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Winter storms slam GRF budget

January revenue fails to hit budgeted target

By Sam Richards

Staff writer

(Friday, Feb. 24): GRF financial officers found themselves in an unfamiliar spot Thursday, having to report to the Board about Rossmoor suffering a month during which revenue fell shy of the budgeted target for the first time in quite a while.

GRF revenue was 7.6% under budget targets in January. Revenue for January 2023 was under budget by $231,000. The single biggest contributor was golf revenue, falling $232,000 below budget, GRF Chief Financial Officer Joel Lesser told the Board at its Feb. 23 meeting.

The heavy rains of New Year’s Eve and the first week of January were directly responsible for the two main reasons GRF reported a $51,000 “negative budget variance,” when revenue didn’t meet budgeted expectations for January 2023 – expensive repairs of storm damage, especially mudslides, and much-lower-than-anticipated golf revenues, caused by a course golfers couldn’t play.

With no one able to play until Jan. 24, the number of golf rounds played in January 2023 was 76% below that same level from January 2022, when there was virtually no rain. Golf revenue this past January was $232,000 less than called for in the budget.

Another factor, Lesser told the Board, was lower-than-anticipated revenue from Membership Transfer Fee revenue, one-time payments by new residents buying a residence in Rossmoor, which feed the Trust Estate Fund. January’s $200,000 of MTF income was 35.5% less than taken in during January a year ago.

Largely offsetting that, Lesser said, was that total GRF expenses were under budget by $180,000, or 7.1%. The bulk of that expense saving was the number of unfilled GRF job positions, resulting in $133,000 less in expenses.

Overall, GRF revenue in January of $2.8 million was still higher than that month’s expenses, listed at $2.35 million. So GRF certainly isn’t losing money.

Even so, GRF Board members asked whether the budget situation can be corrected by the end of the year. General Manager Jeff Matheson reiterated that it’s only February, and that there’s plenty of time for a financial rebound.

Concerns about money seem to have prompted caution with approval Thursday of the purchase of a golf course lawn mower. A $150,000 precision fairway mower had originally been requested, but because that specific mower is no longer manufactured, a $125,000 mower designed for the rough was substituted, and a $25,000 lightweight utility vehicle added to the request, bringing the total allocation back to $150,000. But the Board approved the purchase only of the lawn mower, deferring the utility vehicle purchase to a later date.

Civility Task Force

The Board got its first look Thursday at the final report of the GRF Civility Task Force, formed last September to tackle issues around a perceived uptick in uncivil behavior between Rossmoor residents and GRF employees, and among residents. GRF officials said such incidents, likely exacerbated by frustrations with the effects of COVID-19 lockdowns and isolation, combined with the pains of growing older, likely prompted the departure of several GRF employees.

The Civility Task Force met six times, most recently Feb. 7, to discuss various episodes of uncivil behavior, and invited several guest speakers, including GRF senior managers, to be part of those conversations.

No formal action about the Civility Task Force’s findings was taken Thursday, but it was generally agreed that much resident frustration has stemmed from uncertainty about who handles specific jobs or solves specific problems in Rossmoor – most often, a question of whether GRF or a resident’s Mutual is the proper place to turn with a question or problem.

Among the task force’s recommendations that found favor with Board members last week were continuing to rotate stories about propagating civility into the Rossmoor News; using a bulletin board at Gateway to post information about whom to address with various Rossmoor resident concerns; and creating a comprehensive Q&A section on the MyRossmoor portal.

Comcast renewal

The GRF Board also unanimously approved a five-year contract extension with Comcast for both cable and internet service. Comcast has agreed to maintain the current pricing of $57.24 a month per household (plus taxes and fees) through the first year of the agreement, which means no increases until at least Jan. 1, 2025. The current agreement was set to expire at the end of this year.

Matheson described this as a great deal for Rossmoor residents. “This is a good-news story,” he said.

In addition to current cable TV and internet services, the new package continues to offer the Sports and Entertainment package, including Turner Classic Movies, and free common area Wi-Fi. It also adds Ultimate Line-Up with high definition (HD), 20 hours of cloud DVR service, an upgrade in the current internet speed and HD for Rossmoor’s Channel 28 programs.

In other action, the GRF Board on Feb. 22:

  • Approved raising the fees for various Alteration and Resales functions. These fees were last raised in 2019. For example, a resale inspection that costs $350 now will cost $400, starting March 15. The Mutual Operations Department (MOD) sought the increases to offset rising salary and overhead costs; in 2022, the resale and alteration department showed a loss of $68,690. A comprehensive list of the changes can be found here: Mutual Operations Director Paul Donner said these fees must be high enough to fully support this department’s operations, to avoid passing along costs to all of the residents in the coupon.
  • Approved spending $25,000 from the Trust Estate Fund to pay for new “switcher” equipment for Rossmoor Television. Older equipment, which allows videographers to switch among various cameras and other video sources during a live or recorded broadcast, failed at a recent Event Center program. Station Manager George Ivanov and Studio Supervisor Brendan Kelly will build a customized system they believe will cost less than half of the amount needed to buy a comparable all-in-one system. Among other attributes, this equipment will allow for 3D broadcasts of Channel 28 programming.
  • Approved spending up to $10,000 for Milliman, a financial/insurance/investment company, to analyze whether it’s more fiscally prudent for GRF to continue paying approximately $1 million a year to fund its pension program, or whether an annuity or lower contribution would be better. (The pension program will eventually end, as enrollment of new employees stopped in 2009. But some employees hired before 2009 are still part of the pension plan.)
  • Approved spending up to $75,000 for an amended contract with Securitas for previously approved enhancements to Access Control Project’s Phase 2, which includes Openpath door access controls within Gateway, Rossmoor News and the Public Safety office, and security cameras at the Rossmoor News.