With the annual meeting behind us and our new board seated, we wanted to take the opportunity before our first 2017 board meeting to share our strategic priorities for the neighborhood for 2017 and beyond. First, we’d like to thank all those residents who’ve e-mailed us or spoken at the meetings this past year. We’ve heard loud and clear that aesthetic issues within the neighborhood are important to you. Concerns about street parking and lawn maintenance and landscaping upkeep are ongoing so we are going to devote time to focus on those in addition to a few other important areas.
We know other HOAs in Austin with public right-of-way are enforcing street parking restrictions so we’ve decided to revisit this issue and seek independent legal advice to help us develop a legally compliant and defensible policy on street parking. Before any changes to the current policy are made, rest assured, the Board will provide plenty of advance notice so that residents have a chance to come into compliance before any fines are assessed. Street parking is more than just an aesthetic issue. Excessive cars on our interior streets can dangerously obstruct visibility, impede the passage of emergency and delivery vehicles and prevent collection of trash and recycling containers. For these reasons, we think this is an important initiative and we hope to be able to share more information in the very near future. In the meantime, we ask that Members and their guests please continue to comply with the published restrictions and refrain from street parking.
Next, as part of a concerted effort to improve the overall aesthetic appearance of our lawn and landscape resources, we’ll be taking a two-pronged approach. First, we’re working with our landscape contractor to make improvements along Boulder Lane. Unsightly areas of bare dirt and tree roots can be seen due to erosion and excessive shade that prevents sod from growing. We allocated $10,000 in the 2017 budget to address this need through new beddings and mulch and plan to see how far we can stretch that. Second, we know that compliance with our lawn and landscape rules has become lax in recent years and this is something we plan to work on as well. We’re going to be considering updates to strengthen the association’s Fine Policy for non-compliance and also communicate appearance and maintenance expectations for lawn and landscape elements. As with the current policy, residents will be given multiple opportunities with appropriate cure periods to comply before incurring fines.
Our Fine Policy is not intended nor expected to be a revenue source for the Association. Rather, its purpose is as a tool to help ensure compliance and it’s only after multiple requests to correct an infraction that fines are incurred. Our goal, in fact, is to have NO revenue from fines and if we do a good job communicating what is expected then we think this is achievable.
Additionally, the board continues to develop plans and timelines for improving and upgrading our infrastructure and amenities. We’re continuing our program of annual inspection and replacement of the panel fencing along Boulder Lane and will also address a handful of deferred maintenance tasks around the pool to improve safety and appearance. Many newer residents with young families have also asked about the possibility of installing a splash-pad area within the pool complex for our littlest residents and that is something that our amenity directors have been looking into and are excited about. Naturally, our highest priority is seeing the bathhouse/clubhouse project through to successful completion on time and on budget. You can read more about that project and the special assessment here and we'll be posting regular updates once things get going here.
And finally, we continue to look for ways to reduce our operating costs. In 2016, we switched landscape and irrigation contractors and consolidated to a single service provider resulting in a $15,000 annual savings to the Association. Costs for property and casualty insurance have also risen (in round numbers) from $8,500 to $14,500 in recent years and options for reducing that expense are being looked at currently.
In closing, let us say that we’re very excited about the year ahead. We’ve put a lot on our plate and there’s a lot we want to accomplish so the Directors will be meeting about every other month going forward and giving residents multiple opportunities to see and comment on our work before we adopt any new policies, make changes to existing ones or embark on any major projects. All HOA members are welcome to attend the board meetings and sign up to speak. Of course, you may also reach the directors at anytime by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Look for us to publish the schedule of board meetings in the coming days.