| Filed under

The Rancho Murieta Association Finance Committee met in special session Thursday for an overview of the 2008 budget before it goes to a public budget workshop scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 10 at the RMA Building.

The committee saw the document for the first time last week, according to RMA General Manager David Stiffler.

The committee's recommendations included increasing legal expenses by $30,000 and eliminating a projected $16,000 increase in cable TV revenue for new digital services. If adopted, the committee's recommendations would take the budget from a zero monthly dues increase to an increase of less than 2 percent, Financial Manager Colleen Hagyard said at the meeting.

Stiffler has refused requests by RanchoMurieta.com for a copy of the preliminary budget to share with members in advance of the workshop.

After the committee meeting, Stiffler said the budget won't be made available to members until the workshop because it is "privileged information," adding, "We need to be fair to our board."

When asked why that is considered fair, Stiffler said, "Never mind," turned and walked away.


Wilbur Haines's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 474
Post rating: 470

Why all the secrecy?

"Stiffler has refused requests by RanchoMurieta.com for a copy of the preliminary budget to share with members in advance of the workshop. After the committee meeting, Stiffler said the budget won't be made available to members until the workshop because it is "privileged information," adding, "We need to be fair to our board." When asked why that is considered fair, Stiffler said, "Never mind," turned and walked away."

Why the unprecedented secrecy? The Budget Workshop is an open meeting. The proposed budget to be considered there has in the past been available in advance to the members to review and comment upon, once the Finance Committee takes its final pass at tuning it, as they did tonight. It's unthinkable that the proposed budget is suddenly now regarded "privileged" from review by the members. Will it be kept a secret from us at the Budget Workshop, too? It's over a dozen pages of very confusing and complicated numbers, not something you can absorb in a couple of minutes in the midst of a budget workshop. That's why it's distributed for review in advance. Except this year it's suddenly a big secret?

Last year members and directors reviewed and criticized the outlandish projections of premium cable revenues which were presented in the proposed budget, and the Board wisely chose not to rely upon those pie-in-the-sky numbers (otherwise we would have been hit with a whopper of a surprise emergency assessment to cover its huge shortfall from those wild revenue predictions).

Now this year the GM is attempting to keep the proposed budget under wraps? One can only assume this is being done to impede the members' opportunity to scrutinize and criticize the projections again. Yet those criticisms helped avert a disaster the last time around.

RMA has made significant improvements in the past decade toward openness of its affairs to member scrutiny. Baby steps, but steps in the right direction. This is a whopper of a step backwards.

I like Dave. I believe he is a good man trying very hard to cope with a very difficult and ill-conceived inherited plan which despite his efforts is blowing up in his face. But to try to hide things from the members is a very serious tactical mistake, and an affront to our rights to participate and monitor the financial affairs of OUR association which eats out of OUR pockets.

I urge that this decision be reconsidered and the proposed budget released to the members forthwith, so that we can become prepared and informed for the very important budget workshop where it will be decided how much more we are required to invest in supporting the cable experiment and other operations of RMA.

Blake Carmichael's picture
Joined: 07/30/2007
Posts: 278
Post rating: 434

whoa...

I don't recall a time over the last five years when the proposed budget was not made available to the residents prior to the budget work shop. In fact, discussion/analysis from "regular" residents can lead to positive change in spending/saving and the like.

 

Not only is there precedent for having the proposed budget available, it seems a bit sketchy that it is being withheld without any real justification.

 

Put the proposed budget out there for scrutiny, even if there is something to be afraid of. Actually, ESPECIALLY if there is something to be afraid of.

Mike Burnett's picture
Joined: 07/31/2007
Posts: 183
Post rating: 0

This Board is out of Control!!!

It is very clear what information can be discussed in Executive Session and what can't.  The fact that this information was discussed in Committee already has made the information public.  You can't have an Executive Committee session. 

Personnel matters, contract negotiations, law suits, are the type of issues reserved as "privileged" that can be confined to an Executive Session of the Board.  Committee meetings are open to the public and the Board or General Manager doesn't even get to make a decision on this issue.

These are grounds to call for the dismissal of the Board President and the General Manager.  They need to reverse this decision immediately.  Non Negotiable!

 

Michael F. Burnett

Bobbi Belton's picture
Joined: 07/30/2007
Posts: 275
Post rating: 442

RMA Budget

Having served several years on RMA's Finance Committee, I will concur that Blake, especially as a former Board member of the Association, has hit the nail on the head. The budget--reardless of how preliminary it is--should be released immediately. The budget has generally been a "working" document in July/August, but, after tweaking it, getting explanations from Department heads, etc., there was not and still should not be anything "secret." I have pled my case (and the case of those of you that have phoned me--wrong Board not withstanding!) to the RMA Board president, who assured me that nothing has been done wrong.

I respectfully request the right to disagree and urge the Board as a whole address this issue and the reported behavior of the GM.

Bobbi Belton

Your comments