We, the members of The Board of Directors of HFCA, recognize the legitimate concerns many of our members may have regarding the 2023 dues increase. The dues are being increased by $202 for improved lots, $119 for unimproved lots, and $79 for adjacent lots. We recognize that given the current economy, this increase can create a financial hardship and we are as disappointed as you are that it was necessary.
This year the rise in costs of many basic necessities isn’t unique to Hemlock Farms. According to national community association data, most HOA’s and condos are experiencing 2023 increases ranging from 10-15%. While ours is undoubtedly a considerable increase, our improved lot dues increased 8.12%, unimproved lots by 7.11%, and adjacent lots by 7.14%. There are no changes to the 2023 water rates and fees over the prior year.
Many factors contributed to this year’s need to increase dues. Below is a listing of some of the budget items which contributed to the dues increases:
· Insurance Costs Have increased - Risk management budget lines increased by approximately $38,400.
· A significant increase in wages for the HFCA staff - The payroll budget line increased by $464,947 (or 9.71%) over the prior year, including a new full-time Assistant Comptroller, and increased payrates to ensure adequate staffing to keep facilities running, take care of our amenities, provide member services, and improve staff retention.
· Ensuring long term fiscal security of Hemlock Farms - The 2023 contribution to Replacement Reserve is being funded in the amount of $1,575,000 to keep our infrastructure maintained without assessments, accounting for $452 of the total dues, including road and parking lot paving, equipment, structural, and septic replacements at numerous HFCA facilities, improvements and maintenance to the Fawn Hill Pool, Park, and Clubhouse facilities.
· Increased fuel and utilities costs - The cost of utilities and fuel has increased, such that an additional $35,000 was budgeted in those lines across the Association budget.
· Continuation of Advanced Life Support Services for Hemlock Farms residents - Advanced Life Support services will cost $431,405 in 2023, a valued life-saving service for members, which accounts for about $120 of our annual dues.
Every department and committee was asked to contribute to containing the rise in dues. Recreation did not get spin bikes, Cultural Arts did not get a new lighting system at the Clubhouse, Public Works did not get a wheel alignment system, Public Safety deferred paving their parking lot, the Pickleball Club did not get outdoor lighting, and the Hemlock News was capped at 56 pages.
The HFCA budget process is extremely rigorous. Here is what the timeline and the process look like:
1. Before September 15th - Management and staff begin budget review in May, preparing and presenting a proposed budget to the Board by September 15th.
2. The Finance Committee meets every Saturday after September 15 to review each section of the budget, line by line, seeking items that can be reduced or eliminated without reducing services.
3. During the process of budget review by the Finance Committee, members are welcome at each meeting to provide their personal input into the Budget Review process.
4. The Finance Committee presents its recommendations to the Board for consideration at three separate budget hearings during which Hemlock Farms members are invited to participate and comment, culminating in the 2023 budget adoption on December 10th.
We welcome every one of you to review the budget for yourselves, ask questions during Board meetings, Town Hall meetings, Member Forums, as well as committee meetings that pertain to your areas of interest or concerns or email us at email@example.com.
Looking ahead to 2024, we sincerely hope to see the economy stabilize and the negative impacts created by the state of current world affairs abated. We will continue to work with management to identify possible savings across all departments without sacrificing the quality of our amenities and facilities. No one wants to see the dues raised. As fellow members and community residents, we share that burden with you and we take our responsibility to judiciously manage the finances very seriously, both in the short and long term.
We wish everyone a pleasant and peaceful holiday season and a Happy New Year!
With warmest regards,
HFCA Board of Directors