Winter is a wonderful time of the year, but it can also give rise to unexpected expenses for an association. HOA managers must think ahead and make sure the HOA snow removal budget is up-to-date. This way, you can ensure a community runs smoothly even during the cold months.
In this article:
Planning for HOA Snow Removal Budget
Some things are obvious and others not as much. One of the ways that snow can affect a community budget is not completing seasonal maintenance on amenities. An unwrapped pipe could burst anytime, resulting in a need for replacement. It can also lead to water damages.
It is vital to have a community association budget that has funds set aside for unexpected events. As an HOA manager, you must keep an updated, logical, and attainable HOA snow removal budget for such occasions. It also pays to stay up-to-date on weather forecasts.
Of course, with snow comes slips and falls. Depending on how the HOA is set up, some damages or injuries that occur in the community can be considered the fault of the HOA and could give rise to legal fees, time, and repair costs.
1. Give Yourself Ample Lead Time
Preparing for snow is hard enough when you are given a reasonable amount of time to do it. How much harder do you think it would be given a time crunch?
When planning your HOA snow removal budget, it is a good idea to give yourself ample time before winter comes knocking.
When faced with a limited amount of time, people tend to do things hastily and without much thought. Snow removal is such an important matter that it warrants sufficient lead time. If you rush your budget and decisions, you can end up with a terrible plan. As a result, your entire community will suffer. Allot a few months for preparation so you can do everything properly.
2. Cut Down on Other Costs
Monthly dues increase every so often, so it is only normal to raise them to make room for your HOA budget for winter.
However, not all boards and homeowners will agree with you. Plus, some state laws only allow you to increase monthly fees by a certain percentage.
For instance, Arizona law mandates HOAs to hold an association-wide vote for the raising of dues by over 20% annually. An HOA’s CC&Rs might also have provisions concerning this matter.
If you want to avoid raising dues or charging special assessments, see if you can cut down on other costs without sacrificing the well-being of the community. Even minor conservation efforts can make significant positive impacts.
For example, you can leave community sprinklers running for 20 minutes instead of 30 each morning. Try doing it for a month to see if it negatively affects plants. If not, you can keep at it to save on water bills.
3. Find a Contractor
It is possible to remove snow and ice yourself. But, it will take a good deal of time, elbow grease, and equipment to accomplish. You will need to stock up on some sand and other products that can melt ice.
This way, you can ensure community walkways are free from potential hazards.
If you can get it done in-house, then, by all means, do so. Otherwise, you should outsource the job to a professional contractor. When deciding on a vendor, it is important to consider how much they charge. Do not just go with the cheapest contractor you can find.
Beyond price, fast and quality service is essential. Send out a request for proposal (RFP) to various snow-removing companies. Let them know how much you are willing to pay for their services. Make sure to ask them for customer references and reviews, too. Hiring a contractor is a vital part of budgeting for winter in an HOA. So, you must weigh your options fairly and go with the one that offers the best price-to-service balance.
4. Get Members Involved
Winter property management should not be a task exclusively reserved for the HOA board or HOA manager. Homeowners must also do their part to make sure their properties are clear of snow and ice. See to it that you communicate with homeowners prior to the winter season. Let them know what to expect and how to deal with snow on their lot.
It is a good idea to set aside a date to personally orient homeowners on this issue. But, due to time constraints and scheduling conflicts, it may not always be an option. Do not let that stop you, though.
Technology has made communication much easier. Send out emails or post updates on your community website/social media page. Distribute flyers or make phone calls — anything you can do to efficiently disseminate information.
5. Do Your Research
HOA winter budgeting should not rely on assumptions and guesses. If you want to effectively plan for your HOA snow removal budget, look at both current and historical data.
Research information about the community, area, past issues, and past victories. Look at typical weather patterns, predictions for the next year, and many more.
Homeowners association management involves a great deal of analytical and logical thinking skills. You must know how to analyze data, implement changes, and self-reflect if the results meet your goal.
Plan for a Safe and Clear Winter
Wintertime brings many pleasures and joys. But without proper planning, it can give you multiple headaches, especially if your HOA resides in a state with plenty of snowfall. Snow and ice can be dangerous to community members, resulting in slips and falls. Therefore, it is integral to have them removed before they can cause harm or damage.
When planning your HOA snow removal budget, give yourself ample time to do research and consider your options. See if you can cut down on other costs to make room without endangering the best interests of the community. Guide residents on the proper procedures for winter cleaning. Most of all, hire a professional contractor to remove the snow for you.
If you find yourself needing more help outside of these tips, we are just one call away.
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