By Tom Lang
Rancho Santa Fe Association presidentThe Association’s annual assessment to its membership will remain at the current level of 14 cents per $100 of property valuation (set by the County of San Diego) for the fifth year in a row.
During four of the last five years property values increased. This provided increased revenue for the Association at the same assessment rate. The current rate of 14 cents per $100 of property assessed is the lowest in the history of the Association.
However, this year property valuations as determined by the County of San Diego went down. As a consequence, property values in the Covenant decreased for the first time in 30 years. The rate of the decrease was 3.2 percent.
During the budget process it was projected that property values would remain flat for this year. The projection was deemed conservative as the smallest percentage change in the last 30 years was a positive 1.46 percent. The recent unexpected 3.2 percent drop represents a decrease of approximately $150,000 in general service revenue. The good news is that a surplus was projected for this fiscal year budget. Therefore, the Association will have room to meet its budget objectives for year ending June 2011. Looking ahead for 2011/12, I can say that there are no new increases being contemplated or even discussed.
The current assessment of 14 cents is split into two areas. 11 cents is deposited into General Service fund for Association operations. The remaining 3 cents is set aside for potential open space purchases. The open space policy dates back to 1984 when funds were first accumulated in a special fund to purchase land that would help preserve the Covenants rural character. Since that time approximately 16 million dollars of open space has been purchased with no current outstanding debt on these purchases.
The last community survey regarding open space was in 1999. At that time the community was 65 percent in favor of purchasing land for open space. Currently, the Association board does not know where the Association members stand on this issue. The current Long-Range Planning Committee is working on a survey for Association members. Part of this survey will poll the membership on the question of open space. In other words, should we continue to set funds aside to purchase open space property or not. The survey will be sent out in November and your participation would be greatly appreciated.
In summary even though our assessment revenue is lower the Association remains in a strong financial position. These are challenging times and no one is immune from the current national economic downturn. I am committed, along with the current board of directors and the Association staff, to keep a watchful eye on your assessment dollars and work within the approved budget.
If you have any questions regarding the budget process or the annual assessment fee please call a board member or the Association staff.