Re: a question about funding capital projects
From: David L. Mandel (
Date: Tue, 25 May 2010 23:59:36 -0700 (PDT)
Each household pays into a capital fund along with its monthly fee for the 
usual stuff. The amount is highly skewed by ability to pay, set after we moved 
in to make up for the lack of such considerations in our HOA fees. The monthly 
amount ranges from $2 for low income/one bedroom to $20 for (relatively) high 
income/four bedroom. Another initial reason for the fund's creation was that we 
didn't end up with the expected (ha!) surplus from our construction budget that 
we had planned to use for a number of post-move in capital purchases. The fund 
accumulates in a special account, and we occasionally get updates on how much 
there is. Sometimes quite a bit accumulates.
That's collection. Here's how it's spent:
1. Every once in a while we conduct a relaxed brainstorm of ideas for things 
that would cost money but would improve our lives. Small, big, boring, pure fun 
-- doesn't matter. The ideas are tossed out, discussed/explained a bit, then 
written on a list. Every resident then gets a set number of "votes" to be given 
to favorite projects. One can put all votes on one item or spread them around 
as much as desired. 
2. This provides us with a sense of the group's wishes, but it doesn't decide 
anything. To actually spend funds on something from the list, an individual, or 
more typically a committee or an ad hoc group, formulates a proposal, conducts 
the necessary research, develops a plan for implementation, a budget and a work 
plan as appropriate, solicits comments, lobbies, then eventually brings it to 
the general meeting for consensus approval. To succeed, the idea need not have 
been at or even near the top of the list of previously discussed items. It need 
not have even been on the list. But the list provides a background in which an 
item that was very popular when first suggested is more likely to win 
consensus. Even if I think it's not such a great idea, I would tend to respect 
the fact that many others did. But it's never a slam dunk.

David Mandel
Southside Park Coho, Sacramento

--- On Fri, 5/21/10, S. Kashdan <skashdan [at]> wrote:

From: S. Kashdan <skashdan [at]>
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ a question about funding capital projects
To: "Cohousing list Cohousing-L" <cohousing-l [at]>
Date: Friday, May 21, 2010, 6:57 PM

Greetings all,

I am posting this request again because I didn't receive much of a response
the first time. I will give a little more information, and hope that more of
you can respond.

Here at Jackson Place Cohousing, we are trying to figure out a less
cumbersome way of deciding on how to fund capital projects than the one we
have used for the last eight and a half years.

Currently, we consider funding capital projects on an annual basis.

In a series of meetings, projects are presented by interested members, and
we discuss and either come to consensus on having a project done or are
unable to come to consensus on it.

Once we have come to consensus on the projects we think worthy of being done
during the coming year, we then begin a process of deciding on how they will
be funded:

1.  First we ask whether each project can be funded with our regular formula
for deciding on association assessments:  a 65/35 formula assessment.  This
involves deciding on whether we agree to pay a special assessment beyond the
regular budget assessment requirements.  Households may choose to pay their
assessment in a lump sum, in monthly installments with their condo dues, or
in another arrangement.

2.  If we do not select to pay by special assessment for every project, we
move to the next step for those projects still needing funding:  We ask for
consensus for paying for those projects with a special assessment, with
owners having the option of not paying in full or at all, and others having
the option of contributing more than their share to a pool to bring the
amount up to the necessary sum.

3.  If we do not accept all of the remaining projects for funding in the
second way, we move to the next step, which is asking for voluntary
contributions for the projects that were not approved for funding in either
of the other ways.

This is the background to the questions my neighbor asked me to post. I
would greatly appreciate any responses you can give:

How do different cohousing communities fund capitol projects?

Do you have a separate fund?

Is it in the budget?

I have searched the archives a little, and I am finding it very confusing to
figure out the answers.

I must admit that this kind of technical financial information is not my

So, if some of you could venture some direct and brief responses, it would
be greatly appreciated.

In community,

Sylvie Kashdan

Jackson Place Cohousing
800 Hiawatha Place South
Seattle, WA 98144

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