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GRF Board approves cutting coupon by $2.47 per month in 2021

By Cathy Tallyn

Staff writer

 

(Friday, Sept. 25) The GRF Board decided that if there were savings for next year, then those should be passed onto the residents.

On a 6-3 vote, the Board decided Thursday to cut the proposed $23.5 million 2021 operating budget by $235,958. This brings the budget down to $23.3 million and equates to a $2.47 per manor per month coupon reduction. That means residents will pay $291.13 per month for the GRF portion of their coupon next year.

After a marathon meeting with the Finance Committee earlier this month, the Board indicated it was satisfied with a budget that kept coupon costs the same as this year. Most Board members changed their minds after they realized additional savings, especially for Comcast.

“I do applaud the efforts of the Finance Committee,” said Board member Dwight Walker. “But I don’t always agree with them.” He proposed cutting the coupon by $2.47 a month.

“I was present and there were some strong and convincing arguments made (not to cut the budget),”  Board member Dale Harrington said. “There are too many unknowns.”

Staff had recommended any savings be used to offset any increases in costs next year because of an uncertain future due to the pandemic.

“I’m not sure we have to worry about a rebound effect,” said Board member Kathleen Stumpfel. “If things go up more, the residents will just have to understand.”

She noted the possible sale of GRF’s medical office building on Rossmoor Drive could possibly generate money.

During the Residents’ Forum, Mary Ramos said, “We do have a surplus — $2.50 (a month) doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s a good gesture and good stewardship.”

The Board was able to lower the 2021 coupon expense because $183,458 had been budgeted for a rate hike next year for cable TV and internet service.  Comcast didn’t notify GRF by the deadline that it was triggering the 4% increase allowed in the contract.

Also taken out of the 2021 budget was $50,000 for median improvements and $2,500 for bus driver uniforms.

After about 15 minutes of discussion, a majority of the Board voted to decrease the coupon by $2.47 a month. Wanting the money to be saved toward a possible surplus for next year, Harrington, Neva Flaherty and John Kikuchi voted against the decrease.

Residents’ coupon amounts are determined by what the GRF Board thinks it will cost to provide Trust services and also by the individual Mutuals, which determine their own costs.

“Hopefully, the Mutuals won’t be too hard on everyone with their (budget) increases,” said Board President Bob Kelso. “We’ve done our part.”

In other action, the Board decided to keep Dollar and Hillside pools open eight hours a day in December, January and February at a cost of about $18,000 a month.

During normal times, the outdoor pools close for the winter. However, with the Tice Creek indoor pool closed for the foreseeable future due to health regulations, the Board wanted to make sure residents could still enjoy a pool.

The number of pool users will be monitored and if the pools aren’t used very much,  the hours  could be cut.

The Board gave its blessing to the Planning Committee to continue pursuing a plan to add  pathways and parks along Rossmoor Parkway at an  estimated a cost of $2 million to $3 million. Those paths would eventually tie into a loop system of trails around the golf courses.

Landscape Manager Rebecca Pollon outlined a four-phase plan for the parks and pathways. They’re proposed for Golden Rain Road and Rossmoor Parkway and next to the outdoor pickleball courts at Creekside.

“There’s a lot of potential,” Pollon said. “It’s very exciting, but like anything else worth doing, it’s going to cost a lot of money.”

CEO Tim O’Keefe reminded the Board: “You  have a lot of projects on hold that are  already approved.”

He said, “There are other projects that have been waiting a long time.” As an example, he cited the renovation of the Gateway studios.

One of the parks is proposed next to the outdoor pickleball courts, and the Pickleball Club has said it wants a facility built there that could cost $1 million to $2 million, O’Keefe said.

The Board signified it wanted to keep the proposal alive.

“We’re not doing anything other than saying we’ll look at it,” Kelso said. “It’s a project we can debate for next year’s Trust budget.”

The Board also:

  • Sent back to the Policy Committee for some fine tuning its proposed policy regarding demonstrations on GRF property.
  • Approved spending up to $10,000 to buy and install a motorized screen for the Event Center. It will replace one that fell to the floor and was destroyed.
  • Decided it wants service level analyses of the Landscape and IT departments next February and April, respectively.
  • Had the first reading of a new policy on harassment.
  • Accepted Mutual 55 as a beneficiary to the GRF Trust.
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