Now We All Know!

When we purchased our property in Glebe Harbor, in October of 2016, we did not have the ability to attend the meetings that dealt with becoming a Sanitary District, as we simply were not property owners when this change took place. We have inquired many times for answers to our questions, as to what the exact procedure was and what procedures were involved between Westmoreland County and the GH-CP POA Association. We have been given many different answers to the very same questions, so I decided to speak with the Westmoreland County Administrator, and get it directly from him.

On or about Thursday, May 30th, 2019, I had a recorded conversation with the Westmoreland County Administrator, Norm Risavi. The audio you will hear, is used with his permission and this post is being made so everyone who was not here in the beginning, concerning the formation of our Sanitary District, will now have as much information as the people who were.

Norm is a member of our Sanitary District, as he lives here. So is Russ Culver. Russ is a member of the Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors. He represents the 2nd District, which is where our Communities are located. I asked Norm several questions during our conversation concerning our SD as well as our financial situation we are now in.

Norm explained to me that our Community was given three choices to fund our new Sanitary District. The funds could be raised by increasing real estate taxes, personal property taxes or using a Recreational User Fee tax. You will hear this in the audio below.

Since it has been established that 79 signatures out of the total 89 signatures for the petition needed to turn our communities into a Sanitary District, where mostly POA members, who owned water front property, it seems they simply chose the tax system that benefited them the most, and not the rest of our community.

After it was determined that our Community would use the Recreational User Fee tax system, several meetings were held between our Community and Westmoreland County. The price was fixed at $190.00 per year, per taxable lot. This figured was determined by the information provided to Westmoreland County, by our Board of Directors. You will hear this in the audio below.

Our Board of Directors, as well as the original POA members knew this would be the amount they would have to work with. Since we have 1370 taxable lots, multiplied by $190.00, our original budget in 2016/2017 was set at $260,300 dollars. When we had our $10.00 budget increase in 2017/2018 due to inflation, our budget was increased to $274,000 dollars per year. This is where our budget will remain, unless it needs to be raised due to catastrophic events or a small increase for inflation, like the $10.00 that was added last year in 2018.

So how did we get into our financial situation? It is really quite simple to figure out. The first thing our Community did, was go in dept of over $600,000 dollars back in 2016/2017 when we had no money to begin with, according to Dodson, Miller & Associates. The second thing they did was increase our staff payroll budget from $20,155.00 in April of 2016, to $62,270.35 per year, as of July 2017. This information was obtained from the paperwork submitted by the GH-CP Association Secretary.

Before we became a Sanitary District, according to the GH-CP POA Financial Report, their payroll expense was budgeted at $20,155.00 for 2015/2016 . When the POA was making payroll from their own membership generated funds in April of 2016, the same month and year we became a Sanitary District, they seemed to have been very conservative regarding their payroll budget. It was their money and they had every right to spend it as they saw fit.

In the Glebe Harbor – Cabin Point Property Owner’s Association (POA) FY 2017 – 2018 Budget Letter, the Secretary for the Glebe Harbor – Cabin Point Association, made the following statements:

 

  1. The major income component of the budget is the Payroll Reimbursement from Westmoreland County (unless POA employees are made Westmoreland County employees) in the amount of $55,970.

  2. On the expense side, the largest expense is budgeted to be employee payroll (if the POA employees remain as POA employees) of $60,276.

At this time, our employees are still considered POA employees. I discussed our current payroll budget with Norm and he informed me, that our Board of Directors have already been told by Westmoreland County, that they need to reconsider how they spend our monies as a Community. You will hear this in the audio below. Make no mistake about it, the ONLY option we have to reduce our budget and have more money for our own projects, is to reduce our payroll expense and get out of debt.

So how do we increase our budget for our projects? Like any other business or household, we need to find ways to reduce our spending. We know that for our 2020/2021 budget year, we will have finished paying off the last installment of $32,000 loan payment and that money will be available for future projects in the year 2021/2022 budget. We also know that we will not be removing the $73,000 dollar loan payment from our budget, till our 2026/2027 budget year.

The logical solution is to reduce our payroll expense. In fact, it is our only solution. If we keep our current budget for payroll till the year 2026/2027, we will have paid out $372,000. Do we really need a full time secretary and property manager during the fall, winter and spring months, when these services can be preformed by our BODs as well as volunteers?

Combine $60,276 with $32,000 after paying off our loan next year, and we now have close to $93,000 dollars added back into our 2020/2021 year budget. So what happens if we do away with our payroll budget? Well, it means that people we elect to our BODs, will have to start doing their jobs and take on the responsibilities they were elected to do. We are not the lifestyle of the rich and famous and we have no business trying to live or run this Community, above our means. We simply do not have the money to do so.

We do not need to have paid staff at the clubhouse year round. We all know that from the fall through the spring, our Communities are basically a ghost town. Phone numbers can be forwarded, electronic key systems can be installed, volunteers can change light bulbs, people who use the clubhouse can pick up after themselves and  run vacuum cleaners. I know that some people may think that cleaning up after themselves, is beneath them, but if we want to have the money for our other projects, this must be done.

As far as our Communities selling more property since we became a Sanitary District and how our Property values would magically increase, these statement simply are not correct. These people making these misleading statements, simply have no idea what they are speaking about. Norm is going to explain what happened and you will hear his explanation in the audio below.

So for the Members who keep saying we need more money and everyone should have their RUFs increased, honestly, what you really need to do, is step back, take a breath, and try and come up with plausible solutions, to help ensure the well being for our Community as a whole, and not just for the 89 Members who signed the petition to wit 79 of these signatures, own waterfront property. As a Community, we were forced to bail you out, and you chose the tax system that would cost you the least amount of money. Now you need to learn how to live with your decisions, slow down and be patient.

Everyone truly needs to understand that regardless of what you may have been told, Westmoreland County has no intentions of raising our RUF, just to please a few Members of our Communities. As I posted back in December of 2018, there would be no RUF increase this coming budget year, and no increase was added for our 2019/2020 year budget.

Our Community failed under our current leadership and we have no money to make our repairs, due to our current leadership and the Members of our Community, that have followed them. If you want change in our Community, then it must start with each and every Member. We do not need to pay more money each year, we simply need competent Members who know how to bring a Community together, and work as one. Just listen to the audio and make up your own mind. Your neighbor, Dana.