Re: Governance & Income Inequality [ was Common house design, rooms, and room sizes?
From: Jude Foster (
Date: Sat, 14 Feb 2015 10:09:34 -0800 (PST)
I am speaking from a more mature community here, whose budgeting and dues 
process has gotten better and better.

Trillium Hollow, in Portland Oregon - 29 households from studios to 4-bedroom - 
operates with a 3-tiered budgeting system.
Level 1 are the required, non-negotiable expenses - what this thread is calling 
the “HOA budget.”  Included in Level 1 are utilities (all are shared in our 
community), insurance, required payments into Reserves, taxes, and so on.  As 
Liz described, this is the largest part of our dues by far. 

Level 2 are the community expenses, which this thread is calling “coho 
expenses."  These are presented to the community by our teams in late fall, and 
modified/reduced according to feedback if needed, and then approved by a full 
consensus process as a whole at our Budget Faire.    Included here are all the 
expenses that keep the community thriving:  Building and Grounds, Landscape, 
Repair and Maintenance, Common House, Community Enrichment, and so on, and a 
Legal/Financial team-sponsored Contingency Fund.

Our dues are established based on both Level 1 and Level 2.  An interesting 
piece which we condensed on several years ago is that our dues increase is 
based on the current CPI or COLA.  This has simplified and reduced the friction 
at the Budget Faire considerably!  This year our dues went up less than $5 per 
household (depending on size of unit).  But thankfully, we have solid funding 
of Level 2’s established as part of the fabric of our community.  We don’t have 
to reinvent the wheel every year.

Any funds left over after Level 1 and Level 2 can go to Level 3 projects.
These monies are distributed to individuals at the conclusion of the consensus 
process.  The Level 3 projects are developed by teams or individuals, and they 
may or may not be funded, according to the will of the community and according 
to how much $ is available.  This year, Level 3’s included a tetherball 
sponsored by one boy (funded), an improved composting system (mostly funded), 
security cameras (due to bike thefts, mostly funded), and our newly developing 
Emergency Response supplies (fully funded). 

Another note is that our Meal Club is considered voluntary, and is funded 
separately, outside of the budget, by all who participate.

To Liz:  I cannot even imagine a single person having the power to determine 
what goes in Level 1 and Level 2, as you describe here.  Yes, our small 
Treasury team does the bulk of the work, but then with thorough communication 
and openness, brings those less money-minded into the process.    

I hope this was worth writing, interesting to some newer groups out there.  (I 
seem to remember that I have posted the same in recent years, in another thread)
Jude, Trillium Hollow, Oregon

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