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Budgeting for Economic Stability & Posterity - AR Dec 29, 2008


I posted this below and decided to repost it under a seperate heading to generate more reading and hopefully assist more people...

Budgeting for Economic Stability

I have not been on in a while and it is good to see some old/familiar people…

In light of some post that I am reading and recent conditions, I decided to post the following to assist some Boards with creating (modifying) their 09 budget

It is important for management when creating the budget to consider the posterity of the building.
Budgeting as most US households today, and as our government does by pushing financial responsibility into the future is irresponsible. We do not and should not EVER borrow to pay bills in our personal or business lives. (I have 2 buildings going debt/mortgage free this year!)

When creating a budget, all anticipated annual expenses are taken into account, based on the current years spending, announced water/utility increases, Taxes (future taxes can be obtained from the DOF website), regular expenses, anticipated salaries, and other expected expenses.

Additionally, the condition of the building and anticipated physical maintenance costs are important to factor in; most people become modest here, but do not be. It is a good idea to obtain an engineer’s condition report and a five year capital plan from a good engineer to assist in pinpointing this number. Forget the fact that fuel dropped, leave the number alone!

Once you have a solid list and sum of anticipated expenses, then calculate what your required income (maintenance) should be per share and add 5-7%. This should be your new maintenance

Hope this helps someone...

~AR

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To be clear, increasing maintenance is not being lazy - Steve G Dec 29, 2008


There is a posting herein where the individual asserts raising maintenance is being “lazy”.

May I suggest that in a well run building, whether self managed or managed via a property management company, husbanding funds should be a way of life, de rigueur.

Thus, in a well run building, there are increases every year in maintenance fees (and perhaps assessments) to account for salary increases, utility increases, tax increases, insurance might be a bit variable and could even decrease if one is willing to front more of the deductible, preventative maintenance increases as the building ages.

To avoid increases is perhaps to invite insolvency.

To delay capital expenditures is perhaps flirting with disaster or at a minimum poor services to the residents, e.g.: lack of hot water, heat, leaky roof, etc.

To refinance is to condemn future owners to payments for improvements enjoyed by current residents. Not really fair when you look at it that way.

Remember, corporations borrow to create new or improved products and thus generate more revenue and produce more profits.

By borrowing, what new or improved products are generated that benefit the building / property? None!!

So why borrow? Why refinance?

Why pay interest expense that is of no value to the corporation (e.g.: building and owners)?

Think about it please.


> Join the conversation Comments (2)


You give a false dichotomy by saying that to be fiscally responsible, one must raise maintenance yearly. This is a clever debate tactic, but untrue.

One can be fiscally responsible without resorting to lazy (i.e. uncreative) maintenance increases / assessments.

A creative board will look at such revenue-raising options as selling unused common areas, creating basement storage, adding to existing rental parking spaces, signing up with film/TV location companies, leasing rooftop space to communications companies, etc.

(One can also cut expenses, though this is generally in such long-term ways as submetering, installing a condensing boiler -- see Habitat front pager today -- etc.)

Such inventive but labor-intensive thinking can mitigate or stave off an increase in a particular year. For these reasons, I agree with the previous board member that simply raising maintenance or issuing assessments is the lazy way out.

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This poster makes several good suggestions.
Looking at any given budget and property one can find from 5-50 ways to generate income or save on expenses.

there are energy consulting companies and the like that can assist you in finding and tapping these areas as well.


~AR

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Budgeting for Economic Stability

I have not been on in a while and it is good to see some old/familiar people…

In light of some post that I am reading and recent conditions, I decided to post the following to assist some Boards with creating (modifying) their 09 budget

It is important for management when creating the budget to consider the posterity of the building.
Budgeting as most US households today, and as our government does by pushing financial responsibility into the future is irresponsible. We do not and should not EVER borrow to pay bills in our personal or business lives. (I have 2 buildings going debt/mortgage free this year!)

When creating a budget, all anticipated annual expenses are taken into account, based on the current years spending, announced water/utility increases, Taxes (future taxes can be obtained from the DOF website), regular expenses, anticipated salaries, and other expected expenses.

Additionally, the condition of the building and anticipated physical maintenance costs are important to factor in; most people become modest here, but do not be. It is a good idea to obtain an engineer’s condition report and a five year capital plan from a good engineer to assist in pinpointing this number. Forget the fact that fuel dropped, leave the number alone!

Once you have a solid list and sum of anticipated expenses, then calculate what your required income (maintenance) should be per share and add 5-7%. This should be your new maintenance

Hope this helps someone...

~AR

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Need Roofing Contractor - david 600 Dec 28, 2008


Could anyone suggest a good roofing contractor for our Co-Op's brownstone roof?

Thanks,

David

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Wayne Bellet Construction

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Try L & Z Restoration Corp. 718-383-4131

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Bernini Construction did a cold-rolled roof for our building about 4 years ago. Nice job.

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We hired L&Z Restoration and they did a great job replacing our entire garage roof.

Pres :)

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I am a PM and I use OM Construction who is a very low cost, but excellent quality roofing company.. they have always stood behind their work and come back months later if they needed to address a complaint.

OH... you can call Dee - 917-306-8903

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Contact APA Restoration www.aparestoration.com (718) 545-7510

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Try McFar. Call Rich 516-873-9080. Many successful jobs with them

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There are tax insentives to help pay for it

http://www.greenerbuildings.com/news/2008/06/25/nyc-gets-a-green-roof-kickstart

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Underground tanks - AAA Dec 22, 2008


Has anyone replaced an underground tank recently? Did you obtain the services of an engineering company? What was your experience?

I will appreciate your comments and recommendations.

AAA

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I have not; however, I do know that EPA guidelines are very stringent and filing must be done for this. If there is any complications, and/or leakage during removal, it can cost you alot more than you bargained for. An engineer would therefore be compulsory to perform this project, especially since it is underground.

I can reccomend a few if you like.
Good Luck

~AR

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Welcome back, AR!

I will appreciate very much your recommendations.

AAA


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Christmas Tipping - Lucky Luciano Dec 21, 2008


I live in a nice new high rise in a 1 bedroom apt of 550-600 sq ft in midtown Manhattan. Rent is $3,300 which is killing me right now because bear markets suck with my income down significantly in the last two years (there are many morons I can thank for that). Perhaps I rented this apartment a little overconfidently based on a great first year of income in 2006 out of grad school. I am ashamed to admit the disgrace that I was laid off from my job with about 5 months of salary, but it is the case - and the rent is high. The building had a holiday note with the list of all the employees. Often the tipping that people do is based more on who has the power to be a pain in the ass than who has done the most labor.

There are roughly 250 apartments in the building.

Googling around, some other people gave a list of what they tipped for a similar building and it came out to roughly $600-$800!!!!!!!!!!

I was thinking $100 total until Google gave me a reality check...andI saw the list of 16 employees, most of whom I never met.

Our building's staff:

Resident Manager - Some person who I never met and never heard of. $20 (Google showed people give $200 quite often)

3 Handymen - One I never heard of ($10), One has been helpful on the three occassions we asked ($40)and one was helpful on the one time we requested help ($20). Googling showed that $40 was avg.

6 Concierges/DoorPeople - All friendly and very smily. I like them, but don't really know their names. All pleasant people though. They are not really doorpeople since they mostly sit behind the desk and do not actually open the doors and quite frankly, I can open the door myself - which have motion detectors to open the door. They get my larger pieces of mail and things that are signed for etc and are a first line of security. $20 each. Google had a $50 bare minimum for each.

6 Porters - Apparently a porter maintains a lot of the common space etc for the building. Don't know any of them. $10 each. Google said most people avg about $20 per porter.

So, the bill comes to $270...and it looks like, according to Google, that I am a super cheap son of a bitch that will get dirty scroogy looks for the rest of the year and shitty service for the year (though I demand almost no service).

So, am I cheap son of a bitch? Or are the people paying $600-$800 out of their minds? Or is it a bear market and I am not the only one who will seem like scrooge?

Confused

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You should be living in a walk up building with maybe one staff member. You should also know the names of some of the employees?

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So I am out of line...I rented the place because I made $360K in my first year of employment (2006), but used most of the bonus to pay for enormous debts amassed during my phd program, and I bought a nice SUV with cash and upgraded my apartment...then 2007 was worse and I only made $175K...and I got fired this year after making $175K...even though the losers on my desk that blew it up are still there (due to seniority I guess - though they are likely to get bageled in the bonus pool instead of getting a severance package)...So I should be in a walk up?

I think $270 is good enough. I ask for very little, but I am pretty sure based on googling around that I will be a hated tenant.

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Bonus - C.C Dec 20, 2008


Is it proper procedure give a property manager a bonus,out of the condo funds(condo itself--board approval)or the unit owner gives or none
at all. I know the super or,handyman etc. gets.

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... not in my building. Super only.

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you are kidding, right?

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All our staff (e.g.: building / property manager, superintendent and assistant superintendent, maintenance, porters, etc.) are employees with the exception of the security staff who are provided by an outside firm.

Yes the three key individuals receive a bonus.

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Yes = bonuses, a luxury self managed co-op with 490 units

Our property manager, superintendent and assistant superintendent are employees. As part of their employment package (contracts) they are eligible for a bonus based on their work performance.

Several board members (not all) meet near year end to review salary increases and to determine their bonus ($ thousands).

This is paid from the co-op’s ordinary operating funds.

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Credit Reports - BN Dec 20, 2008


Can a Board order a managing agent to run a credit check on a shareholder who is chronically in arrears? Someone told us we have to get permission from the shareholder first. We want to get a snapshot on his financial situation. He is a problematic shareholder in many regards so don't anticipate his cooperation.

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You cannot run a credit check on anyone without their consent, that is ilegal! You have to have an authorization from the person for that matter and if possible signed

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raising mntnce is the LAZY way out - st Dec 20, 2008


any cop can reduce it's budgetw ith concerted, effective effort. Ther e is no need to get into the bad habit of continually raise the maintenence. if you have a really GOOD Board, they will cut costs in leaking areas (yes, there are mainy) and balance the increases in areas such as taxes.

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A good Board cannot make revenue and operating costs appear and disappear as needed. Our small building operates on a very tight budget, we have no frills and no services beyond garbage handling and exterminator, and trust me, there is no where to get the extra 7% tax hike from. A good board must raise maintenance to cover monthly op costs, and we also charge a 13th month assessment each year to allow for contingencies. Where would you suggest we cut our expenses? I think you have to be realistic when you say a board has to find "leaks" in the budget and stop them.

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big buildings have lots and lots of leaks. insurance can be improved. always. water bills can be contested. etc. supplies. tax ceritoori. energy bulbs and better heating. overtime and better management of staff. there are leaks allover.

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Just as in any small business, the budget is very carefully looked over to maximize the "bang" of every buck. Sometimes you only find a drip... not a leak. Once you plug that......

I'm a firm believer in finding new sources of income. Storage, fitness room, tag sales, calendar sales.... whatever it takes.

But even after all that, when the utilities go up in double digits, when the tax rates increase, when the insurance is consolidated with hundreds of other buildings to gain maximum coverage for minimum expense, when you've metered and submetered and monitored supplies and you've wrapped pipes, upgraded systems, etc........

sometimes the only thing left is to increase maintenance. Doesn't mean the Board is lazy, stupid, inefficient or anything else that's bad. Just responsible, as it should be.

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In my view, broad generalities are not a suitable forum posting.

Our building (500 unit luxury building) has been practicing good management, fiscal responsibility and adhering to the tenets of fiduciary responsibilities for years.

So I will assert that in our building there are no more savings to be garnered from mundane day-to-day savings, e.g.; CFL bulbs, the newer LED bulbs, lowering building and lobby temperature (winter), raising hallway and lobby temperatures (summer), etc.

Deferring needed preventative maintenance or repairs is flirting with potential disasters and lack of services to residents.

Postponing capital improvements and the collection of capital reserves is not a viable option as one day the crescendo of required capital improvements will overwhelm our ability to pay.

So any well run co-op corporation has ready embarked on cost saving measures as a normal course of day-to-day business.

But, I will tell you that earlier this year we expended about $35,000 for an improved hot water monitoring and management system for our central site domestic and heating plant. In this case, the $35,000 is almost recouped in lesser natural gas costs and anything after this, is pure savings.

If we were to listen to others herein, we would not have had the funds to make the upgrade and to then recoup costs plus savings.

Our next venture, in the spring, is to install a new separate domestic hot water system that is about 95+% efficient. We will recoup costs by immediate savings and within three years we will have paid for the improvement and thereafter we will benefit with lesser natural gas cost usage which translates to more real dollar savings.

Without the funds today, e.g.: imbedded in our maintenance increases as well as our recurring yearly capital improvement assessment, we would be forced to delay the upgrade/replacement and thus forego savings.

Does anyone even think in this vein?

And, I must challenge other readers with this question? Have you ever designed a financial plan to pay off any underlying mortgage without ever refinancing the mortgage or taking out a larger sum? If yes, pat yourselves on the back. If no, then one must really do some serious introspection as to why you are squandering the shareholders monies to pay interest which is of no benefit to the shareholders and is only of benefit to the bank.

Yes, one may infer that we retired our twenty-five year old mortgage without ever succumbing to the easy way of refinancing and burdening future shareholders so current shareholders can obtain a free ride.

Our motto has been and always will be “pay as you go”.

And, to be clear, we compare our building with about six other nearby comparable properties and I will tell you, we with 500 units are the lowest cost (includes monthly maintenance, assessment and parking) building amongst six properties and 3,200 units. Our building’s shareholders have absolutely no mortgage looming over them while the average burden of the other six buildings and 3,200 units is $52,000 per unit in underling mortgage costs.

So tell me our plan has been wrong.

Oh, we have expended $16,000,000 in capital improvements since turning co-op twenty-seven years ago; all this while retiring the original debt of $8,000,000. And, as noted we are one of the lowest cost co-ops in the neighborhood.

Let me also mention that we raise maintenance every year. Our average increase maintenance and assessment)is 3.5% over all the years, and never have we had a double digit maintenance increase surprise or a mid-year adjustment or even hit folks with a mid-year bombshell assessment.

Yes, a subtle admonition to readers to think more wisely and more long term.

So who is lazy????

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Coop Property Taxes - Ryan Dec 19, 2008


I expect many coops will experience substantial increases in property taxes in the coming year.

How have your boards addressed this?

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please see this article. taxes back to 2007 level - so this is somewhere in yoru budget. meantime, get a very very good tax ceriototi lawyer:

Friday, December 19, 2008
$400 Property Tax Rebates Will be Sent by Dec. 31, 2008
The City is finally sending out the $400 property tax rebate checks which were meant to
be mailed in October 2008. You should have your check before December 31, 2008 (That
is the good news!)

The bad news is the City is raising property taxes 7% on January 1, 2009. (Oy gevalt!)

Technically, the City repealed a tax cut of 7% that had been set to expire in June 2009, so
your property taxes will go back to about what they had been in January 2007. (Confused
yet? Read the whole story below).

December 19, 2008 The New York Times
City Council Approves 7% Property Tax Increase
By DAVID W. CHEN
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's $1.2 billion property tax increase won approval from the
City Council on Thursday, raising homeowners' bills by 7 percent as the city grapples with
a worsening economy and disappearing revenue.

As a result of the 33-to-18 vote, annual tax bills will increase by hundreds or in some
cases thousands of dollars, effective Jan 1.

"Even though it won't be popular, New Yorkers will understand," Councilman Miguel
Martinez of Manhattan said in explaining his support for the tax hike. "Times are hard, and
we're asking everyone to pitch in."

Opponents warned that residents were already overtaxed. Since Mr. Bloomberg took
office, property taxes have increased by 18.5 percent.

"Today, the Council votes to take the bucket to the same old well and ask homeowners to
bear the brunt of a swelling budget among dwindling revenues," Councilman Simcha
Felder of Brooklyn said. He added, "I believe that is unacceptable and that will hurt all New
Yorkers in this difficult time."

The property tax increase comes as Gov. David A. Paterson is pushing more than 100 new
taxes and fees on items from downloaded music to nondiet sodas, and the Metropolitan
Transportation Authority is moving to impose fare and toll increases.

Manhattan homeowners who live in the most expensive co-ops will see their taxes go up
by anywhere from $854 to $1,307, according to the city's Independent Budget Office.
People who own single-family homes valued between $1 million and $1.5 million, outside
of Manhattan, can expect to pay an extra $464 per year. Taxes on more modest homes,
such as a condominium in Queens in the $300,000 to $400,000 range, would rise by
$111.

To help ease the pain, Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn announced that Mr. Bloomberg
had agreed to send homeowners the much-prized $400 rebate checks by the end of the
calendar year.

The mayor had tried to eliminate the checks this year, then delay their distribution, but
council members animatedly objected.

In addition, the Council approved an increase in the hotel tax from 5 percent to 5.875
percent per room, or about $3 a night. That change is expected to generate perhaps $80
million between March and the end of the next fiscal year, in June 2010.

Still, no one was under any illusions that the increased taxes would be the last financially
difficult decision in the foreseeable future.

Mr. Bloomberg, who in September ordered all city agencies to cut spending by 5 percent,
asked that they come up with an additional 7 percent in cuts by Dec. 22. And even with
those cuts, and the extra revenue from higher taxes, the city is still facing a budget deficit
of more than $1 billion in the next fiscal year.

The vote on Thursday — a close one by City Hall standards — was the latest political
victory for Mr. Bloomberg.

He had unveiled his budget proposals just two weeks after the most bruising political
battle in recent memory: the Council's approval of his bid to rewrite the city's term limits
law, allowing him to seek a third term.


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oil prices going down - how much - st Dec 18, 2008


this will soon save your coop money. but what is the %?

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