|Re: cohousing financial records and accounting||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Sharon Villines (sharonsharonvillines.com)|
|Date: Mon, 7 Aug 2017 05:40:54 -0700 (PDT)|
> On Aug 6, 2017, at 2:46 PM, mr-personal <r3vm53 [at] gmail.com> wrote: > > Out of my current interests and background in economics, I am seeking > examples of how cohousing entities are arranging their general financial > record keeping and reporting. It would be interesting to look at how much each community spends per adult resident. I think that would give the best comparison. By household isn’t because each one is different. The main difference will be between communities that only have the CH as a common expense — the lot/single house model vs the attached dwellings where all expenses are common. We hire a management company to manage our finances and always have. I don’t think it is necessary at all and believe we would do a better job. There is still a lot of oversight and correction of accounting on our part. It’s like doing your taxes. The major task is collecting all the receipts and sorting them out. For most of us there is no point in then hiring someone to fill in forms. Accountants could hand them to their secretaries to fill out after all that work is done. Particularly with automatic withdrawals for utilities, etc, much of the monthly check writing is done. The guidance from a CPA for non-profits is to have two people (at least) involved in the books — one who handles the bills and payments, and the other who does the accounting and bank stuff. Transparency is the best policing you can find. We circulate monthly statements. We’ve had four management companies and we’ve had many problems. They have lost bills and forgotten to remind us when a credit card changes to make those changes everyplace that we use the card. Online services don’t send bills, for example. Once our utilities were almost turned off because the company had lost the bills and didn’t notice that the account for utilities was behind in the monthly reports. Another time when our common internet service went down, our in-house techs spent two days looking for the problem in 2 modems, several networked routers etc. We had no internet service. Finally the techs discovered that the bills hadn’t been paid so service had been turned off. The electric gate was covered by a quarterly contract but we couldn’t get the person to come out automatically because he wasn’t being paid promptly. One of the big tasks in most condos is tracking monthly fees — late and no payments. We have had almost no households in arrears. I’m assuming other communities are the same. I can remember only two instances in 17 years. I don’t know about all of them but have been on the board for about half of those years. If there are more it would probably be another 2-3. One was because the person had been paying the previous years fee and had to catch up. Another had lost a job. Non-profits are a major source of employment in DC and they took a big hit in the housing bust—lowering salaries across the board, cutting staff and programs, or closing down altogether. Since we have had others who have lost jobs, they may also have gotten behind. But basically this is NO problem and no reason to hire a management company. Do look at Freshbooks. It is much easier to use than Quickbooks. It’s only 3-4 years old so it doesn’t have the baggage of Quickbooks and doesn’t use all the historical arcane language of accounting. It was developed as an online service so it doesn’t have all the baggage (like Microsoft) of maintaining practices from 30 years ago. Freshbooks isn’t hugely expensive and support is very good. Much cheaper than a management company or accountant. Support staff understands and speaks normal language. And it is a pleasing design. And it can import Quckbooks accounts. Some people use both and integrate accounts. (Accountants like Quickbooks and only use it because they always have.) Our management companies want us to have fewer accounts for their convenience but this is our budget and each line may be overseen by a different person. Under the Community Team, for example, there is a line for CHIP or Common House Interiors. I’m point person and that is our budgeted amount. Having our own budget line helps me keep track of things. If the items were treated traditionally, those expenses would be split between several different accounts — furniture, maintenance, contracted services, kitchen supplies, etc. A nightmare for me. We also have budget lines that one person oversees to ensure that bills are paid and contracts updated properly. All services related to internet, for example, are handled by one person because he also looks for lowest rates and renewals of domains, etc. We don’t automatically renew at whatever rates the service charges us. This is an excellent project and will be very helpful to new new communities. Our pre-move-in budget was far to low and condo fees had to be increased 66% over the next few years. A crunch for some residents. Good financial management keeps the community affordable. Sharon ---- Sharon Villines Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC http://www.takomavillage.org
cohousing financial records and accounting mr-personal, August 6 2017
- Re: cohousing financial records and accounting Sharon Villines, August 7 2017
- Re: cohousing financial records and accounting Fred-List manager, August 28 2017
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