Finance Committee puts community’s interests first

Editor’s note: This is the third in a recurring series highlighting the various Rancho Santa Fe Association committees that help run the community. This week we will look at the Finance Committee. 

RANCHO SANTA FE — The job of the Rancho Santa Fe Finance Committee members is to check their opinions and emotions at the door of their meetings and think only about what is best financially for the Covenant.

It is their job to gather facts and then let the Association board make the final decision.

“The Finance Committee is more black and white,” said Larry Spitcaufsky, treasurer on the Association board which automatically makes him chairman of Finance Committee. “You represent the whole community and try to decide what is best for the community.”

He said because the Association collects money from everyone in the Covenant it should be used in the best way possible.

“I feel if you look at the assessed value of all the real estate here it is about $5 billion,” he said. “How do those people who are living here enjoy the Ranch and enjoy the place where they live and when they leave will others maintain the value of everyone’s property?”

There are six members of the committee including Spitcaufsky and their duties are varied.

“We do the (annual) audit and budget and probably equally important is, for example, buying a piece of property or something as simple as a pickup truck,” he said.

For a pickup truck purchase, the staff will go out and get three bids.

“We will review the bids and if we think one is an appropriate price, we will bring it to the next Association meeting where they can approve it.”

The larger purchases are handled in much the same way.

“Let’s just say we are looking at a piece of land to buy for open space. There might be a few opinions about that, but we look at the appraisals, what other properties in the area have sold for. Things like that,” he said.

Then opinions aside whether it should or should not be purchased, the committee makes a recommendation to the Association board.

“The Osuna House, for instance, would come to our committee,” he said referring to the single-family home on the Osuna property that was put up for sale recently. “Our committee would come up with a price and make a decision on the process.”

Because there were so many realtors vying for the opportunity to sell it, the committee had to narrow down realtors and then bring the top contenders to the Association board for a final decision.

“We had to come up with a process about how to be fair and unbiased in picking a realtor,” he said.

And very recently, the Finance Committee had to consider additional funds for the restoration of the Osuna Adobe when workers found rotting wood in the door and window jambs.

The restoration of the adobe is an issue divided among the Association members, at least one calling it a “money pit” with others loving the idea and the remaining members somewhere in between.

“It is not our position to make a decision. It’s just to tell them (the board) the staff is telling us why they need to spend more,” he said.

It is up to the Association board to say yea or nay.

As for the annual budget, it goes to the Finance Committee first.

“We work on it with Steve Comstock (CFO),” he said. “We are the ones who dig down on the details and we will take it to the Association for approval.”

He said one of the things the Finance Committee is working on now is a way to give them more time to analyze the budget so they can make comparisons year to year and decide what the community can afford.

Spitcaufsky said after having been on the board and the Finance Committee he is amazed at how much the residents care about the community.

“I am amazed about the amount of time people who live here put into the Ranch,” he said.” The people on the board and from the community are doing great work.”

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