Summer Fun in Tampa

With only a couple of weeks left before school begins again, we wanted to share some tips for summer fun so you can enjoy the last weeks of summer.  This edition takes us to Tampa where there are many options that are sure to please the entire family.

Tampa Summer Florida summers are always hot and this year has been no exception.  If you are trying to beat the heat, then Tampa is a great choice to find indoor entertainment.  Many theaters in the Tampa area and surrounding regions offer free or discounted movies.  Check with your local theater for times and options.  St. Petersburg even offers a “dive-in movie” which will allow the family to enjoy the water while watching a movie on an inflatable screen.  Also check with your local bowling alley.  Some AMF Lanes offer deals that allow kids to bowl for free!  This is another great indoor option for the family.

If you would like your children to participate in activities that are fun and educational, there are options to help your child stay sharp during the summer break.  Most county libraries offer summer reading programs.  Look up your local library to see what types of activities are available.  Most events have options for K-12 so there is fun for all ages.  Apple offers free summer day camp.  This includes workshops designed to inspire imagination and creativity all while learning new skills.  Maker Camp also has free options which allows kids to build many different types of objects.  Make sure to also check out the great museums available in the Tampa area such as MOSI, Glazer’s Children’s Museum, and Sunken Gardens which is the oldest living museum in St. Petersburg.

Many families want to plan one last extended trip before the school year begins.  Tampa has a lot of great activities available that will bring a smile to everyone’s face.  Check out Adventure Island, a 30-acre water park that offers thrills while helping beat the heat.  Busch Gardens is another exciting place that merges large roller coasters with animal viewing experiences.  The Florida Aquarium is a great place to visit.  Attendees can see all types of marine life in multiple aquatic environments.  Of course for many Floridians, summer time is synonymous with beach time.  The Tampa area has several beaches such as Treasure Island Beach, Madeira Beach, Sand Key Park, and of course popular Clearwater Beach.  Dip your toes in the water and enjoy the peacefulness of the ocean view.

Summer may be coming to an end soon, but there is still plenty of time to plan out some fun activities.  A trip to the Tampa area is sure to offer many options for entertainment that the whole family can enjoy and remember even once the temperatures start to (finally) dip.

 

 

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Staying Hydrated in Intense Heat

Every single part of your body needs water to work correctly. iStock_77913013_LARGE-500x333Water helps regulate body temperature, remove waste, and lubricate our joints.  You lose water faster when the weather is really hot, when you are physically active or when you are sick with a fever, diarrhea or vomiting. Remember that by the time you feel thirsty you actually are dehydrated and certain groups of people, including the elderly and young children, tend to dehydrate faster than others.

So given the current heat, here are some helpful tips on staying hydrated:

How Much Water Do You Need?

The old rule of drinking six to eight glasses of water a day is still a good recommendation. However, everyone has different needs. Some people may need more, while others can stay hydrated on less. The best way to know if you are getting enough water is to evaluate the color of your urine. The darker your urine, the more dehydrated you are. Aim for pale yellow to clear colored urine.

How Much of My Fluid Intake Should Be Water?

Water is the best option for staying hydrated. Other drinks can provide hydration, but can also add sugar, sodium and artificial ingredients. And alcohol actually dehydrates your body. Make water your main beverage throughout the day and limit other beverages.

Tips for Staying Hydrated

– Carry a bottle of water with you throughout the day. If water is within reach, you are more likely to drink it.

– If it’s flavor you crave, try adding fruits, cucumber or mint to your water.

– Put a fresh glass of water next to your bathroom sink each night before bed. It will serve as a reminder for you to hydrate first thing in the morning after going hours without fluids. That way you get water in before you reach for the coffee.

Source: UCF College of Medicine

Community Spotlight: Belle Vista on Lake Conway

This edition of Community Spotlight features Belle Vista on Lake Conway. This picturesque community consists of 102 homes and is located on beautiful Lake Conway in Orlando.  The association is in a great location, convenient to downtown Orlando, and many shops and restaurants.

Founded in 2007, this homeowner controlled community features a beautiful gated entrance, a large fountain, and two playgrounds which are favorite amenities within the association. Families enjoy taking their children to play there.

Leland CAM April Kaiser states that the gorgeous, well-maintained homes are one of her favorite things about the association. Leland began managing the association in December of 2012.  Since then, Leland and the board has worked together to make many improvements to the association.  Pot holes have been repaired throughout the road system, the entire irrigation system was mapped and upgraded, the exterior entrance walls were repainted, the pergola at the entrance has been pressure washed, Christmas decorations are now coordinated, and two fountains were changed out.  The board at Belle Vista is committed to making sure the neighborhood is beautiful and well taken care of for all residents.

In the future, the community will be adding a Virtual Gate Guard which will be a great security feature for the association. The landscaping layout around the pond is also on the agenda.  The board and Leland will continue to work diligently to ensure that all owners in Belle Vista have a great experience and can enjoy their home and community daily

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Preparing an Association Budget

An annual budget is the lifeblood of any financially healthy association. A properly crafted budget guides the association in financial decisions throughout the fiscal year and helps minimize unexpected costs. Generally, the membership of your community will recognize the budget as a way of determining assessment aBudgetmounts. While this is an integral part of the budget, it also provides for the continuity of community services, helps the community maintain its desired quality of life, plans for activities, and provides an opportunity for the community to balance its needs versus wants. Working in tandem with financial reports, the budget is a means of controlling the entirety of the community’s financial operations.

There are a lot of things an association should consider when preparing their budget, not the least of which is timing. Some associations have accounted for this question by designating a specific timeline for budget preparation in their documents. If your community does not have a designated timeframe, aim for early in the third quarter (usually early July) to start drafting your budget for the following year. Schedule a date for the budget meeting as soon as possible and notify the residents within the required time frame listed in the Florida statutes. Keep in mind the budget should be finalized with plenty of time left to send out the mailing to the membership and order coupon booklets for the community. It can be helpful to follow a reverse timeline when scheduling the different parts of preparation, starting with the date you want to finalize the budget and fill in dates working backwards.

The budget cannot simply annualize in many cases due to special projects that have either already occurred or will occur in the future. Utilize the most current year-to-date figures to make adjustments to the budget including: the general ledger, most recent income statement, reserve studies if applicable, and a current A/R (accounts receivable) report.

Like any budget you need to allot for income and expenses. First, consider your potential sources of income. The primary source of income for any community will be derived from assessments. There are very few restrictions on how assessment income can be applied and it is nontaxable. The frequency of assessments is generally set during development in the Association’s Declaration. Rental income from association owned units should be considered an additional source of income. Take caution when accounting for these funds due to the unreliable nature of rental units and keep in mind that these dollars are taxable. Interest on Operating and Reserve accounts as well as delinquent accounts can also be added to an association’s total income. Remember to look for other revenue sources that are contracted such as: cell tower, signage, and bulk services contracts; and non-contracted sources such as: clubhouse rentals, laundry machines, parking permits, etc. Always be conservative when budgeting non-contracted revenue sources. Finally, if your association is in need of another source of income you can turn to the prior year’s operating surplus as a last resort. This action requires full Board approval and the vote should be recorded in the budget meeting minutes.

After calculating your total income take a look at your expenses. The budgeted expenses are either an Operating or Reserve Expense. Operating Expenses cover your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly expenses. Restrictions are minimal in regards to the usage; the goal is to stay within your budgeted limit. Reserve Expenses are set aside for major capital expenditure repairs/replacements. The items that are being reserved for are required by Florida Law or the Association’s Declaration and are established by the Declarant/Developer or by a membership vote. Reserves are highly restricted and can only be used for their respective categories. For example, road reserve funds can only be used for roads. Any other use of those funds would require a membership vote. All of the association’s expenses are paid from reserve funds, therefore, the budgeted expenses should reflect the amount the Association is funding the reserves for that budget year.

Operating expenses can be broken down into two types: contracted and non-contracted expenses.

-Contracted Expenses: cover long-term contracts for either service or utility agreements. These are known expenses that will only change based on a renewal increase or change of scope to the current contract. Examples are Landscaping Contracts, Security Services, Professional Agreement for legal and CPA counsel, and Bulk Cable Agreements. Make sure to adjust for inflation; the current rate per year is 3.22%. Reach out to vendors to ask for next year’s rates or review the renewal clause to avoid unexpected adjustments to the final budget due to rate changes.

-Non-Contracted Expenses: cover general repairs and maintenance, administrative expenses, utilities, special projects, and everything that is not covered by contracts. The cost of these expenses are either known or unknown. “Known Expense” amounts can be determined by proposals from vendors or trend history. Examples are annual plant rotation or mulch replenishment. These known expenses will occur at some point during the budget year and generally have a marginal variance of over/under spending. “Unknown Expense” amounts can be calculated by estimations, vendor suggestions, and trend history. Examples of unknown expenses are irrigation and entry gate repairs. The goal is to minimize the margin of over spending on these items. Unknown Expense funds are only used as needed in the event something breaks or needs replacement.

The Operating Expenses are broken down into the following general categories required but by but not limited to the Florida statutes:

  • General Administration: Management Fee, Office Expenses, Insurance, Bad Debt, Professional Fees (Attorney/CPA), etc.
  • Grounds Maintenance: Landscape Contract, Irrigation Repairs, Landscape Replacement, Mulch, Tree Trimming, Lake / Pond / Fountain Maintenance, Minor Infrastructure Repairs, etc.
  • Repairs & Maintenance: Entry Gate Repairs, Pressure Washing, Fence Repairs, Signage Repairs, Electric Repairs, Perimeter Wall repairs, etc.
  • Recreational Area: Pool / Cabana Cleaning contracts, Pool Equipment Repairs, Pool Furniture Repairs, Cabana / Clubhouse Supplies and Repairs, Playgrounds Maintenance, etc.
  • Utilities: Electric, Water/Sewer, Phone/Internet, Cable, etc.

 

Reserve Expenses: While this is labeled an expense, consider it the amount the Association will fund the reserves for that budget year. Reserve funding can be determined by a reserve study or professional quotes. The goal is to determine the components or assets that the Association is responsible for maintaining. From there determine the remaining life and replacement cost for each component/asset. Knowing this information will allow you to calculate how much money is needed each year in order to ensure the Association will have adequate funds for the reserve items when the time for repairs/replacement occurs. Either a Component Method (aka Straight Line Method) or Pooled Reserve Method can be used to fund reserves pursuant to Florida law.

If you find the assessment amount will increase for the membership after the budget is finalized, first review your association documents to determine the maximum percentage allowed in a year. Consider the other sources of income that can be incorporated into the budget to reduce the assessment increase. Examples include rental income, interest, resale contributions, cable easement agreements, and prior year operating surplus. If the income is not guaranteed to be received (rental income/interest) you are running a risk of not having adequate funds for that budget year. This would result in a potential long-term cash flow issue. The prior year operating surplus should only be used as a last resort. The rule of thumb is to use this option only if the association operated at a surplus (more income than expenses) for three consecutive fiscal years.

Finally, make sure to monitor your budget each month to determine projected to actual operating results. Preparing an association budget can be a lengthy and sometimes difficult process; however, if done correctly will ensure your association is meeting their fiduciary responsibility and on the path to financial health.

 

Meet the Team: Angela Evans

Leland’s 2016 Rising Star award recipient, Angela Evans from the IT department, was born in Northern Florida and grew up with her parents and older sister. She remained in Northern Florida for the first few years of her life before spending some of her young Angela.jpgchildhood years in Maine and Oklahoma.  By the age of 8, Angela was back in Orange Park, Florida where she attended elementary, middle, and high school.  Angela recalls being a very gifted student as a child.  Her parents stressed the importance of education and it paid off.  Angela was also an avid book reader and particularly enjoyed fantasy novels.  While her parents discouraged video games when her and her sister were young as they wanted them to focus on their studies, Angela found entertainment in books.  She would follow her mom around on flea market trips with her head in a book rather than shopping.

In 2011, Angela headed to Gainesville to attend the University of Florida. Her dad did work as a computer programmer who programmed medical software.  This must have rubbed off a bit on Angela as she majored in computer science and engineering.  Angela continued to be a hard worker and a good student.  During her time at UF, she worked as a hostess and as a technology consultant in the campus computer labs to pay her way through college.  She independently paid for all of her tuition and books so she was able to graduate free of student loans.  While in college, Angela made some good friends and finally was able to play video games in her leisure time.  She was also a governing member of the college’s anime club.

While attending UF, Angela met her boyfriend Sean. Once she graduated in 2015, she moved with Sean to Winter Springs, FL where she currently resides with her childhood cat, Rosie.  In her free time, Angela enjoys playing tactical strategy video games such as Terraria & Ark: Survival Evolved and watching anime.  She also enjoys computer programming as a hobby which shows that her passion for technology is strong.  While she does not have as much time to read as she used to, Angela takes advantage of her longer commute by enjoying audiobooks.  Additionally, she has weekly chats via Skype with her sister who lives in Japan and teaches English.

In the future, Angela hopes to travel more. When she and Sean went to the Georgia mountains, they had a wonderful time and hope to experience more places.  Angela says that her favorite thing about working for Leland is the people.  She loves how friendly and welcoming people are.  Also, Angela was inspired during her interview that the IT director is a woman in what can sometimes be a male dominated field.  Angela loves working in IT because she feels she is good with computers and good at helping others understand them as well.  We appreciate Angela’s hard work and are proud to have her on the Leland team!

Benefits of Living in a Condo Association

When people are considering buying their first home or a new home, some may wonder ifBrown Residential Condo city Skyscraper With Dark Windows they should choose a single family home or a condo. While both have their advantages, condos can have a lot of attractive perks for many people.  When purchasing a condo, you will own the unit itself and have access to common areas and amenities within the community.  You typically can make any changes you like to the inside of the condominium (painting, flooring, room remodeling, etc.), but the exterior of the building falls under the association and cannot be altered by individuals.

One of the primary advantages of living in a condominium association is the fact that exterior maintenance is handled by the association. This means no mowing, no painting outside walls, no snow shoveling, and no roof maintenance to name a few things.  Many condominium owners enjoy not having to take care of these tasks which can become overwhelming in a single family home.  Additionally, most condominium associations have amenities such as community pools and fitness centers.  These are also maintained by the association and residents are free to enjoy them.  Condo associations vary from simple to luxurious so depending on your desires and budget you can likely find a community that includes recreational activities you would enjoy. Many condominium associations also have security of some kind whether it is an access gate or a security guard.  Additionally, there are always neighbors nearby in the case of an emergency.  This can provide a sense of relief for those who live alone.

Another benefit to condo living is that condos are often less expensive than single family homes. Down payments are usually lower, the overall price of the unit is typically lower, utility costs are often less in a condo, and property sales value can be driven upwards when the association makes improvements to the building or amenities.  While owners do have to pay condo association dues, the overall price may still be lower than a single family home in a comparable location.  Also, shared amenities can be a financial advantage since the cost is shared between all residents as opposed to a homeowner having to foot the bill to install a pool or create a home gym.

One of the other factors that condominium residents often praise is the sense of community in a condo association. Since condo owners live in close proximity to one another, there are often moments throughout the day that encourage socialization.  You will likely see a neighbor while taking out your trash, walking your pet, or picking up mail.  Some condo associations also have social events for residents.  Heading to the community pool also offers the opportunity to interact with your neighbors.  If you want to make a difference in your association, you can always run for a position on the board of directors or a committee.  This will help you get to know your neighbors and play an active role in the success of your community.

Purchasing a home is a big decision and many factors must be considered. It is definitely worth considering purchasing a condominium.  With over 25,000 condominium associations in the state of Florida, there is sure to be a community that is a perfect fit for you.