Gig Harbor, Washington 98335

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Bridgewood Estates HOA Newsletter
January 2009

Message from the President:

In the first two weeks of the year, the Board has received several comments from homeowners that fall generally into two categories:

1. Why is there another dues increase for 2009?
2. We need more services in Bridgewood

I could easily respond by saying that item #2 clearly answers the question posed in item #1, but that is just the beginning. In the six years I have served on the Board, the general reaction among homeowners to an increase in the annual assessment is the same: no one likes an increase in dues. Each year, my reaction to the general objection of a dues increase is also the same: the costs for every item in our budget increase the same as they do for individual households, and the Board does its best to anticipate projected cost increases and adjust the dues accordingly. In dollar terms since January of 2000, annual dues have increased from $325.00 to $495.00, an average annual increase of $18.88, or 5.23%. In 2001, a special assessment of $700.00 per household funded the installation of the entrance gates, and a special assessment in 2008 of $115.32 paid for the mandatory cleanup of the retention ponds and drainage systems.

Regarding point #2, I am past the point of frustration with those who demand extra services without the corresponding willingness to fund them, since we are doing our best just to keep up with general increases. As of January 16th, for example, we are still trying to collect the special assessment from June 2008 for the mandatory work to clean the retention ponds and the drainage system. Two homeowners will face liens on their property next week for not having paid an assessment of $115.32 after six notifications to do so. The legal costs to the Association for filing the liens will exceed the amount to be collected, yet we have no choice. Legal fees are an unfortunate yet ongoing expense, and we have not spoken with any attorneys in the last few years who have reduced their hourly rates.

As the neighborhood ages, the costs of maintaining and repairing infrastructure increases exponentially. At the end of December, the gate arms for both the 25th Street and 28th Street entrances were replaced at a cost of $1400.00, which was an unanticipated expense. This week, approximately sixteen (16) street/gate entrance lamps in Divisions I and II were repaired with some work remaining, and the total cost has not yet been submitted. Many of the lampposts had been repaired in 2008. In the Spring we will replace approximately 80% of the sprinkler system for the common areas, which has deteriorated due to the growth of tree root systems, damage from commercial traffic on Jahn Avenue, and vandalism. We will begin the repair process after Pierce County completes its work on Jahn Avenue; the quote we have received for this repair is @$3600.00.

Anticipating the annual/continual objection to the costs associated with Compass Property Management, allow me to respond as I have many times: in the six years I have served on the Board, I can count on one hand the number of homeowners who have volunteered their time for the good of the community, and it is always the same volunteers. The amount of work required to run all of the affairs of the Association far exceeds the amount of time volunteers can manage. Several homeowners have claimed to know of management firms that charge ‘far less’ than Compass Management for the same services, yet those homeowners have never provided specific information to the board for investigation. The Board did its due diligence the year we contracted with Compass, and Compass provides the lowest cost we could source.

Bridgewood Estates continues to be a superior neighborhood in our area. In spite of the serious downturn in the economy, home prices here have held relatively well over the past twelve months.

On behalf of your volunteer Board members, I invite your comments, with one caveat: we can provide any non-mandatory service that 50% plus one of the homeowners agrees to. All requests beyond those described in the general budget can be accommodated as long as there is funding to provide for the service. Requests are simple; funding is not.

Joe Faulkner