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Presidents Letter

President's Message September 2013

With September here now school is back in session, temperatures should start decreasing and the ballots for the Board of Directors positions will be distributed. I would urge all homeowners to attend the Meet the Candidates night on Thursday September 12th at 7:00PM at the Community Center. There are very diverse opinions from each of the candidates on covenants enforcement and common area landscaping, as well as a number of other issues that will greatly affect how CRCA moves forward in the future. This is a good opportunity to get first hand information before you receive your ballot and cast your vote. The choice is yours as to how the association will progress on issues affecting all of us.

The 2014 balanced budget was approved by Board this month, and I want to say that we are in great shape financially. Kudos to the Finance Committee and all Committees for their hard work on developing their budget recommendations and submitting them on time to the Board.  The current Board has worked very hard over the last several years to clean things up and get them to where they are now.  It’s amazing to see how we’ve improved this Association; comparing past affairs, like when the audit found $210,000 that had to be re-allocated from operating to reserves due to unsatisfactory savings practices in 2004 – to now, when we are making reserve account contributions exactly like they are spelled out in the reserve study.  We are currently 103% funded in our savings accounts, which is better than an A+ report card (70% funded is considered “strong” in most HOAs; and we’re 103%).  By making sure we competitively bid all projects and ensuring our Association funds are spent wisely, we’ve been able to afford maintenance of our facilities to high standards (which is a requirement of the CC&R’s), put money into our Association’s savings account, address unforeseen emergencies when they arise; all this without raising assessment dues. It makes me proud to hear residents say that “for the first time I can see where my assessment money goes”, in response to the well maintained facilities and landscaping throughout our community.

It is really too bad that some people do not have the integrity to stand behind their thoughts and instead choose to mail in “anonymous” letters; typically filled with inaccuracies to which the Board has no way to respond. The latest one is so utterly over the top and absurd I thought I would share portions.

“Far too many plants have been planted far too close together…We don’t live in a custom home development, and we don’t live in a secluded high end development, we LIVE in track homes with many of the homeowners making middle income earnings.”

Is this anonymous resident saying that CRCA’s landscape should not look good because we don’t live in custom homes or a secluded high end development? I do not agree- the CC&R’s require that the BOD maintain the common areas to a high standard. Every homeowner living here deserves to have well maintained and common areas they can be proud of and that enhance property values. Maybe the anonymous resident thinks this Board is “breaking the bank” on landscaping; to the contrary, we’ve actually reduced the annual landscape budget by half since 2007.  Under a previous Board, the 2007 landscape project budget was $130,000.  Our current landscape project budget is only $60,000 and has been such since 2009; meanwhile, look at how much the landscape committee has accomplished over the past few years.  Also disconcerting to me, is how the former president of the seniors group is now insisting that we consider abandoning use of winter rye grass in CRCA, leaving us with dead brown grass half the year and only having lush green grass during the summer months (so much for the Easter Egg Hunt!).  The bottom line is that we are getting more for our money than ever before, and we have done so while maintaining the same budget for 6 years running.

The September of 2009 president’s message included a warning about checking your water line pressure regulation valve that controls the pressure of the water delivered to your home. Paula- the covenants enforcement member of management- mentioned a number of homes have sustained broken pipes within their homes resulting in major water damage so I thought it might be a good idea to mention this again with the number of new homeowners in CRCA. All homes have a valve regulating the pressure of the water delivered to each home by Tucson water. Tucson water delivers the water between 76 and 83 psi from it’s main lines. This pressure is too high for home plumbing (50 to 60 psi is recommended) and is reduced by the pressure regulating valve where the water comes into your home. Two things can happen to the valve- it can fail completely which will result in excessive pressure in the plumbing lines in your home which can cause them to burst. I had noticed my water pressure dropping slowly over the last year I had a plumber check my valve. It was a builders “cheapo” and was not working properly- allowing only 40psi to my home. I had them change the valve and the difference in pressure is astounding. Tucson Water told me that it is a good idea to check those valves as they seem to fail usually after 10 years- sometimes less.

President's Message August 2013

The Finance committee has come up with a balanced budget recommendation for our next year with no dues increase required to fund the same amounts required to meet the needs of CRCA.  The Board will finalize the budget at our next meeting. The pools, landscaping, management fees etc. will receive the same funding as before so you should see no change in the maintenance and care of all the facilities and common areas in CRCA. The reserve study calls for reserve contributions to increase $10,000 - $15,000 each year.  Due to planning by the Board, the monies to cover the Reserve contribution increases were available from careful spending over past few years and will cover those increases for each of the next two years without having to raise dues to meet the added expenditures.

While the housing bubble affected everyone there are some bright spots here in CRCA. According to information from the TARMLS (Tucson Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service), CRCA has seen home values increase 17% in the last three years. While things still haven’t fully recovered, it is nice to see increases in our values. The most impressive change was the number of days a house is “on the market” which has averaged 38 days this year - the LOWEST since before 2005.   The other interesting fact from TARMLS is that the total number of homes sold in the first half of 2013 is the most we’ve had in 8 years.  It looks like we’re definitely headed in the right direction.

The Reserve study calls for replacing the kiddy play structure at Windmill Park next year. Rather than having a bunch of us “old fuddee duddees” decide what should be in the new structure I am hoping for some parents of the younger children who use the structure to volunteer to investigate and make recommendations as to what should be included. Please contact the office if you would like to be involved in this upcoming project so that we can have a structure that satisfies those who use it. 

It was nice to see that a few younger homeowners have decided to become involved and are running for the BOD this year. They bring new and fresh ideas with a different perspective on things. What is sad to me is that only five homeowners attended the first nominating committee meeting when they interviewed the first half of the candidates and only one homeowner attended the second interview of the remaining candidates. Ultimately, those candidates who get elected will set the tone and way this association operates; it is unsettling to see homeowners take no interest in something that affects this community so greatly and has very definite impacts on each and every resident living in CRCA.

It was brought to our attention by a homeowner that anyone with a wheelchair would have trouble accessing the grass at Windmill Park from the west parking lot because of the loose gravel used in the landscaping which separates the field from the parking lot. Our Association’s landscape company heard about this and has volunteered to supply the bricks and help grade and place them to provide access for those needing help. Any additional volunteers who would like to become involved in this project would be greatly appreciated. Again, contact this office if you would like to help make this happen. We want to make this a community donation that doesn’t cost the Association any funds.

President's Message July 2013

Windmill Park is finally open for everyone. The Reserve Study called for re leveling the field this year and it became a bigger job than anticipated. Titan Landscaping- our landscape maintenance contractor- ran into more thatch build up than could have been expected. This resulted in them having to do a second dethatching on a large portion of the field and baseball outfield. This had to be done to promote a healthier turf in the long run but also required the field being closed longer than we had hoped. A major portion of both the field and outfield had to be reseeded as well and required watering 2 to 3 times what we would normally do to allow the seed to sprout and get established and also meant not allowing anyone on the turf until it became established. CRCA has a large investment in the turf at the park and baseball field and the Reserve Study recognizes this asset and assures we have the funds to maintaining it to the high standards it should be. They are enjoyed by a large number of residents throughout the year for parties, picnics, pickup games, the Annual Easter Egg Hunt, dog walking, and the list goes on. You may notice that there are still some areas that aren’t 100% established, but we went ahead and reopened the park since we sensed the community was getting pretty anxious about the length of time it had been closed.  Nonetheless, please do take the time to walk through this great asset and enjoy the green grass and nice ramadas we all can enjoy. 

I was pleasantly surprised by the turnout at the first monthly Block Party food truck roundup at Windmill Park. It was a hot but enjoyable evening with a large number of people walking as well as driving to take advantage of the numerous vendors. I have to give credit to Jocelyn and Josh – in the office- for coming up with the idea. It was fun for all who attended with great eats available. Please check it out this month. It is the second Monday of every month from 5PM - 8PM. I even heard rumors that a few bands have contacted the office and would like to play at the event, and Karie has been working on finding a classic car club to show off their rides at the event; let’s hope it gets bigger. Remember to say hi to the Pinup Pastries people- they’re CRCA residents.

There are 10 applications for the upcoming BOD elections with some of the same old faces with a few new ones applying. Be sure to attend the Nominating Committee meetings when they interview these candidates so you have a good idea of who is running and their views on how CRCA should be run.  This is your HOA and it is only as good as the efforts you put into it.

Have a great summer and I hope to see you at the next Block Party food truck roundup.

President's Message June 2013

It is amazing how we all take things for granted and assume that important matters are taken care of. With the fire department doing yearly inspections and requiring us to do things like move a fire extinguisher by a few feet and straightening up a storage closet, I am surprised that they never informed us that there were no smoke detectors or a sprinkler system in the office. I watched a documentary on smoke detectors that covered both photo electric and ionization (the most common one in houses). The photo electric detect smoldering fires, which create smoke but little actual fire. Ionization are best for rapidly spreading fires where there are lots of flames, but little smoke. Most deaths related to fires are from smoke inhalation rather than people being “burned to death.” I decided to change the ones in my house to photoelectric and went to check on the type in our buildings. To my surprise we had none- nor was there a sprinkler system. I had Josh check into putting in a sprinkler system and found it would cost well in excess of $50,000 to put one in. Needless to say one would question why it was never put in during the remodels of both buildings years back. We will be installing photoelectric smoke alarms to start with and will be looking at a sprinkler system in the future.

Having lived here for 10 years now I have also taken for granted our “warm” weather. I traveled to Fort Collins Colorado in late March for a week to be greeted by 8 inches of snow and 30 degree temperatures. I came home and thawed out then spent a week in Kodiak Alaska and another week in Palmer Alaska in mid April doing some training classes for the Operating Engineers Union. The high temp in Kodiak was 41 and we never got out of the 30’s in Palmer- needless to say I was glad to return to my home and our wonderful weather. I guess I have become a “desert rat” and would not trade it.

There are lots of rumors being spread about this BOD that are nothing more than that. Let me remind you that your BOD members are also homeowners and receive no compensation for the time they spend on association business, other than the satisfaction of making CRCA the best it can be. We all take our position seriously and attempt to look out for the community as a whole and not just the vocal few.  The big picture is what counts. Our home values are affected by association actions like everyone else and we all have a vested interest in CRCA.  Some rumors claim that covenants are not being enforced, by directive of the Board.  This is a bit farfetched, especially when over 800 notices were sent out in two months this spring which is almost 25% of the number of residences here.

The last scheduled BOD meeting did not include a homeowner forum. Because of travel, job demands, medical issues, illness, and prior commitments amongst Board members, there has been no quorum for the BOD meetings since February. I did not add the forum to the agenda in May, because I was concerned that after several months of no meetings, there would be more business than usual needing attention. With the meetings exceeding two hours in a normal month it was decided to not have the forum until we get back to the norm of making quorum for our monthly meetings. This did not eliminate input from homeowners on any agenda items but limited the points of discussion just to business related items. The forum has not been eliminated forever, just postponed until the pending regular business gets completed.

We were hoping to have Windmill Park open for Memorial Day weekend but the leveling and preparation was more involved than anticipated and did not allow this to happen. Have a safe and enjoyable summer- the pools are in good shape so enjoy them.

President's Message May 2013

President’s Message

Peggy Bracken – 1st Vice President

With the hot weather approaching the pool sure seems to be busy! I think we have such beautiful pools here and it’s always terrific to see so many people enjoying them. Something we all need to be cognizant of is the pool rules. The pools are a great benefit and enjoyment to a lot of people, but abuse of the rules ruins that. Breaking these rules will now result in loss of pool privileges for a month and also a fine. In previous years our association has spent as much as $60,000 per year for pool monitors, which are essentially “babysitters for adults”. Hopefully with stronger penalties for breaking the rules, everyone will simply behave themselves and we can conserve our association funds. If you observe inappropriate behavior please report it to the office with the specific time and day of the occurrence so we can review the security tapes to see if any action is required. With that said, I hope this leads to a more enjoyable pool experience for everyone -- Cheers to a great summer ahead!

Recently there have been several false rumors spread about the current Board of Directors and association business. You may have read about this in the March Windmill Newsletter. This Board has worked extremely hard over the years to improve the atmosphere in Continental Ranch and has made great strides in an effort to improve the values within our community. There is currently a small number of individuals circulating false and misleading statements. How much does this cost the Association? Well, so far the Association has been forced to spend $4,000 of your money on defending the unfounded allegations of these individuals, who continue to spread false rumors to an otherwise peaceful community. Those of us who have lived in Continental Ranch remember when there were hundreds of unhappy homeowners attending Board meetings, now there are many who complement this Board for the work they do. The intent of this Board is to maintain the values of properties within this community and make it an enjoyable place to live. We feel we have accomplished this goal and done so without any increases to our association dues. The Board would like to thank all of you who have worked in making this community a great place to live at this moment and in the future.

Our landscape committee has worked very hard in making our community nice and colorful. The committee will be working in identifying what plants did not make it through the harsh freeze this past winter. The committee wanted to give ample time to see what plants would grow back before making their decision on replacements. The board would like to thank everyone for their patience while there are some missing plants in the area.

On Saturday April 20th the area enjoyed the first (of many to come) block party held at Windmill Park. Food trucks were located in the parking lot area, at the end of the football field along Coachline. The trucks are self-contained and do not cost the community anything to enjoy these events. I’m really looking forward to seeing these become a monthly community event! A reminder that HOA assessments are due May 1st, with a 15 day grace period to help folks get paid up. A late fee is applied after May 15th. We understand that some people have financial difficulties and so we try to make everyone aware that CRCA will accept a payment plan to help those people stay current. Please contact the office if you need to work out a payment plan, the management staff is happy to assist.