I have been serving on the board of the Dalton Farm Homeowner Association for almost a year. This past week we developed the budget for the next fiscal year. The bulk of the budget was already established by contractual arrangements with vendors, and the majority of the rest was approximated from sums expended during previous years. One thing we cannot predict now is the cost of fuel.
To fund its operations, a homeowner association taxes the members, but calls them dues, assessments, or fees, or some other synonym. They are taxes.
Unlike other elected officials, our primary goal is keeping taxes in check. We agree on this goal, which makes budgeting easier. If there is a projected revenue shortfall, the questions then center on what to cut. Do we need $45,000 for improvements to the grounds? Perhaps $25,000 would be sufficient. Should we expect to pay the lawyers $4,000 or $6,000 this year? Can we put off paving the roads until 2010 instead of completing them this year?
I suppose our budget is small, in comparison to other governments. It’s only a million dollars. But it’s more money than I have in the bank, and keeping the tax increase to $12 for the year was unexpected. (If I did the math right, that’s an increase of about 0.7%.) Now let’s see how much oil prices rise.