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Directors want to study property sooner as they weigh the 2024 capital projects

By Sam Richards

Staff Writer

 

(Friday, December 15, 8:30 a.m.) GRF Board members on Thursday said they favor moving more quickly with the next phase of determining whether the Rossmoor-owned medical building near Safeway can be practically converted to useful GRF purposes, including as a new MOD building.

That came as part of the discussion about drafting the 2024 GRF Capital Projects bud-get.

The full board got its first look Thursday at the initial proposed list of projects for 2024. The list includes construction of the pickleball structure, expected to begin this spring; the Jenark software replacement project (more about this item later); replacing Creekside Golf Course bridges over Tice Creek; resurfacing of Buckeye tennis courts; continuation of the Pedestrian and Vehicle Safety Project; replastering of the Tice Creek swimming pool and spa; and replacing communications technology at the Event Center. All the proposed projects on that list, viewable at https://tinyurl.com/ yxjvzd5z , come with a combined projected cost of $9.173 million.

Board President Dwight Walker said he would like to see the GRF Finance Committee analyze that project list and come up with moves to lower that total figure. All capital projects are funded through the Trust Estate Fund, mostly Membership Transfer Fees of $12,500 paid whenever a new resident buys a home in Rossmoor. With the number of future home sales never certain, making commitments to pay for future projects can be risky.

“We’re never going to have enough money to do everything,” Board member Ted Bentley said.

Some of the projects on the initial 2024 list – golf-related drought projects, a pedestrian gate at Rossmoor’s entry point and Dollar Clubhouse patio improvements – had been deferred from the 2023 Capital Projects list. Those, and others, could conceivably be deferred or delayed again, said Ann Mottola, Rossmoor’s director of community services.

Mottola recommended other projects – the Jenark switchover to NetSuite and related IT network gear replacement, the pickleball structure, the golf bridges – be prioritized to happen sooner rather than later. And Board member Mary Hurt cautioned that holding off on projects usually means increased costs for them down the road; she cautioned the Board to be judicious about which projects it holds off on.

But Board members said they favor accelerating the Medical Center project, specifically studies that had been planned for 2025 and 2026. Knowing whether that now-vacant building could be converted into a new Mutual Operations Department would be better sooner, especially if it turns out selling the building is its best ultimate use.

Adrian Byram, chairman of the Finance Committee, advised the Board Thursday to maintain an “available cash” balance of $3 million, and that to do so may require raising the Membership Transfer Fee to more than the $13,000 it will be starting Jan. 1.

Board members praised GRF staffers who this year, for the first time, created a fiveyear plan for Capital projects (though each year will continue to be approved separately, every January), which they said aids in future planning.

The GRF Finance and Planning committees will each scrutinize the 2024 Capital Projects list one more time, before the full GRF Board is set to make final decisions at its January meeting .

‘Milestone’ in replacing Jenark The Board on Thursday voted unanimously to ratify a move they made during a Nov. 28 “executive session” (closed) meeting – the approval of a five-year agreement with Net-Suite, plus a two-year option, for replacement of GRF’s Jenark business and accounting software, at a cost of up to $1.3 million.

The new NetSuite software is expected to replace the 21-year-old Jenark software that manages accounting for GRF and Rossmoor’s Mutuals, and MOD operations. GRF officials contend the new NetSuite software can do more things, and better, than the Jenark system. It is believed Net-Suite will make GRF employees’ work more efficient and benefit residents who would get work orders processed faster and more accurately. Net-Suite would work with a new “residential portal” that will assume the duties of the current MyRossmoor portal. The Mutuals also would have better, faster and less error-prone accounting processes.

Thursday’s ratification includes spending up to $100,000 to extend a contract with Pemeco for consulting and advisory services while overseeing the implementation of NetSuite.

GRF General Manager Jeff Matheson said NetSuite is destined to be “the backbone infrastructure of our software system,” onto which other software programs can be added as required.

Two days earlier, GRF Chief Financial Officer Tom Hand told the GRF Finance Committee the NetSuite contract was approved in an emergency closed-session meeting because there was a hard deadline to get a 56% discount from “retail pricing” on the Net-Suite package, cutting its price from $2.925 million to $1.286 million.

Byram on Dec. 5 asked Hand whether ongoing costs for operating the NetSuite system will increase over what was spent on Jenark. Hand said bringing in NetSuite is expected to cost GRF an added $209,000 per year, for what he described as the “gold standard” for such operating systems.

On both Dec. 5 and last Thursday, Byram said that, not taking NetSuite’s quality into consideration, $209,000 a year could represent an increase of $3 per month on a resident’s coupon.

“We need to understand … how this is going to affect us in our going forward, whether we’ll have to raise revenue (that is, increase the coupon) or cut costs one way or another,” Byram said.

Food services study

Following a November recommendation by the Planning Committee, the GRF Board on Thursday unanimously approved paying Newport Beach-based Synergy Restaurant Consultants up to $70,200 to conduct a study of what food and beverage services Rossmoorians want, and would support, within the gates.

This study will look not only at the market in Rossmoor for various food-related services – restaurants, bars, caterers and coffee bars, for example – but also at Rossmoor’s capacity to accommodate such services.

In October, the Planning Committee showed initial support for awarding that contract to San Francisco-based Upraise Marketing and Public Relations Inc. But Mottola asked Upraise, Synergy and a third firm, Webb, to submit new bids. Mottola said Thursday that she thought Synergy has wider-ranging expertise than the other bidders, and that Synergy proposed doing more face-to-face gathering of residents’ opinions, versus relying on surveys.

Mottola said she expects Synergy people to begin interacting with Rossmoorians in March.

Good fire safety news

GRF Public Safety Manager Tom Cashion told the Board last week that a $3.1 million grant obtained by the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District in June 2022 will clear a wider swath of acreage on the ridges above Rossmoor than originally thought, insulating Rossmoor even more from the threat of wildfire.

That revelation, Cashion said, followed a recent survey of that land encircling Rossmoor by fire district personnel. Cashion also said he expects the clearing work to begin in January.

Also at Thursday’s GRF Board meeting, Jeroen Wright, GRF’s Mutual Operations director, said ef-forts to establish an accredited Firewise USA group in Rossmoor to promote and educate on home fire safety are close to completion, with the National Fire Protection Association asking that five separate zones be established within Rossmoor, each with its own leader, to carry our Firewise programs.

Having an active certified Firewise program is expected to help Rossmoor keep or expand insurance coverage, in an era when insurance is more expensive and less available every year.

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