VUBOQ received some vurrry bad news yesterday. His Co-Op's Board would like to increase his monthly co-op fee by over 30%. Unfortunately, the money tree that grows in VUBOQ's apartment died last year, so he has NO FORKIN' IDEA where he will be able to get that sort of extra fundage. I mean, srsly, my annual pay increase, if I'm lucky, is about 3-4%.
So, next year, if this blog turns into a diary of all my encounters with strange seedy men, you'll know why ...
In the meantime, for your reading pleasure, here's the email I sent to the board this morning [with company names redacted]:
Dear Board Members:
This email is in regards to the proposed 2008 budget and the "substantial" fee increase. I realize that hiring [redacted] as our management company would increase our fee, but I was unaware the increase would be so … substantial.
What is [our management company] doing to justify the increase? As our management company, shouldn't they be working to save us money in other areas (i.e. maintenance, insurance, additional service contracts). I would think that they could employ their greater economies of scale to reduce our operating costs.
In response to your request, I have the following specific concerns/suggestions for the 2008 budget:
1. Under Utilities, will you be planning to charge us an additional air-conditioning fee in the summer or is that included in the Electricity line item?
2. Under Maintenance and Repairs, please explain why a fourfold increase in general building maintenance is needed.
3a. Under Service Contracts, how necessary is the janitorial cost? I am unsure of what [our janitorial company] provides other than sweeping our hallways once a week. I believe this could be accomplished by residents [or, heck, pay me ;-) I promise to charge less than $350/month].
3b. Regarding pest control, is this going to be a monthly service contract or pay-as-needed? Will you be obtaining bids?
3c. Is the gutter cleaning expense something that could be placed up for bid? Is $600 per cleaning the best deal we can get?
4. Realizing that insuring older buildings tends to be more expensive, are we over-insured? Is this an area where [our management company] can help reduce our costs?
5. Unless our by-laws specifically require putting a certain percentage of funds into reserve, I believe this is an area that we could temporarily decrease. Cutting the amount we put in reserve by half (or more) and gradually increasing it over the next several years, may be one way to help mitigate the increase in co-op fees.
Additionally, I am concerned that our reserves are not being invested as intelligently as they should be. CDs and Money Market Accounts typically have the lowest rate of return of any investments. What interest rates are we getting on these accounts? Is it part of [our management company]'s responsibility to manage our reserves more efficiently and earn a higher rate of return? I understand that we do need to have some liquid funds available, but I think we should make the rest of our reserves work for us.
In conclusion, I realize that fees do go up. I hope that you, as our Board Members, will be thinking creatively over the next few weeks to discover innovative ways to prevent such a drastic increase in our fees. Personally, I'd rather not have to take up prostitution to cover the over 30% increase in my co-op fee.
You may now go about your daily business.
Happy Friday. *smooches*