Re: Governance & Income Inequality [ was Common house design, rooms, and room sizes?
From: Diana Carroll (
Date: Sat, 14 Feb 2015 10:42:31 -0800 (PST)
"our dues increase is based on the current CPI or COLA."

Do you never have expenses that increase more than inflation?

This year we saw a big jump in HOA dues in large part because of a big jump
in a couple specific expenses beyond our control: one, here in MA the
electric rates for 2015 were raised by about 30%; and the state regulations
for management of municipal water treatment (which govern the system we
have here) were changed in a ways that required is to hire a new contractor
to manage our water supply...and the new contractor was significantly more
expensive than the previous one.

A COLA increase would simply not have covered our mandatory expenses this

To correct your read of prior emails, no one person in our community gets
to SET the budget; the whole community consenses on it.  But the Trustees
are responsible for putting together a budget for consensus, and until this
year the Trustee who was primarily responsible for doing this job was me.
The whole community would then review and discuss and propose changes and
all that, but my experience is that most people are not very interested in
numbers and budgets, so there are rarely major changes to the budget the
Trustees propose before consensus. (One of many reasons I left my position
as a Truatees is my frustration with what seems to me to be a general lack
of interest by both other Trustees and our community as a whole in the
subject of money, which I consider very important to the community.  And I
have little patience for people complaining about how high the condo fees
are, but not being actively engaged in the process of setting them.)


On Saturday, February 14, 2015, Jude Foster <foster.jude [at]> wrote:

> 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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