacted by the increase in minimum wage.

“In July, the state government issues a $12 per hour rate for part-time employees, which 52 percent of our workforce is made up of,” he explained. “It’s a fairly significant impact and a $1 raise yields close to a $500,000 impact on the budget. The other big item is some insurance rates that go up over the course of the year and various things happen and insurance companies alter rates and those are interlinked and two big expenses.”

Mr. Schwind said on the expense side 63 percent includes wages, salaries and benefits and the next biggest is utilities.

“Seventy-five percent goes to people and power and that’s how it breaks down,” he said. “The next biggest are repairs and maintenance and assures we are taking care of all amenities the best way we know how and you can see that money is very wisely spent.”

The above items are paid for by revenues generated from RCSCW. Mr. Schwind said in the 2020-21 fiscal year there is a 3.5 percent increase that generates $300,000. He added golf fees are the next largest thing.

“We haven’t raised golf fees for a three-year period, so we took a hard look at golf course rates and we are comparable,” Mr. Schwind explained.

There are several types of rates to play golf in Sun City West. RCSCW officials are trying to capture a little more money from outside players and non-residents. Additionally, there is a small increase in golf cart rentals.

“Golf rates not being increased over a three-year period and keeping up with the cost of maintaining golf courses and the generation of this money annually brings in close to $8 million to help offset the general operation of the golf courses,” Mr. Schwind said.

Golf fees for residents during the months of July through September will be increased by $1 for 18 holes, nine holes, twilight and super twilight. The Kachina plan will also increase by $1 for nine-hole, twilight and super twilight. Coyotes rates increase by $1 for 18 holes and super twilight. Family guest plans increase $1 for 18 holes. Guest and public play increased by $1 for 18 holes, nine holes, twilight and super twilight. Public frequent play increased $1 for 18 holes and super twilight.

Other incremental increases take place throughout the months of November through June 2021, varying from $1 to $8 increase with the highest rate increase on guest and public play for nine holes during the months November through April. All rate changes listed include regulation and executive courses. To view the list of all proposed increased, view the community budget forum video at suncitywest.com.

In the area of operational revenues, the biggest ticket items are annual membership dues and golf fees. The fees for RCSCW are $480 annually. Mr. Schwind said increasing that by 3.5 percent gets the total up to $497.

“When we look at comparable Sun City establishments (for one-person household), that is an extreme bargain looking around. We hope to keep fees as low as we possibly can with incremental increases along the way,” Mr. Schwind said.

A lot of questions have been brought to the attention of RCSCW officials asking why recreation fees have not been refunded or reduced due to the closure. Mr. Schwind explained these fees are not monthly dues, rather covers everything RCSCW maintains, including litigation, audit fees, insurance. He added those are very important and must be kept in good order.

The 3.5 percent increase comes out to five cents per day or $1.40 per month, according to Mr. Schwind. A graph was presented showing over a 20-year period in which the fee schedule spiked due to consecutive years of no increase.

“It is very difficult and somewhat tough on members, but if you can see your fees generating at a moderate pace at about a nickel per day, they are more tolerable then large spikes,” he said.

The same is true for the Sports Pavilion. The proposed fee increase included 15 cents for residents during open bowling, 50 cents for resident open bowling after 8 p.m., 15 cents for guests and non-residents during open bowling and 50 cents for guests and non-resident bowlers after 8 p.m. Additional increases include 30 cents for league play for three games, summer league play for three games and 25 cents for charter club specials with a minimum of 10 club members for three games, show rental for residents and non-residents.

One of the capital funding revenues includes the Asset Preservation Fee of $3,500, which will remain the same. Mr. Schwind said over the last five years there was a spike in figures with an increase of $500, which is just short of $4 million annually. This provides for capital improvements and it is a lucrative program, he said.

In the area of reserve fund and range of risk, RCSCW CFO Pete Finelli explained the reserve funds are determined against the reserve study and percentage of a fully funded percent on all repair and replacement, which are a certain dollar amount. He said this helps determine how many dollars are in the bank to cover future needs.

“As we prepare to exit out of June 30 this year, it is estimated at the 47 percent range,” Mr. Finelli said. “Last week the governing board in its workshop discussed plans to bring for approval our required percent no lower than 40 percent, which we don’t approach anywhere in our 10-year projections.”

Capital expenditures included golf courses, recreation centers and allowances. RCSCW Projects Manager Karl Wilhelm presented totals in all three areas of $5,991,271. Golf capital budget for repair, replacement and new projects is $2,010,547. Rec centers repair and replacements has a proposed budget of $2,716,524. Rec centers new projects includes a total of $829,200. The allowances total proposed is $435,000.

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