FY19 General Manager Annual Letter
Happy almost Spring! Welcome to Aquia Harbour FY19. This year’s budget begins April 1st and reflects a $5-a-month increase. I know. It’s a lot, especially when everyone is dealing with these ridiculous winter electric bills. I assure you it was absolutely necessary to address two primary issues: Our roads and a much-needed technology upgrade. After accepting this job last year and spending a year evaluating our situation, I wouldn’t be serving your needs if I ignored these two areas.
Even with the increase we are still the most affordable gated community in a 30-mile radius, most of whom don’t have half our amenities, few who have our coveted location right next to I95 and none who have our charm. Still… I know the question I would ask if someone were bumping my monthly obligation… How does my life get better for my $5 a month? Fair enough. Here are some of the enhancements you will see this year;
Roads – Our roads were judged to be in more than 50% pavement failure by two consultants and our inhouse crew. Twenty years of “not enough money to do all the roads that needed to be done”. The good news is that past Boards were good savers and they put away enough to take a huge bite out of this project. What was left was from a 3.6 million-dollar 5-year correction plan was $100,000 a year in additional funds that would be needed to pull us out of pavement failure and secure the next 20-year pavement plan. Roads will be paved, dura-patched, crack-filled and rejuvenated every year through FY22 and then the 20-year plan will go into effect with roads being addressed every other year. Properly addressing our roads impacts safety, neighborhood aesthetics and home values.
Technology – In 2018 it is not unreasonable that you be able to manage your account and pay your dues online and in a few short weeks you will be able to do just that. You will also be able to charge services to your account. For instance, you can charge your annual pool membership AT the pool. You can charge for your guests AT the pool. By showing your hard or electronic membership card or proof of address the charge will be added to your account and you’ll get a monthly email statement. You will also have an account for your dues that you can pay annually, quarterly and we’re working on monthly since that’s easier to budget. You can also reserve the Harbour Inn, a park, a pavilion or the conference room online and download forms. All of this will be done through the new website which will open endless possibilities for constructive communication and allow you to take advantage of all Aquia Harbour has to offer you and your family.
Business Office – The new technology means you’ll be spending less time having to come to the office to do Association business so we have cut one full time staff position. We will also be adding a handicapped door for our older and disabled residents. Its been on the “please address” list since this new building was opened in 2015. We’ve been in training for the new software for the last week and the next 60 days while we implement will be challenging, as all new systems are, so your patience is appreciated.
RFID – The front and back gate were funded last year. We did a distribution of 9,000 decals at no charge to launch the program but replacements are now $10 each. These decals cost more than our old ones but they last 6-8 years which saves you from the annual grind of decal replacement and will save us money in the long run and we can turn the decals on and off with the push of a button. The BACK GATE was upgraded for two reasons: to get fire and rescue in here faster and to allow us to open the back gate (next to 3242 Titanic) remotely in an emergency. Mission accomplished. Allow residents having access to the “back way” is just icing if we can pull it off. VDOT will making that decision after our temporary permit expires at the end of February and I’ll keep you in the loop and let you know if I need your help.
The FRONT GATE has been more challenging but the delay has actually worked in our favor. The 2nd incoming lane on Washington Drive was supposed to have been finished last year but the Town Center Development delay also delayed the lane and the RFID project NEEDS that lane for our electronic decal to work according to plan. The AHPOA Board of Directors have taken the reigns on the 2nd lane and construction should begin this spring. The project is already funded.
Pools – We’ll be welcoming a new pool manager this year and some new guidelines and equipment are being discussed; more chairs, the addition of two more super umbrellas, a pilot program of allowing food and small coolers on the pool deck; guests $3 each rather than easy to lose, expensive and unused punch cards and a professional vendor to rent the snack bar space at HI Pool. We’ll also have decisive measurements for pool floats and we’re trying to facilitate adult morning lap swim every day from 5am-9am at the Harbour Inn Pool. The cost of pool membership remains $145 for families, $135 for swim team and $100 for individuals. Guests will be limited on holidays.
Reserve and Capital Projects – This money is already in our substantial savings account to maintain and/or replace what needs replacing. Each of these items will be evaluated by the Board as they are brought by the GM. Some of what may be replaced this year: Peace Park – the playground next to the business office including adding a safety fence to the park, a possible upgrade of the marina and pool bathrooms and replacement of the windows and doors at the Harbour inn.
Community Fun – We’ll be continuing with a wide variety of summer camps for kids including equestrian camps, Girl Smartz, soccer, junior golf, soccer golf as well as sunset kayak tours, ice cream socials, dancing, yoga and exercise options at the Harbour Inn, Octoberfest, July 4th, National Night Out Against Crime Party (funded by AHRS), Christmas Tree Lighting/Carols and many other activities that make living in Aquia Harbour a very special experience.
Your $5 a month will be used to make your family safer, to make memories for your children, to preserve HOA property and assets and to increase your property values. It’s going to be a great year for our community. If you’d like to get involved please contact us at aquiaharbour.org and we’ll fit you to the right committee or project. Want to add to the Aquia Harbour experience? I’d love to hear your ideas at email@example.com or come by and see me at the office. I’m generally here late on Tuesdays and Fridays so I can meet with folks.
When you are fortunate enough to wake up in Aquia Harbour, you’re already having a good day and your Aquia Harbour staff will do all we can to build on that every day. We thank you for your support and trust and we look forward to serving you this year and not just meeting your expectations but exceeding them whenever we can.
Patricia Harman, AHGM
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Feb. 28 - Regular board meeting at 7 p.m. at the Country Club.