Rancho Santa Fe Association board votes to change allocation of assessment funds

By Karen Billing

Staff Writer

The Rancho Santa Fe Association’s 2011-12 assessment rate will remain the same as last year’s, but the allocation of the assessment funds has been tweaked a little bit.

With a 5-2 vote on Oct. 6, the board set the assessment rate for 14 cents per $100 of property valuation. Due to declining assessment revenue, the budgeted allocation of 11 cents for general services and 3 cents for open space was temporarily changed to 11.5 cents to general services and 2.5 cents for open space.

According to the San Diego County Assessor, there has been a 2.53 percent decrease in RSF Covenant property values from last year, a decrease from $4,032 billion to $3,930 billion.

Directors Ann Boon and Larry Spitcaufsky voted against the change in allocation.

Spitcaufsky wanted to insure that the change in allocation was temporary, an opinion shared by his fellow directors. Spitcaufsky voted against the motion to approve, as it did not include a “drop-dead” date for when the change in allocation would expire, which manager Pete Smith said they would work on.

Boon said the recommendation from the finance committee to change the allocation troubled her for many reasons.

She explained that last year the board rejected the committee’s recommendation that the total assessment rate be reduced by one cent with one cent coming out of open space—meaning savings to the homeowners. The board decided to wait on that change until getting the responses from the community-wide survey (results showed 19 percent ranked open space as the top priority) and until the board reviewed the open space policy, which Boon said they have not done.

Boon was also worried about money spent this year out of free reserves and that if the current assessment rate doesn’t cover projected expenses then the additional funds would have to come out of free reserves.

“If we reallocate the assessment, we may make ourselves feel a little better in the short run but we are not really facing out long-term problem of stagnant and declining revenues,” Boon said. “If we leave the general services allocation at 11 cents we are sending a stronger message to our administrative staff that it must look for ways to reduce expenses.”

Director Anne Feighner also referenced the results of the survey, which showed 86 percent of the Ranch approved of the services the Association provides. She noted that the Association should be careful before they cut services without discussing it with the community, “slash and cut” not always being the best method.

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