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GRF portion of coupon expected to rise by $5.40 next year

Joint GRF Board/Finance Committee meeting held to discuss 2024 budget

By Sam Richards

Staff writer

(Friday, Sept. 15): Pending a few likely last-minute adjustments, the GRF portion of the annual coupon for 2024 figures to be $335.32, an increase of $5.40, which is a 1.64% jump from 2023.

This figure – which would include cable television/internet – was revealed near the end of the annual joint GRF Board/Finance Committee meeting held Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 12 and 13. There, financial issues concerning all of GRF’s operating departments were discussed ahead of creation of the 2024 GRF budget, and the annual budgets for the Mutuals.

Given the well-placed concern about skyrocketing property insurance rates and how they affect GRF’s blanket policy, GRF Board President Dwight Walker said after the joint meeting that holding the 2024 GRF coupon increase to 1.64% is “miraculous,” but he tempered that.

“The big insurance increase will be with the Mutuals,” each of which formulates its own coupon amount that is added to the GRF portion of the coupon, which applies to residents of all Mutuals and is the same amount for all of them, Walker said.

That 1.64% increase compares with the 2023 coupon increase of 6.92%.

Rossmoor’s insurance broker, A.J. Gallagher, has said GRF’s property insurance premium is expected to go up by 34.6 % in 2024, mostly as the result of a plethora of expensive disasters all over the country and world this year. Walker called the property insurance increases “the biggest issue facing our community.” Also going up substantially are earthquake insurance premiums, by 25% in 2024.

In response to the latter, the Board and committee on Sept. 13 favored reducing earthquake coverage from $10 million to $5 million to save money, so long as GRF continues to divert $250,000 a year to its reserves.

Other cost increases faced by various GRF departments include Rossmoor News printing costs expected to go up by $21,500 in 2024; increased tree maintenance costs for Landscape Maintenance; and cost increases for several sorts of facility maintenance supplies, including refrigerant and HVAC system filters.

GRF managers presented a $22.96 million draft 2024 operating budget at the joint meeting. GRF General Manager Jeff Matheson said the overriding goal was to maintain Rossmoor’s existing amenities, to preserve the level of service residents have grown to love, despite the economic challenges.

As originally presented, that budget would have resulted in a 5.37% increase from the 2023 budget numbers. But several managers were asked during those two days to make further reductions or increase projected revenue, which either had been proposed before the end of the two-day meeting or would be done ahead of the next GRF Finance Committee meeting, scheduled for later this month.

Some of the additional savings included reducing transportation by one bus driver and trimming more than $57,000 from the IT budget. Staff also added revenue increases for excursions, personal training, golf cards and newspaper advertising.

The departmental budget numbers discussed this week were compiled after the GRF Board on Aug. 31 approved a series of fee increases for some facility/meeting room rentals, for Handyman repair services, for residents’ golf rounds, and for RV storage.

Several residents protested the amount of the fee increases. One of them, Bert Pankler, called the planned increases in annual RV storage rates from $500 to $1,000 a year for a covered space near the Mutual Operations Department (MOD), and from $350 to $500 for an uncovered space, as “drastic, we could even say draconian.” Others said increases should be more in line with what other 55-plus communities charge, rather than what the market may bear.

But the combined GRF Board/Finance Committee gathering did not talk about reversing the fee increases and the increased revenue they are expected to bring. The hikes, in fact, were proposed in part to help offset dramatic increases in property insurance premiums in 2024.

After several GRF departments experienced restructuring, the number of GRF “full-time-equivalent” employee positions is expected to go from 134.55 currently to 137.35 next year. That encompasses approximately 257 total employees. including part-time and part-time on-call employees.

The Finance Committee will review these numbers again at its next regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 26, and a 2024 budget could be approved by the GRF Board at its next regular meeting two days later, on Sept. 28.