Paula Chin in Building Operations on June 21, 2016
We’ve already told you how the co-op board at Deepdale Gardens in Little Neck, Queens, has deftly juggled the demands of older and younger residents. It’s a large community – 1,396 apartments in 69 two-story buildings spread over 60 acres – but it has managed to accommodate a water park for kids alongside extensive health and wellness programs for older residents.
The thing that makes this successful juggling act possible is the co-op’s rock-solid financial condition. The co-op has been self-managed since the 1980s, when it also paid off its mortgage. But Deepdale never lowered its maintenance, allowing it to build up a fat reserve fund. And it has managed to do so despite soaring property taxes. The co-op now pays $4.3 million, a whopping $1.3 million increase from just three years ago.
“The tax rate hasn’t changed, but the city has been hitting Deepdale really hard with huge valuation increases in the last several years,” says Stanley Greenberg, CPA, who has worked with the co-op since 1972 and became its sole accountant in 2000.
Deepdale has kept pace with mounting costs by imposing regular but incremental maintenance increases of under 10 percent a year. Because it doesn’t have a flip tax, the co-op’s $14 million annual operating budget is funded entirely with maintenance revenue, along with ancillary charges for such amenities as air conditioners, washer-dryers, dishwashers, and garage parking.
“We always insist on a balanced budget that isn’t subsidized by our savings, which would be poor financial policy,” says board president Shaun Carr. Still, the co-op remains eminently affordable. The typical monthly maintenance for a three-room apartment is $627; for a five-and-a-half room unit – Deepdale’s largest – it’s $863.
Smart money management, in turn, means more capital improvements without imposing special assessments. Recent large-scale repairs include re-pointing the wall joints of the complex’s red-brick buildings, as well as replacing all of its aging roofs. Last year, the co-op started replacing its 25 boilers.
“We did just three of them, and plan to spread things out over the next six years,” says Carr. “We want to prevent emergencies by getting in front of the problem. But with all of our major repairs, we don’t want a huge outlay in one shot, which would be a burden on shareholders.” With a trifecta of no debt, no mortgage, and hefty reserves, “Deepdale probably has the healthiest finances of all of my condo and co-op clients,” Greenberg adds. “What else can you ask for?”
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