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Subject: Holiday Party Spending
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Author Messages
BillD16
(Texas)

Posts:73


11/15/2021 7:56 AM  
I’m Treasurer of 600 unit HOA in Texas. I inherited a budget, which includes $4000 for “Social”: Easter egg hunts, etc throughout the year. This year, due to Covid, the Social committee has only spent $500.

The Social committee wants to throw a Holiday party. I personally feel that the party cost should be capped at $500. No cost estimates have been forthcoming. My concern is that the Social committee is thinking they can spend $3500 on this party. I don’t believe the Social committee should spend the remaining $3500 in their budget on a party{1}. Am I being a Grinch?

(Despite my best efforts, I do not believe the other Board members are aware of how much is left in the Social budget).

Thoughts?

Bill (no, they haven’t kicked me off yet)

{1} I’d like to see the various budget surpluses (there are a number of them; it’s not a very good budget) go to our reserves.
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:588


11/15/2021 8:16 AM  
Don't waste time worrying about something that hasn't happened yet, that you don't even know will happen.

Go ask the social committee "hey what are you planning for the holiday party".

And of course - be willing to graciously accept the decision of the board even if you don't agree with it.
DouglasK1
(Florida)

Posts:1689


11/15/2021 8:17 AM  
A budget is a spending plan, not an authorization to spend money. Unless the board has already voted to give the committee authority to spend up to 4k as it sees fit, any expenditures should be approved by the board (make a motion, second, vote).

Escaped former treasurer and director of a self managed association.
NinaC2
(North Carolina)

Posts:15


11/15/2021 8:25 AM  
Can you explain why you feel that way? Has there been historically low turnout? $500 divided by 600 units, well, you can do the math. Without explanation, seems arbitrarily austere.

Our community consists of 60 units and we have budgeted $400 for a 2hr festive gathering.
NinaC2
(North Carolina)

Posts:15


11/15/2021 8:25 AM  
Can you explain why you feel that way? Has there been historically low turnout? $500 divided by 600 units, well, you can do the math. Without explanation, seems arbitrarily austere.

Our community consists of 60 units and we have budgeted $400 for a 2hr festive gathering.
NinaC2
(North Carolina)

Posts:15


11/15/2021 8:25 AM  
Can you explain why you feel that way? Has there been historically low turnout? $500 divided by 600 units, well, you can do the math. Without explanation, seems arbitrarily austere.

Our community consists of 60 units and we have budgeted $400 for a 2hr festive gathering.
AugustinD


Posts:1905


11/15/2021 8:30 AM  
BillD16,

Perhaps you sign the checks, but it seems to me that you do not have the authority to approve the spending. I suggest telling the committee that the request seems a bit unusual, given everything, and you are only comfortable signing a check if the board approves the cap the committee wants for this holiday party. I suggest the committee send a short communication to the board asking for its cap for the party.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8720


11/15/2021 9:03 AM  
Totally agree that the Soc. Comm. should make its request to the Board, Bill. As noted, you have no authority about how their budget is spent. but the Board does with its vote.

A really nice party can do a LOT to bring together folks in your community and encourage them to feel a sense of belonging & membership.

$500? Really?
BillD16
(Texas)

Posts:73


11/15/2021 11:11 AM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 11/15/2021 9:03 AM
Totally agree that the Soc. Comm. should make its request to the Board, Bill. As noted, you have no authority about how their budget is spent. but the Board does with its vote.

A really nice party can do a LOT to bring together folks in your community and encourage them to feel a sense of belonging & membership.

$500? Really?




I looked back at the records - for the past couple of years, the average Social committee party expense has averaged less than $500 per event.

What I've gotten so far from this thread is that the Board can vote to limit the expenditures of a committee? That sounds reasonable. I don't have a problem with throwing a party. It's the "hurry up and spend the budget before the end of the year" thinking that bugs me in this context.

(Grinchy) Bill
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:588


11/15/2021 12:21 PM  
Posted By BillD16 on 11/15/2021 11:11 AM
Posted By KerryL1 on 11/15/2021 9:03 AM
Totally agree that the Soc. Comm. should make its request to the Board, Bill. As noted, you have no authority about how their budget is spent. but the Board does with its vote.

A really nice party can do a LOT to bring together folks in your community and encourage them to feel a sense of belonging & membership.

$500? Really?




I looked back at the records - for the past couple of years, the average Social committee party expense has averaged less than $500 per event.

What I've gotten so far from this thread is that the Board can vote to limit the expenditures of a committee? That sounds reasonable. I don't have a problem with throwing a party. It's the "hurry up and spend the budget before the end of the year" thinking that bugs me in this context.

(Grinchy) Bill




Based on what you've posted, you are assuming that there's a "hurry up and spend the budget" thinking.

Has the social committee submitted any plans for the event? Have they said how much they want to spend? Have they said anything about the party AT ALL?

Not only did you assume they wanted to spend $3500, you seem to have assigned imaginary motives as well.
HenryS6
(Arizona)

Posts:111


11/15/2021 12:26 PM  
Posted By BillD16 on 11/15/2021 11:11 AM
Posted By KerryL1 on 11/15/2021 9:03 AM
Totally agree that the Soc. Comm. should make its request to the Board, Bill. As noted, you have no authority about how their budget is spent. but the Board does with its vote.

A really nice party can do a LOT to bring together folks in your community and encourage them to feel a sense of belonging & membership.

$500? Really?




I looked back at the records - for the past couple of years, the average Social committee party expense has averaged less than $500 per event.

What I've gotten so far from this thread is that the Board can vote to limit the expenditures of a committee? That sounds reasonable. I don't have a problem with throwing a party. It's the "hurry up and spend the budget before the end of the year" thinking that bugs me in this context.

(Grinchy) Bill




We don't have committees, but if we did, I would want the committee to propose to the board the proposed cost for each activity (as they come up) and the board approves the cost. The board doesn't just give the committee $5000 per the budget for the committee to spend at will.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:4284


11/15/2021 12:36 PM  
You're the treasurer - shouldn't YOU tell them how much is left in the budget? And since you haven't seen a budget, I don't know why you'd assume they want to spend the entire $3500. That might not make you a Grinch, but you sure jumped to conclusions.

Has the social committee provided budgets for previous events? If so, this shouldn't be any different. What's wrong with you requesting a budget from the committee chair (in front of your colleagues) and when it comes, the board can make a decision.

That said, if there are 600 homes in this community, you probably have a considerable number of residents. If everyone shows up, $3500 won't go very far anyway. I'd suggested the committee buy decorations and paper products for refreshments (provided by homeowners as a massive potluck). To make it cheaper, people can provide desserts of various types and other homeowners can show up with some canned goods, making it a combination community open house and charity drive for a local food bank.

BillD16
(Texas)

Posts:73


11/15/2021 2:03 PM  
Posted By HenryS6 on 11/15/2021 12:26 PM
Posted By BillD16 on 11/15/2021 11:11 AM
Posted By KerryL1 on 11/15/2021 9:03 AM
Totally agree that the Soc. Comm. should make its request to the Board, Bill. As noted, you have no authority about how their budget is spent. but the Board does with its vote.

A really nice party can do a LOT to bring together folks in your community and encourage them to feel a sense of belonging & membership.

$500? Really?




I looked back at the records - for the past couple of years, the average Social committee party expense has averaged less than $500 per event.

What I've gotten so far from this thread is that the Board can vote to limit the expenditures of a committee? That sounds reasonable. I don't have a problem with throwing a party. It's the "hurry up and spend the budget before the end of the year" thinking that bugs me in this context.

(Grinchy) Bill




We don't have committees, but if we did, I would want the committee to propose to the board the proposed cost for each activity (as they come up) and the board approves the cost. The board doesn't just give the committee $5000 per the budget for the committee to spend at will.




Thanks Henry. I'm not sure the other people on my Board would agree, but - yeah, that's pretty much what led to me posting here: the person proposing the party didn't provide an estimated cost except "they'd stay within budget"{1}, and it took repeated queries to finally get an actual estimated cost out of them (happened after I posted here). I'm happy to say their estimate was higher than I expected, but *not* the entire remainder of the budget.

{1} Since some of you mentioned it: my concern about them spending the entire budget remainder was largely based on how I couldn't get a straight answer to the question "how much do you want to spend on this?"

Bill
AugustinD


Posts:1905


11/15/2021 3:09 PM  
Bill, I think you are doing a good job communicating with the committee. I hope all agree the board has to approve the expense. I also hope you do not hesitate to say that the reserve funding is hurting, and you think it would be better to spend less on this party and put what the HOA can into reserves. Monitoring the health of reserves is a leading function of a HOA treasurer, AFAIC.
MichaelS56
(Minnesota)

Posts:300


11/16/2021 5:17 AM  
Our social committee does not have a budget. any social activity that is done is paid for by the people who attend.
BillD16
(Texas)

Posts:73


11/16/2021 8:52 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 11/15/2021 3:09 PM
Bill, I think you are doing a good job communicating with the committee. I hope all agree the board has to approve the expense. I also hope you do not hesitate to say that the reserve funding is hurting, and you think it would be better to spend less on this party and put what the HOA can into reserves. Monitoring the health of reserves is a leading function of a HOA treasurer, AFAIC.




Thank you, Augustin. I’m not certain that the other people on ‘my’ Board share your concern and mine for the health of the reserves.

Nonetheless, in my time on this Board, I’ve learned to aim high, but accept partial success as ‘success’. In this case: the estimated costs are higher than expected, but significantly less than the amount remaining in the budget. So I’m happy.

BTW, for those who wonder: this party will be held in the pool parking lot, on a weekend morning, with a Santa and maybe a bounce house. It occurred to me that some of y’all might be thinking black tie/open bar/string quartet/etc. Not the case here.

Some years ago I went to a Holiday party like that out in LA. It was at the top of an office building that was undergoing construction. The word “Swank” comes to mind. Biggest ‘shrimp’ I’ve ever seen! I had to leave early (along with a couple of shrimp) but the party made the news the next morning; something about unruly crashes who shut the whole thing down. Sad.

Bill
MarshallT
(New York)

Posts:179


11/17/2021 7:01 AM  
Hi Bill,

Maybe you could negotiate. Since we've all had a challenging couple of years, it would be nice to give the association something extra. However, if the normal spend is $500, then $3,500 would be more than excessive. Perhaps $1,000 would be sufficient? That way, you could still add something significant to the reserves and treat owners.
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