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Community Spotlight: Palm Valley Itâ€™s Springtime! I Can Smell the Orange Blossoms... Newly Redesigned Website www.rossmar.com RossmarConnect Brings Innovation and Convenience to our Communities
The Spring Issue SPRING 2011
Wildlife in our Communities in the Springtime By Brian Alpert Community Association Manager
We get a large number of calls in the springtime concerning wildlife encounters. Many of our native creatures arise from their winter dormancy and bring their young into the world at this time of year. As a result, encounters with homeowners are more frequent and noticeable. Many of us who are not outdoorsmen are frightened or upset when this happens, but if we take a few precautions and understand some things about these denizens of the desert we can handle these matters with little difficulty. There are hundreds of species of wildlife in Arizona, so I will concentrate on those that seem to cause the greatest distress to homeowners. We must remember that we live in the Sonoran desert. This is the native habitat of these animals, so we should do our best to get along with them rather than try to confront and eliminate them.
Spring Community Maintenance Checklist By Sherri Youngblood Community Association Manager
3 Have all common area HVAC units or chiller systems in common area hallways, offices, guardhouses, clubhouses, etc. serviced 3 Schedule an annual roof inspection and have any necessary repairs completed prior to the monsoon season 3 Have all pool and spa equipment serviced â€“ check filters, gaskets, seals, etc. 3 Make sure all Maricopa County required safety equipment is in pool and spa areas 3 Trim plants such as lantana, bougainvillea, oleanders, sages, etc. to the ground to remove frost damage and promote new growth 3 Obtain palm tree trimming proposals so they can be trimmed beginning in late May to early August, once seed pods have developed 3 Trim most other species of trees in April, prior to spring growth and in preparation for monsoon season
Before discussing specific types of animals, some general observations are in order. Wild animals are attracted to sources of water, food, and shelter. They benefit us when they consume some of the creatures that bother us such as rats, mice, and other vermin. One of the communities I manage recently had bobcats prowling about for a few days. The community had had a problem with moles digging up lawns and rabbits eating vegetation, which was greatly alleviated by the bobcats sojourn in their neighborhood.
3 Obtain proposals for the restorative pruning of frost damaged trees
There are times when wild animals are detrimental to our communities. They can have dangerous confrontations with people and some look at our pet Continued on page 2
3 Make sure landscape professionals are adjusting watering rates with the change of the season. Special attention should be given to the watering rates of palms
3 Apply deep root fertilizer to queen palm trees 3 Apply pre-emergent to turf areas for weed control to ensure the summer (Bermuda) turf grass does not have to compete with weeds to re-establish healthy growth
R&G Quarterly Review
The SPRING ISSUE
Continued from page 1
cats and dogs as a source of food. The best way to keep unwanted wild animals away from our homes is to deny them what they seek. When they donâ€™t have what they need to survive they will move on. Mountain lions are the largest (about the size of a German Shepherd) and most dangerous cats in the desert. They are shy and elusive and prey on large animals such as deer and javelina, but will also eat rabbits and pets. They can also be a danger to humans. They will take up residence in areas under sheds or in storm drains, although they generally move through urban areas in search of prey. Whenever you see one that appears to stay in an area do not approach it directly; call the Arizona Game and Fish Department at (623) 236-7201 and they will remove the animal. Continued
Connecting with Rossmar & Graham www.rossmar.com A FirstService Residential Management Company Corporate Office 9362 East Raintree Drive Scottsdale, AZ 85260 Phone (480) 551-4300 Fax (480) 551-6000
Mesa Office 1801 South Extension Road Suite 124 Mesa, AZ 85210 Phone (480) 551-4300 Fax (480) 551-6000 Peoria Office 15396 North 83rd Avenue Building B, Suite 101 Peoria, AZ 85381 Phone (480) 551-4300 Fax (480) 551-6000
Tucson Office 2120 West Ina Road Suite 103-B Tucson, AZ 85741 Phone (520) 297-3031 Fax (520) 297-5315 Office Hours Monday - Friday 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Excluding Holidays After-Hours Emergency (602) 336-2700 Executive Team Jim Hanley President
We must remember that we live in the Sonoran desert. This is the native habitat of these animals, so we should do our best to get along with them rather than try to confront and eliminate them. Jason Proudfit Chief Financial Officer
Ken Estrada Director of Client Services
Rob Felix Senior Vice President Lifestyle & Master Planned Communities
Arianne Ahlvin Director of Business Development
Curtis Coghill Senior Vice President Northeast Valley Region Mike Kuzmin Vice President West Valley Region Kathy Van Hilsen Vice President Southeast Valley Region
Shannon Gant Director of Human Resources We hope you have enjoyed this issue of the Rossmar & Graham Quarterly Review. If you have feedback or suggestions for future issues, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Bobcats are tan with dark spots and weigh between 15 and 35 pounds. They can jump up to 12 feet in height. They primarily eat small mammals (unattended pets, mice, and rabbits) and birds. When one becomes attracted to an area that has food, water or shelter, others will come. They very rarely attack humans and so are not considered a serious threat to the community. Coyotes are the wily canines of the desert. They grow to about 20 to 30 pounds and subsist on fruits, vegetables and small mammals (rodents and pets), and will rummage through accessible garbage cans looking for food. They rarely attack humans and travel primarily as loners in the desert.
A Message From the President A lot of things happen in the spring, but most important to Arizona homeowners this year should be our state legislatureâ€™s presenting bills and passing some of those bills into law.
Rattlesnakes are frequently encountered in our area. They are cold blooded creatures that are most active between March and October. This time of year is a critical one for encounters with them because they come out of hibernation, which makes them hungry, and their young are out and about. We must be especially careful of young rattlesnakes because while they do not yet have rattles they are just as poisonous. When you see or hear a rattler back off slowly (they normally will not chase you, but will spook at sudden movements). They will usually move on, but if they seem to remain in an area call your local fire department, which is equipped to trap them.
While much attention has been given to the budget crisis and the economy, the HOA community has received the attention of our lawmakers. As our Senators and Representatives hear just a few negative stories, they attempt to write bills that will protect their constituents. However, due to either a lack of understanding or misinformation, their good intentions sometimes have unintended consequences. While the silent majority has no real reason to be down at the capitol, the loud minority is front and center painting an unpleasant picture of homeowners associations.
How do we lessen confrontations with these creatures? By denying them cover, food or water. Clear areas of heavy brush and fill any rodent holes in your community to deny them shelter. Do not leave out water or food for pets since they will also eat or drink it. Keep your dogs and cats indoors when unattended (the cat you let out at night may never return).
Rossmar & Graham and other management companies in the Valley have come together, and through our nonprofit trade groups Arizona Association of Community Managers (AACM) and Community Associations Institute (CAI) have become the voice of reason by helping legislators hear the other side of the story.
Do not leave out bird feeders in the community since some of these animals may eat the feed, and all will be attracted to the birds and rodents that eat from the feeder. Keep trash cans sealed when placed for pickup so Mr. Wily Coyote doesnâ€™t have a nice dinner on you.
Recently I sent you a letter outlining 20 plus pending bills, which I believe is a new high for pending bills involving HOAs. Rossmar & Graham is in the process of making you aware of any call to actions that you as homeowners might need to respond to. The impact of an individual homeowner directly contacting a representative is actually far greater than us doing so as your management company. Please notify your manager if you would like to receive call to action updates so that you can be part of our governmental process.
For additional information and assistance regarding wildlife, please call Arizona Game and Fish Department, or visit their website at www.azgfd.gov (which was used as a primary source for this article).
As always, thank you for your business and we look forward to continuing to serve you! Jim Hanley PCAM, CMCA, CAAM
R&G Quarterly Review
The SPRING ISSUE
Community Spotlight: Palm Valley By Evelyn Nelson President, Palm Valley Community Association
Spring comes early to the Arizona desert, and with it comes an array of challenges that must be met by the Palm Valley Community Association. We represent 1,297 homes that encircle the Palm Valley Golf Course in what is known as Palm Valley Phase I, the first set of planned residential parcels in Goodyear. The city of Goodyear was incorporated in 1985 and the earliest homes in our community were designed to draw executives from the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. Construction in Palm Valley Phase I began in the early 1990s but did not reach build-out until 2006. Thus, many of our homes are over 20 years old, with mature lawns, shrubs and trees, while others are relatively new, with xeriscape and granite gardens. Homeowners in Palm Valley Phase I have articulated a desire to live in well maintained neighborhoods, where homes are attractive and hold their best value. As a homeowners association we want to make sure we are responsive to our homeowners’ expectations. February is weed control time. If weeds were the only challenge, our manager could easily complete violation tours and send out citations. However, our neighborhoods present other interesting challenges. Our design guidelines state, “All landscaping shall be maintained in a neat and attractive condition. Minimum maintenance requirements include watering, mowing, edging, pruning, tree trimming, removal and replacement of dead or dying plants, removal of weeds and removal of trash.” We work closely with our Rossmar & Graham manager to set the expectation that the guidelines must be followed. However, what is considered appropriate “pruning” to one person may not mean the same thing to another. The board of directors continues to display creativity and tenacity in addressing these challenges. This month the board has invited the Residential Architecture Committee (ARC) to join in a work session focused on landscape compliance issues. Our CC&Rs were written nearly twenty years ago. The document gave oversight authority to the ARC for issues dealing with violations. The challenges inherent in our documents are met by the board and the ARC working collaboratively to address issues such as the interpretation of the word “pruning.” Our goal is to create a slide show that homeowners can view on our website which will allow them to gain knowledge of acceptable pruning practices. They say one picture is worth a thousand words. Thus, we have pictures of trees and shrubs from our own neighborhoods that are pruned appropriately, and other pictures that show neglected or inappropriately pruned trees and shrubs. It is our hope that this visual assistance will result in consistent and attractive pruning practices and make the violation tour process more clearly defined.
Our efforts are not limited to pruning. We are also taking on the visual challenge associated with other guideline statements, such as, “Plants and shrubs shall be sufficient in quantity and size as to provide a well-landscaped appearance,” “Grass will be kept in a well-manicured condition, and must be cut, edged, and trimmed at regular intervals, and defined by a border,” and “Street side yards and rear yards with view fences must be landscaped.” It is no surprise that one of our greatest challenges is the unsightly presence of deserted homes following the housing market collapse. Palm Valley Community Association has risen to the challenge of maintaining the reasonable appearance of these homes. Over two years ago the board commissioned a clean-up committee, known as the Ninja Gardeners, to clean the front yards of homes in foreclosure. Where yards have become overgrown or where plants and shrubs have died, a team of volunteers converge to rake, prune and haul away debris. If volunteers are not readily available the board of directors has authorized management to utilize a contracted landscape company to complete the job. We still know where our empty homes are, but they do not stand out in the same way the deserted homes did prior to the efforts of the Ninja Gardeners. Our 2011 goal setting activities began two months ago. It was no surprise when improving compliance with codes, covenants, and restrictions became an active discussion item. What was a surprise was the unanimous support given by the board to attend yet another meeting! Everyone knew they would have to put on their creative thinking caps in order to improve compliance with the CC&Rs. By exhibiting a “can do” attitude, we’re confident we can meet today’s challenges and any future challenges that may arise. As all homeowners association board members know, there is nothing more gratifying than driving down the streets of your neighborhood and seeing the results of your collaborative efforts as spring unfolds its beauty.
Spring Audit, Review or Compilation By Jason Proudfit Chief Financial Officer
“Has my board engaged a CPA yet?” If you’re an informed board member, this is a good question to be asking yourself this spring. Per the Arizona Revised Statutes, Section 33-1810, homeowners associations (anyone who falls under “The Planned Communities Act”) must have their financial statements examined annually by an independent accountant. Though not a statutory requirement, we strongly suggest and recommend the use of a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) to perform the required Audit, Review, or Compilation of the association’s annual financial statements. An Audit must be conducted by a CPA, and provides the greatest level of assurance because it includes the examination and testing of samples of the detailed accounting records. Typical procedures include confirmation of selected transactions with third parties (banks), tracing of transactions, review of legal documents, and testing of internal controls and procedures, among others. The purpose of an audit is to provide a reasonable basis for expressing an opinion regarding the financial statements taken as a whole. A Review provides less assurance than an audit because the process is somewhat less thorough, and also less costly. It generally involves interviews of management personnel, analytical reviews, internal control reviews, reviews of procedures, trend comparisons, and variance analysis.
Rossmar & Graham’s Client Advisory Board By Rob Felix Senior Vice President of Lifestyle and Master Planned Communities
As you may already be aware, Rossmar & Graham formed our new Client Advisory Board (CAB) in 2010. This group, which is comprised of 15 of our client community board members, serves for the express purpose of critiquing and providing feedback on upcoming Rossmar & Graham programs and projects. This will help ensure that the programs we roll out to our communities are well thought out and provide value to all our clients. Our initial CAB meeting was held in December 2010. The first meeting agenda item was a detailed review of Rossmar & Graham’s proposed revised client financial reporting package, with feedback and recommendations sent directly to our chief financial officer and director of client accounting.
A Compilation is simply the organization of the association’s financials into a format that presents the information in an acceptable fashion. Generally, year end closing entries are made and all necessary adjustments are done to close the books. No auditing is done, nor are other review procedures completed. This is the lowest level of assurance and the most economical. It’s important to check your community’s governing documents, because many require that an annual audit be completed. If no mandate is made, the community may select any of the three services. Generally, it is a good idea to have an audit done every three to four years to ensure that processes, procedures, internal controls, and financial statements are being prepared in accordance with accounting standards. In Arizona, the Audit, Review or Compilation is required to be completed no later than 180 days after the end of the association’s fiscal year and shall be made available upon request to the members within 30 days after its completion. With most associations on a calendar year end, that would be a June 30 deadline for completion. Sometimes associations forget about or ignore this statutory requirement, but the independent review is important, as it protects both the board and the association by providing an additional review and examination of their financial statements. So if you have not yet hired a CPA to do your Audit, Review or Compilation, it’s not too late … let us engage one for you today.
Rossmar & Graham worked on this project for some time, with initial reviews being completed by our staff and department heads. The valuable review of this important product by the CAB will set the tone for future CAB agenda items. Their observations and recommendations exceeded our expectations, and most if not all of their suggestions and recommendations are being implemented. We owe a great deal of gratitude to our valued CAB members who participated: • Carolyn Woods • Bill Fuchs • Chris Lang • Claudia Garza • Jacqueline Gatewood • Bill Fautsch • Jeff Bronaugh • Jim Irwin
• Kevin Chiariello • Lee Dolce • Matt Metz • Kelly Gorman • Robin Donnelly • Sandee Scott • Wayne Hoover
R&G Quarterly Review
The SPRING ISSUE
It’s Springtime! I Can Smell the Orange Blossoms… By Mike Jensen President, Landmark Land Management
Turf Spring is the time to wake up your Bermuda lawn. Beginning in late March, if you overseeded with winter grass, start lowering your mowing height by half an inch each time you mow. Lower the height gradually until you reach a height of approximately half an inch. Try not to remove more than one-third of the grass leaf per mowing as you work down to this height. The goal is to help the Bermuda get its share of sunlight, nutrients and water so it can successfully compete with the rye grass until the rye is gone. Keep the mower at the lowered setting until the transition is complete and only Bermuda is growing. Generally, Bermuda grass resumes its growth when the nighttime temperature is 60 degrees F or higher for five nights in a row. The rye overseed will start to die off at the beginning of May and should be completely gone by mid-June. Continue a normal watering schedule throughout the transition period. Do not withhold water in an attempt to kill off the rye as this could damage the underlying Bermuda when it is coming out of dormancy. Also, do not verticut or scalp the rye grass to force it out during transition. This will only make the lawn look bad, and you will still have to mow the rye grass. If you did not overseed for the winter, you will still need to nurture your Bermuda out of dormancy. Begin applying fertilizer when nighttime temperatures reach 60 degrees F or higher for five nights in a row.
Weed Control Spring is also an ideal time to apply pre-emergent weed control for summer dicots, monocots, broadleaf weeds and grasses. The use of pre-emergent herbicides in February and March is very effective for controlling weeds before the plants begin to grow from seed. Sunlight and microorganisms can breakdown the herbicide and reduce effectiveness. Effective pre-emergent application prevents germination of most
weeds and will help ensure a more successful weed control program.
Frost Damaged Shrubs In early March, once the danger of frost has passed, you can cut back any winter damaged plants. By waiting until spring to do your cut backs, you may see that some of the limbs or stems that you thought were frost damaged will actually have new growth appearing on them. Waiting for the new growth to appear is the best way to know where the new growth ends and where you should make the cut to eliminate the frost damage.
New Plantings Spring is a perfect time to plant new shrubs and trees and is the time when you will find the best selection of plants and trees at your local garden centers. A vegetable garden is a great way to enjoy your back yard and get a little exercise. “Square Foot Gardening” makes it simple to grow some of your own vegetables and herbs in a small place.
Irrigation System Irrigation systems need regular system checks to maintain their efficiency and performance. Monthly checks of sprinklers and drip systems should be done. As seasons change, so does the amount of water needed for plants, trees and turf. Keep in mind that the irrigation system should deliver enough water to maintain healthy plants, and no more. Many landscapers and homeowners tend to overwater their yards. Use a screwdriver to test your yard. If the screwdriver goes in easily to approximately 6 feet, there is plenty of moisture in the soil. If not, you need to give your plant material more water.
Preparing for the Departure of the Snowbirds By Stew Feldstein Community Association Manager and Brian Alpert Community Association Manager
Visit Rossmar & Graham’s Newly Redesigned Website www.rossmar.com You may have noticed that our website has a new look! We have finished the last phase of our website redesign and are excited to share some of our new sections with you:
Spring is here, and it’s time to prepare for the departure of the snowbirds who will soon be leaving the desert for cooler climates. Boards should obtain summer residence contact information from these homeowners and encourage them to leave a key with someone in the area in case their home needs to be entered in their absence due to an emergency. Severe damage can occur when a homeowner is out of town and no one has access to the property. If a home is flooded due to a broken pipe, the delay created by not having immediate access to the home can be catastrophic. Many homeowners, especially in condominiums, don’t realize that neither the board nor their manager has a key to their unit, and that they aren’t authorized to enter their unit unless the homeowner cannot be reached and it is necessary to stop damage from progressing. This necessitates taking the time and incurring the expense of hiring a locksmith and having the lock broken. Water in a driveway may be an indication that a water heater or a pipe has broken and needs prompt attention, and water coming through the ceiling of a ground floor condominium may indicate that there is a problem in the unit above. Open front doors or broken windows are indications that a burglary may have occurred. Your community manager will be on the lookout for these things so that they will be able to act promptly to mitigate any damage. Having contact information on hand for all unit owners will ensure that there will not be critical delays in attending to issues when homeowners are out of town.
Newsletters www.rossmar.com/our-company/newsletters Archived versions of the Rossmar & Graham Quarterly Review.
Philanthropy www.rossmar.com/our-company/philanthropy What Rossmar & Graham is doing to give back to the greater community.
Why Rossmar? www.rossmar.com/why-rossmar What sets us apart from other HOA management firms, from our innovative RossmarConnect software, to the education and training we provide to our managers, to our community pride programs.
HOA Seminars www.rossmar.com/homeowners/hoa-seminars A list of the HOA seminar topics Rossmar & Graham’s executives speak on throughout the Valley. Be sure to check out our HOA Seminar Calendar in this section for information on upcoming seminars.
HOA Resource Center www.rossmar.com/homeowners/hoa-resource-center A place board members and homeowners can find helpful HOA information.
Pay Online www.rossmar.com/pay-online Our convenient feature that allows you to pay your assessments online. Make sure to also connect with Rossmar & Graham on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube!
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R&G Quarterly Review
The SPRING ISSUE
RossmarConnect Brings Innovation and Convenience to our Communities
By Thressa Wadley Administrative Assistant
In 2005, Rossmar & Graham introduced our proprietary homeowners association management software, RossmarConnect, an innovative, web-based tool that provides homeowners and board members with 24/7 access to association data. Rossmar & Graham-managed communities enjoy the benefits of our forward-thinking approach to technology. RossmarConnectâ€™s features include:
Interactive Community Website
Associations signed up for RossmarConnect receive an interactive community website, which gives homeowners the ability to view account balances and payment history, request work orders, and direct inquiries to their community manager. Information ranging from governing documents to event announcements is available at all times. Board members have full access to all information concerning their community, including financials, call center reports and architectural requests.
With one phone call, your community manager can alert the entire community, or a specific quadrant of the community, of an emergency situation or communicate important information to them. Perhaps the community association wants to notify homeowners of a board meeting, or remind them to send in their ballots for an upcoming election, or tell them the water is being turned off by the city ... the list of applications is endless.
Mass Communication Email
With one email, your community manager can send a message to the entire community, or a specific quadrant of the community, alerting them to important information which
may affect them. They can also include attachments, which can help save the community valuable association dollars.
Using an iPhone, violation letters and work orders are created when our community association managers tour the community - at the time the violation and/or issue is noted. The violation letter/work order includes an embedded color photo and is tracked and archived through a simple web control panel so that the board and association manager can view the status of every violation (including comments when residents call to inquire) and/or work order. In addition, our community managers can check the status of architectural requests during their tours. As a board member, you are tasked with continually finding ways to help your association operate more efficiently and cost effectively. RossmarConnect allows you to do this. If your community is not currently utilizing RossmarConnect and you are interested in this technology, contact your community association manager to schedule a demonstration.