We have managed to remain solvent and maintain a healthy reserve without any major maintenance increases or assessments for several years now — a big achievement, especially since the majority of our apartments are rent-controlled. We’ve done that by being judicious about our expenses and closely monitoring our income. We also make smart investments like purchasing apartments that come up for sale — the co-op now owns about six of them — so we’re receiving rental income while watching the value of those units grow.
And we’re proactive rather than reactive when it comes to investing in capital improvements. In 2015 we did a facade restoration that ended up going nearly 50% over budget, from $400,000 to $700,000. We refinanced our mortgage to cover the cost, but at the same time we decided to go big and address other issues that weren’t critical at that point but needed attention. That included replacing our two elevators and the boiler, renovating the lobby, and doing waterproofing and pointing.
We’re always thinking ahead rather than waiting for things to break down. For example, if a shareholder renovates an apartment and does plumbing work at the same time, we explore the plumbing behind the walls. If anything needs replacing or repairing, we address it then, not in response to some major event.
The other thing we’re always looking for is the right professionals to partner with. One of our dream projects is putting up a green roof, but the process of finding the right contractor and the right system for our building isn’t easy to navigate. We’re now part of a group of co-ops in Jackson Heights that are sharing resources and communicating with each other about contractors and vendors. Banding together is one solution to finding professionals who are a better fit than the ones we’ve worked with so far. We’re trying to be creative about how to get things done rather than sticking with the status quo.
Actually, the most gratifying thing for me as a board member isn’t so much the financial projects, but working with a group of phenomenal people who have informed and thoughtful discussions about issues that affect not just our building but the community. One example of this is that we now require our management company to request and ensure that bids are submitted by minority- and women-owned businesses. In a diverse neighborhood like Jackson Heights, that’s an important focus for us.
Board president (6 years)
82-06 and 82-16 34th Ave., Jackson Heights, Queens
Years of board service: 7
Year Built: 1927
Operating budget: $900,000
Ongoing assessment: No
Maintenance increase: 2% in 2017
Property management: Kaled Management
Accountant: Czarnowski & Beer
Attorney: Offit Kurman and Troia & Associates