1. Create a schedule and timeline for your HOA budgets:
Taking the necessary time upfront to develop a realistic plan for your association budget will make this process smoother. Start by identifying when the final budget is due and then work backward to create checkpoints along the way. Together with your manager, determine any timing requirements dictated by state or local laws and ordinances, the association’s governing documents, or the management contract.
- Assign groups to set budget assumptions:
The location of your community will likely determine the specifics of this step, but the purpose remains the same. Engage the appropriate teams, committees or individuals, and outline what is expected to ensure that you are working with realistic numbers and accurate data. Since your budget will only be as good as the information you are working with, don’t overlook the importance of this step in the process.
- Review expenses and trends:
While each community has its unique circumstances when it comes to specific expenses, there are common trends that impact all communities. Understanding those trends and leveraging that information when creating your budget is important. Association expenses can generally be categorized as follows (and you should ensure a thorough review and recommendation for each):
Repairs and Maintenance
Payroll and Medical Benefits
In addition to the categories above, it is also good practice to consider factors like the prior year’s deficit or surplus, repair versus replacement decisions, proper monthly cash flow, and accounts receivable delinquencies.
- Identify any income sources:
Determine if your association has any revenue streams that will offset the common expenses in your budget. This may include income sources ranging from access cards and storage to parking revenue and commercial rent.
- Budget review:
The finance committee or the board will review the first draft of the budget. During this time, it is prudent to examine all items in the budget with your management team, including the contracts, assumptions and trends that influenced the output. This is an opportunity to make any recommendations and request changes, prior to the approval of the final draft.
- Final budget approval:
Once you have worked with your manager to make the appropriate modifications to the draft, it is time to approve the budget according to your community’s governing documents. You will also want to ensure that owners are properly notified of the approved budget and its impact on their association dues.