After four years in his position as the Sudden Valley Community Association’s General Manager, Mitch Waterman is ready for SVCA to move forward without him at the helm.
Waterman asked the SVCA’s Board of Directors Thursday night to decline to offer him a new contract. The Board convened Thursday for a special meeting to discuss the GM contract, and Waterman addressed the Board prior to the planned closed session.
Waterman is leaving the GM job because he feels he has accomplished exactly what the Association asked of him four years ago, and it is time to move to the next phase of successful operation of the Association.
Waterman was hired as a much needed change agent tasked to implement a cultural change to the entire organization. Quoting the 2014 Reserve Analyst, the SVCA was acting in a crisis-management basis in its decision-making. Run-till-fail was the norm, followed by the loudest voice in a dark ship or the biggest roar on social media, and a decision was made. It was agreed that this was not the way a Corporation should be operated. SVCA needed an accurate and repeatable processes, a solid financial and sound engineering principal-based decision processes that could best leverage our underfunded dues. SVCA needed the business to become an efficiently operable, manageable and viable organization. It is there today. Waterman feels that there is no reason for him to be in this role any longer, and feels that he has done exactly what was requested and what he was tasked to accomplish.
When Waterman took over as GM, the SVCA’s collections rate sat at 85 percent and the Association was owed more the $1 million in back dues. The Association’s relationships with Whatcom County, with local businesses and with Sudden Valley’s nine condominium Associations were essentially nonexistent. The Association owned 68 taxable lots that had been just sitting paying taxes for years. The start of 2015 saw five new building starts in the valley, security was disorganized, overall accounting practices were suspicious, Administrative employee skill sets were low and transient, staffing changed monthly, and the overall quality of work was shoddy.
On Jan. 1, 2015, when he stepped in as GM, Waterman had released the SVCA’s office staff and two-thirds of its Accounting department, setting his own standards and hiring people with the skills to match their jobs. This helped create standards and job expectations in the SVCA’s Administration. The Security Department was outsourced to a professional contractor, and both ACC staff were no longer with the SVCA. The role of new construction coordination was outsourced to a contractor and is now paid by builder’s fees.
Waterman and his Accounting team tackled the difficult task of completely fixing and reworking the Association’s 2014 finances, a process that took a full two years to finish. Now, the SVCA has a clean bill of health from its auditors with a spotless audit report.
Waterman hired a new Collections employee and emphasized helping residents to reconnect and build relationships with the SVCA over obtaining full collections. The collections position has done just that, and collections are now at 97 percent.
Waterman fostered relationships with the condo owners in the Association, providing them with snow-plowing, security and the ability to give input on SVCA events. The SVCA finds ways to save these owners money wherever possible. He was also able to bolster the Association’s relationship with the County.
In terms of building projects, the Association recorded only four building starts in 2015. Waterman helped grow that number to 30 starts in 2018 by helping the SVCA to become an advocate for the builders working within its borders. This also includes having developed a solid business relationship with County Planning offices. This was evidenced by the completion of a Memorandum of Agreement between the County and SVCA on Stormwater Management and Phosphorous Mitigation Plan. Dues income has increased dramatically. The Association converted to common (non-taxed), or sold all of its buildable lots which has significantly increased dues income and decreased costs, increasing home values.
Administratively, employee turn over is very low. Traffic to the Administrative office window has steadily climbed each year. Employees have received customer service training, interact positively with the community, and have an excellent service record with a stunningly low level of customer complaints. Each member of the Administrative staff is committed to improving Member relationships with the organization.
Facilities required most of the attention; the Clubhouse required a complete exterior refurbishment. The exterior decks were not connected to the building, the roof and building exterior was rotting. There were 5 different types of windows, and the entrances were ripped cloth covers. The gate 3 rotted bus shelter was replaced, and a bus shelter was installed at Gate 1. Both Marina shelters were rebuilt. The non-working security cameras were replaced with modern working security cameras.
Annual culvert design and construction has been consistently implemented as designed in the 2014 Master Plan which has steadily reduced our flooding and roads failure for the past four years.
In the past two years the Association’s financial performance delivered under the approved budget. Golf is currently $70,000 better than the same time last year.
SVCA now has a 10-year Capital Plan and a separate 10 years Roads Plan that includes scheduled culvert repairs, annual vegetation control, road repairs and replacements, parking lot repairs and improvements, and road installations where some roads were never finished (e.g. Spring Road, Midnight Court.).
Waterman’s skills were not designed to operate a successful organization. His skills are solidly suited to creating a new one, which has been done. It has become clear that the time is right for someone else to step in with the skills continue to operate under that groundwork that has been laid, and to continue the work fostering a thriving and living Community of which we can all be proud.