How are Capital Improvements paid for?
Tahoe Donner was created over 40 years ago. Over time, infrastructure has aged and member preferences have changed, reflecting the demographics of a younger and more family-oriented membership. To counter the deterioration of aging infrastructure and reflect the values expressed in our Strategic Plan, Tahoe Donner created the Development Fund for capital improvements. Instead of funding capital improvements through special assessments, Tahoe Donner sets aside $250 of each member’s annual assessment in the Development Fund, which avoids financial surprises for members and provides sustainable financial support for capital improvements.
How is the Development Fund spent?
Ideas for improvement come from many sources.
- Members who use Tahoe Donner amenities provide feedback about deficiencies they see, such as the deterioration of the older locker rooms at Trout Creek.
- Staff documents “pinch-points,” such as the lack of sufficient parking during peak use periods.
- Members experience attractions at other locations and express their desire to see them at Tahoe Donner.
- Repair costs grow so large that a total replacement is more prudent. An example of this would be the Alder Creek Adventure Center replacing the Cross Country/Equestrian Center.
- Regulatory or technology changes provide an opportunity for cost savings such as the addition of solar power.
- All of these ideas are evaluated and balanced against the funds available in the Development Fund. Those ideas that provide the greatest benefit for members are prioritized in a list and presented to the board by staff and the member-volunteer General Plan Committee (GPC). Over the last 10 years, more than $16.4 million of major improvements have been made to Tahoe Donner assets by this process.
Why create a new Capital Projects Spending Process?
Over the last three months, the GPC and staff, assisted by members with specific expertise in capital planning, documented a new Capital Projects Spending Process (CPSP). The starting point of this documentation was the work plans that Tahoe Donner has used successfully for years. The end point is a structured, informed and transparent process for taking capital projects from idea to completion. This ensures comprehensive evaluation during project development, accountability for the investment of time and finances, and ongoing transparency for members and other stakeholders.
What is the new CPSP?
The CPSP is a “stage-gate” business process where the necessary tasks are grouped into stages that must be completed in order to trigger the next gate of funds needed to proceed. The GPC, staff and board of directors uses this method to provide clarity and accountability for all stakeholders.
The CPSP has six stages, which are shown in the infographic below this article or you may download it here:
- Idea generation
- Project selection
- Conceptual design
- Final design
- Post-project review
To reduce confusion, the CPSP also contains clear definitions of terms. When a member sees the word “estimate” or “quote” they will realize that the finalized and defined costs and schedules have not yet been determined. Those of us who have done home improvements know that the scope and costs of our projects change as we learn about challenges and opportunities. Only when we have the final design and scope in hand with hard quotations from vendors can we have a dependable budget of time and money.
What does the new CPSP do for me?
Tahoe Donner is currently redesigning its website. Included in the new website will be a way to easily track the progress of capital improvement projects. At the same time, other communications such as email, the Tahoe Donner News magazine, town hall meetings, and more will be used to inform members and other stakeholders.
In the meantime, the current website contains the Strategic Plan, the detailed Capital Projects Spending Process flowchart (at right), and soon the Land Management Plan will be added. All new projects will be evaluated to be consistent with these overarching visions.
The GPC is beginning the work on master plans for each amenity which will involve input and feedback from members. These will also provide guidance for project selection. For example, the Downhill Ski Area’s focus as “The Best Place to Begin” helped direct the installation of snowmaking to its Learning Center. Once the new master plans are completed, they will be available on the website.
Your participation in the capital projects spending and planning processes is essential in keeping Tahoe Donner the vibrant mountain community that we all love. If you’d like to volunteer to be involved on a GPC Task Force, please contact either Dwight Walker or Michael Sullivan at GPC@tahoedonner.com.
More information on Capital Projects can be found here.