GROUNDS THOUGHTS

There have been some concerns regarding the quality of services provided by the current Grounds Contractor, and I wanted to address those in a little detail. While there are certainly a few issues that can be a little annoying, overall, we are getting a TON of work for what we’re paying.

First, during the growing season this year the current contractor mowed all the common areas per the contract – including the walking trail. The trail alone is a little over a mile of mowing. While the hedges have been an issue to one degree or another all year, it must be noted that the previous contractor did not maintain them to a reasonable height, and did not trim them at all at the end of the year. This year, the current contractor did trim the hedges mid-year, but they grew faster than expected and needed trimming again within a few weeks. There is only provision for trimming the hedges twice a year, and for the second trimming, this contractor offered to radically trim them so that they would be easier to maintain and look better next spring. He did not charge any extra for this – and as you can see, this is taking a significant amount of time.

Regarding the cost of the overall Grounds Contact – here are some figures to consider:

Class A – the previous contractor – was paid $16,740.00/yr, or $1,396.00/mo. For that, they mowed the common areas, trimmed the hedges the first year (not the second), and spread fertilizer and seed in the fall and pre-emergent in the spring. They refused to remove the weeds from the hedges, and as a result, the vines and poison ivy growing in the hedges has been virtually impossible to get under control.

Last year Class A refused to bid on the Grounds contract, likely because the Board was paying close attention to the details of the contract. So 2 bids were received for the grounds work this year .

AMP Lawn Care submitted a bid for $41,000.00. That’s no typo – $41,000.00. That would include mowing the common areas (including the Walking trail), and maintaining the plating strip (Hedges, weeds, fertilizer, leaf removal)

Matt’s Lawn Care submitted a bid for $15,250.00. That bid included everything we asked for – mowing the common area including the Walking trail, trimming the hedges, mulch, weed removal, seed and fertilizer, pre-emergent, aeration, leaf removal, edging the sidewalk and blowing the grass out of the road. Obviously we selected Matt’s Lawn Care.

I’d like to break that down a little further just to illustrate what we are paying for the Grounds contract …

Matt has 2 guys that work for him in our neighborhood, and Matt is here with them when they work on our grounds. On average, his team has been spending about a day and a half per week working on our grounds. For a 3 man team, that’s about 36 man-hours per week, for estimating purposes, or 1,872 hours per year. That’s about $8.00 and hour. That does not include the cost of equipment, travel time, vehicle wear & tear, etc. So I really have no idea how he’s making any money on this job.

With these thoughts in mind, let’s take a fresh look at the grounds activities, and consider it from this perspective:

  • The current budget anticipates a grounds contract of $18,000.00 for 2018. That includes more mowing than this year, since the Hennington cul-de-sacs are now included. That is the amount that is included in the $295.00 assessment.
  • There are 226 houses, in the neighborhood contributing to the annual expenses. As such, every increase of $1,100.00 is a $5.00 increase in the assessment.
  • Splitting the difference between the high and low bids from last year would give us a likely grounds maintenance cost of around $28,000.00, or $10,000.00 more than we have budgeted.
  • We can certainly entertain the idea of looking for a different grounds contractor, however, doing so is likely to have an associated Special assessment of about 45$ this year, and then a higher annual assessment beginning in 2019. (+/-$340.00)

In any case, I think the more everyone talks about this type of thing the better – we all live here, all of our opinions count the same, and we need everyone’s input to be able to make the best decisions for the Community. Please continue to make comments on things in the neighborhood that concern you, nothing is out of line and we want to hear from you. Very soon we’ll be able to share these opinions with each other on our new community website. Keep contributing your ideas!!!

Wade