Water Assessment 2023
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Assessment 2023 Member Questions
Assessment 2023 Member Questions
1)  Why can’t we bill on usage? Then heavier users will pay their fair share? Why can't we have a metered system for water usage?  And an assessment would reflect a higher cost to the heavy users who put the most wear and tear on the equipment?  
*Response:  Several issues to deal with on this question. 
  • Our meters are at the end of their life expectancy.  They are read regularly to identify leaks which would have gone unnoticed otherwise.  The accuracy is extremely questionable. These would have to be replaced and improved before metered use would be feasible.
  • Our administration and bookkeeping software would required a complete rework.
  • This would also require a vote by all water share members.
  • And last, we need to implement the assessment to build our reserves to cover the primary equipment and well addition asap.  The assessment was announced at the annual meeting - as soon as the engineering reports and reserve study was completed and given the issues we face, these projects must be funded now.
  • From Meeting: Several questions and members would like to pursue this issue further.  I can ask a subcommittee of the water team to work on this in the new year.  Yes, meter replacement and installation would be an additional project to add to the project list and costs.  The current project list does not include this cost.  Please write to susiegibson@outlook.com to volunteer.
2)    Timeline of equipment replacement & which equipment will be replaced (eg, the Iron Magnesium filter/extractor)?  
*Response: The reserve study and timeline will be discussed at the Oct. 1 meeting.  Then, the presentation including this info will be accessible here.
3)  Can I make payments vs. pay an annual sum for the assessment? 
*Response:  Yes, you payments can be monthly or quarterly installments.
4)  Is the sale of water rights (to Cascadia Utility) is a completely different issue that requires a separate vote?
* Response:  Yes, two completely different issues and votes. This topic was only included as it is a possibility to recoup assessment monies.  Cascadia is a new UTILITY company  If a sale possibility moves forward there will be presentations and a lot of discussion and then a vote.  It would probably take more than a year as well.  So no worries about that for now.  We just need to fund the repairs that are needed to keep our water flowing.  FYI: As a utility company, a government utility board has regulations and oversight of the company.  This oversight includes a limit on rate hikes per year and approved justification for the hike.  
5) Before moving forward with the special assessment vote can SBOA look further into the option of the ‘Sale of the system to the Cascadia Water Utility Company’ or any of its competitors?*
*Response: We on the Board understand and agree (with Scott, our water chair and Davido Engineering) that the projects cannot wait.  The Cascadia rep also adamantly advised us to continue with our identified projects as the process to arrange the sale will take time (and a member vote).  The costs/assessment monies would be included in the price of the purchase to Cascadia in hopes of recouping the funds and returning/distributing the funds to our members, if the sale should occur.  There have been no other bonified utilities identified for water management on the Island to date and the Cascadia Utility is fairly new on the island.   We have been contacted by the Cascadia business office to move into discovery.  We have also identified and reached out to the attorney used by other recent sales to Cascadia from other Island Communities.  More detailed information and presentations from Cascadia to our members will be forthcoming IF this process moves ahead.  And lastly, we do have Whidbey Water on hand for emergencies and basic regulatory management in the interim. 
Note:  The Cascadia discussion is tabled until next year as the budget and assessment implementation is set for the remainder of the Board meeting this year.
6) Who votes for the assessment? What if we do not get enough votes?
*Response:   The Board contacted our attorney to be sure the bylaws and legalities are followed carefully and correctly.  We discovered (9/27/22) that a new regulation governing HOAs like ours was put into effect in 2018 which supersedes our bylaws.  Per the attorney clarification of this requlation, the assessment will move forward if the Board has done due diligence with a current reserve study, a meeting which has been announced within a 60 day window (not less than 14 days) and includes the assessment in the budgeting process -  unless more than 50% of the membership DISapproves/ Rejects the assessment.  We do have the current reserve study, the meeting and water assessment was announced in the fall newsletter (August 30).  A budget review meeting will be scheduled before January, when the budget goes into effect.  Again, no quorum is needed.  Votes were counted to insure that the membership was supportive in general.  58 members attended the live meeting on Oct. 1st by phone or Zoom.  All votes from the meeting were positive. Approx. 40 proxies were collected.  We received one negative vote.
7)  Is the sale of water rights (to Cascadia) is a completely different issue that requires a separate vote?
* Response:  Yes, two completely different issues and votes. This topic is only included as it is a possibility to recoup assessment monies.    If a sale possibility moves forward there will be presentations and a lot of discussion and then a vote.  It would probably take more than a year as well.  So no worries about that for now.  We just need to fund the repairs that are needed to keep our water flowing.  
8)  Can't we do a loan for the the expenditures?
*Response:  The Board members attended a seminar on the loan/grant process to obtain funding this past month.  The loans would have to be per project, require paid professional (minimum, engineering and attorney) and a great deal of management time to apply and provide the required information for the loans.  This would be cumbersome and expensive in themselves.  It is felt the assessments will insure we can move forward quickly, for less operational expense and eventually be less of a burden to the members over time with the end dates of the financing coming at 7 years.
From the meeting:2-3 people volunteered to look into loans further.  I will contact them to check their further interest.
Additional Questions from the meeting:
1) Can we move money from the boat ramp project (which is on hold) to the water reserves?
*Response: There are 2 separate reserve funds - one, water only and by law cannot be used for anything else.    The other community member reserves, maintained by all platted lots handles emergency maintenance and capital projects for the beach upkeep, ramp, beach road, tree falls, fencing around the wells, etc.
2) What constitutes a quorum for this meeting?
*Response:  See #6 above  Our bylaws are superseded by the new regulation.  No quorum is needed.
3) How many water rights do we have? Did the people without water buy lots knowing water not guaranteed? (yes, a few)
*Response:  SBOA is allocated 213 water shares by the state.  SBOA can then authorize use of the shares to the members based on our bylaws, policies and procedures duly implemented with the membership.  There are more than 400 platted lots within our community and close to 300 owners.  Some lots are not buildable due to septic system issues and therefore would not be able to use a water share.  The Board has been tasked with moving toward adding water shares for those who wish (and are able) to build homes on their lots in the future.  Members do not "own" the water shares - cannot sell them, only use their allocation of water based on the water shares.  There are grandfathered lots with water shares where no home has been built as yet. These owners still pay the flat water monthly fees as they have the water allocation available to them.  An owner can relinquish their water share (and stop paying the fees) so that some other member could have it.   Any new water shares that may be issued are allocated only to those awarded through a lottery process and are expected to have building plans within 1 year of the receiving the share or it reverts back to be offered to others per SBOA policies. 
Note:  water shares and water fees are completely separate from HOA member fees (some people call them Beach dues).  Membership fees are charged against original platted lots.  Many members own multiple platted lots and pay larger fees based on the number of lots.
4) What is the schedule of the projects to be completed? 
*Response: The tanks and pumps are first on the list.- Please see the presentation that is posted for the full projected schedule and costs.
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