By Sam Richards
(Friday, Sept. 30): The GRF Board on Thursday, Sept. 29 approved a 2023 operating budget that will result in a 6.92% increase in Rossmoor residents’ monthly coupon, bringing the GRF portion of it to $329.92.
The Board unanimously rejected a recommendation made two days earlier by the GRF Finance Committee to use about $230,000 from the GRF 2021 and 2022 surpluses to reduce the GRF portion of residents’ monthly coupon to $327.05, a 5.99% increase from 2022.
Board members said GRF has to have a cash cushion to deal with a prospective emergency, and that $7,400 – what would have been left over had the Finance Committee’s recommendation been adopted instead, after using a large part of the surplus to help pay for replacing the Jenark software system – isn’t enough.
“I think it would be imprudent” to use so much of the surplus for a slight decrease in the coupon, Board President Dwight Walker said.
The 2023 GRF operating budget, as approved Thursday, is $26,430,464.
It will be up to each Mutual’s board to determine their portions of the residents’ coupon, and the Mutuals’ budgeting processes are now underway. GRF has to compute its portion of the coupon before the Mutuals can complete their own computations.
A key aspect of the newly approved budget will be applying $349,549 of the projected 2022 budget surplus, plus applying $140,000 of the 2021 GRF operating budget surplus to begin replacement of the current Jenark accounting and property management software system, as previously approved by the Board.
These are the first major moves as part of a proposed plan to spend up to $2.5 million to replace the 20-year-old Jenark system with a newer, better one that would cover accounting for GRF and the Mutuals, and MOD operations, primarily. GRF officials say replacing Jenark will not only make life easier for GRF employees who use it every day, but also for Rossmoor residents who stand to get work orders processed faster and more accurately, and whose Mutuals would have better, faster and more accurate accounting.
The Board also approved on Thursday spending $435,674 for selection and implementation of an as-yet-unchosen system to replace the current Jenark system, and for spending $53,875 to cover the operating costs associated with six months of operation of the new software.
Also greenlighted was using $505,000 of the projected GRF 2022 surplus to offset the Mutuals’ (MOD) share of the operational costs associated with the Jenark replacement, and $23,761 to Mutual 58 (the Waterford), which isn’t covered by MOD’s maintenance agreements.
Other budget-related decisions made Thursday by the GRF Board include:
- Accepting the Finance Committee’s recommendation to approve increasing guest fees at Rossmoor’s two golf courses but leave resident rates the same from 2023. Weekday rates for guests to play the 18-hole Dollar course will go from $44 to $46 – a 4.5% jump – and from $54 to $56 on weekends, a 3.7% increase.
- Given the GRF has not received a formal notice from Comcast of a rate increase for 2023, reducing the amount budgeted for Comcast services in 2023 from $4,770,036 to $4,586,573.
- Approving spending $36,000 to outsource cleaning of pool facilities, to be achieved via s $11,476 in new spending and reducing employee headcount from 11 to 10.75, thus saving some money.
- Allocating $6,200 to Rossmoor TV for closed captioning software, providing that the Rossmoor News increases total revenue by that amount — $3,200 in classified advertising and $3,000 from display advertising. Rossmoor News also needs to raise another $3,000 in bus advertising to offset professional services’ costs.
- Approving $2,198 to pay for Paylocity recruiting and performance management software modules starting in July 2023 but requiring Human Resources to cut costs elsewhere by that same amount to secure that money.
In another budget-related matter, the GRF Board voted 5-1 to spend $18,750 to pay for eight hours per week additional traffic enforcement by officers of the Walnut Creek Police during the first half of 2023.
The dissenting vote was Walker, who contended Rossmoor shouldn’t have to pay above and beyond the taxes residents already pay for standard police protection, including traffic enforcement. Rossmoor streets are, in fact, Walnut Creek city streets that warrant enforcement measures.
“We are a residential neighborhood that deserves traffic enforcement,” Walker said.
Tom Cashion, Rossmoor’s public safety manager, countered that the money would pay for a level of enforcement beyond what the police provide for most residential neighborhoods.
In explaining his support for this spending, Board member Ted Bentley said seeking added enforcement could bring attention to the fact more enforcement is needed here. “I think we need to get the ball rolling on our end; I don’t see the city coming up with the enforcement we need here.”
Walnut Creek Mayor Pro Tem Cindy Silva told the GRF Board Thursday that Rossmoor does get the same level of enforcement as most residential neighborhoods, but acknowledged it may need more than that, given the high concentration of pedestrians and the age of most drivers in Rossmoor. Silva told the Board that including the $18,750 in the GRF budget “is the first step to a larger conversation” about increasing Rossmoor enforcement in the future.
Pickleball, recycled water facility planning
The GRF Board voted Thursday to continue planning for a pickleball court complex near the Event Center.
However, Walker said he favors delaying any further discussion of a study of a potential Satellite Recycled Water Facility in Rossmoor until after a Wednesday, Oct. 26 town hall meeting in Lafayette, where various options for bringing recycled water to this area will be up for discussion (see separate article in this week’s News).
“We have other options, and we should be looking at them now,” Walker told the Board.
GRF is in the midst of a study of whether building its own recycled water facility -– at an estimated $20 million – to help keep the golf courses green both for quality golf play and to preserve a green space to serve as a firebreak and an emergency gathering area. This would come as water sources grow more expensive and, in some cases, less certain.
The water recycling facility would divert sewage destined for the Central Contra Costa Sanitary District facility in Pacheco and clean it to the extent it could safely be used to irrigate the golf course well into a drought-plagued future. The Golf Maintenance location at Creekside was recently recommended over a site near Rossmoor’s main gate as the primary site.
The Board had previously authorized an agreement with Jett Landscape to complete the plans and specifications for a six-court pickleball complex just southwest of the Event Center building. A subsequent sound study concluded that, without mitigation like a sound wall, the sound decibel level would increase above 3 decibels with play going on, an increase considered “impactful.” But walls around the courts, GRF officials have been told, should keep noise acceptably low for visitors to the Event Center and Dollar Clubhouse and for residents closest to the Dollar area.
After some key revisions, the GRF Board on Thursday approved a new GRF smoking policy, which includes places where smoking will be legal within the city’s 2013 smoking ordinance.
The GRF Policy Committee on Sept. 12 voted to recommend allowing Rossmoor residents, guests and employees and contractors to smoke cigarettes and cigars, and use vaping devices, only on irrigated in-play areas of the golf courses and at Gateway’s Lavender Garden. A designated employee smoking area at MOD is also now formally included.
Smoking also would be permitted in personal vehicles on GRF streets and parking lots. But it would be restricted at all other GRF parks and recreation areas.
This was the second time the smoking rule had come to the Board. The first time, the Policy Committee pulled it back upon realizing it didn’t leave employees with any designated place to smoke.
New Mutual 53
The GRF Board on Thursday voted unanimously to accept Mutual 53 as a beneficiary to the GRF Trust, effectively the final step in creation of this, Rossmoor’s 23rd Mutual.
This 72-manor tract along Terra Granada Drive near Rossmoor’s south end had been, until recently, part of Third Mutual. It was recognized as an official Mutual on Sept. 14.
GOP Club president
The Board voted 6-0 to allow Joyce Ellis to serve as president of the Republican Club for a year, even though she is not a Rossmoor resident. The Board must approve allowing a non-resident to serve as a Rossmoor club president because of existing policies.
Richard Rubin, a club board member, said other prospective club members are too busy to serve as president, that the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt recruitment, that Ellis has been the club’s vice president, and that another person has said they will step into the president’s position in a year, thus limiting Ellis’s term.
Director Jill Alley
Walker said that Board member Jill Alley, the GRF Secretary and director from District F, is taking a three-month leave of absence from the Board. She was not at Thursday’s board meeting; also absent were Vice President Leanne Hamaji and Treasurer Mary Hurt, who were on vacation. Six members were present, more than enough for a quorum.