Blog

March 2020 News!

You can get your March 2020 news in so many ways!

If you want to watch (or re-watch!) specific items from the YouTube video, but don’t want to wade through all of them, look for the topic below and click the link to go direct to that topic in the video:

  1. Check your first quarter assessments – link
  2. Heatherbrae Entrance and the Landscape Revitalization Pilot Project – link
  3. Community Town Hall – Saturday March 21 at 11am at Roma Park – link
  4. Monthly Meeting Dates and Venue Changes – next meeting Thursday March 12 at Avondale City Hall – link
  5. Revisions to Policies: Collections, Violation & Fines – link
  6. Register for access at RioCrossing.org – link
  7. Changes to Architectural Request Review Process – changes to Design Review Committee meeting processes – link
  8. Can You Volunteer an Hour a Month? – link
  9. Holiday Decorations Should Be Down By Now – link
  10. Vehicle Parking on Lot and Bulk Trash Violations – link
  11. Maintenance of Home Exteriors – link
  12. Upcoming Social Events – link
  13. Tenant Registration Policy – link
  14. Tot Lot Sand Sifting – link
  15. Avondale Police Department Community Resource Program – visit by Officer Archer and Vice Mayor Pat Dennis – link

Weeds!!

I asked resident and landscape-savvy Dan to give us some advice on getting rid of the pesky weeds that never seem to go away.

— Ray

Do you have weeds now? Everyone has weeds! Right!? But what are weeds? Weeds are simply undesirable plants, and they come from all over the world. Common weeds are known to steal nutrients & water from desired plants, spread & outcompete desired plants, become physically dangerous, and/or have poisonous or toxic materials. For instance, a Desert Broom can overtake a Texas Sage and the rest of the other desired plants in the yard, until only Desert Broom is present. Ask any adult who grew up riding bikes in the valley about why preventing Goatheads (dry Puncturevine fruits) is worthwhile.

Here’s a few methods to consider:

Quick & Dirty Method:

  • Buy & use a broad-spectrum post-emergent herbicide like RoundUp, generally available at local big box stores like Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, & Ace Hardware.
  • Be very careful when using broad-spectrum post-emergent herbicides like RoundUp, as they can easily damage or kill desired plants after contact.

Generally, the best method is to apply or have applied a pre-emergent herbicide to your entire landscape, usually in the end of fall and beginning of spring. Then use or have used post-emergent for the weeds found between pre-emergent applications. This ideally minimizes the weeds while also minimizing the amount of money spent to control weeds.

Delegated Method:

  • Search online for and hire an appropriately-licensed contractor to determine and apply the ideal controls. Licensed contractors with the appropriate spray certifications from the Arizona Department of Agriculture for residential work. Great ways to find such contractors can be through sites like Yelp.com, Nextdoor.com, or Google. Useful search terms to try would include “weed control” &/or “Avondale, AZ”.

DIY Method:

  • Photograph the weed(s) as best as possible and show them to the representatives at a reputable pesticide store such as Arizona Spray Equipment. Ask what the plant is and what product and method should be used to control it. Like Sissoo trees, some weeds are particularly tough and may require reapplication over a series of cycles to effectively kill them.
  • Most importantly, no matter what product you are using, it is very important to read and follow the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). This tells you how to use the product safely and how to mix if it is a concentrate. If the mix ratio is not followed, the product may not work as desired.

Useful points to consider when selecting an herbicide to control weeds:

  • Be sure you know what you are treating for. There are two types of weeds, grass/palm (monocots) & broadleaf (dicots). Photos of the weeds can be taken to a pesticide store to identify the type of weed.
  • Herbicide products are made to either target all plants (broad-spectrum) or to target monocots or dicots specifically. Monocot or dicot targeted sprays are helpful if broadleaf weeds are growing in the grass or palm trees are growing through shrubs.
  • They are either made to kill existing plants (post-emergent) or stop seeds from becoming plants (pre-emergent).
  • They may be effective when applied onto to the plant (contact herbicide) or after having been absorbed thru the roots of the plant (systemic herbicide).
  • Air and soil temperatures often improve or reduce the results. Some herbicides are specifically designed for summer or winter temperatures.
  • Herbicides should be applied carefully so as to not accidentally affect desired plants.

Recommended sources for further reading can be found online at:

Town Hall – Landscape Revitalization Project

We previously announced a Town Hall meeting for 11am on March 21 at the Roma Park Ramada/picnic area. Due to COVID-19 concerns and to facilitate more participation, we’re moving this meeting to an electronic meeting… same time and date: Saturday March 21 at 11am.

Now you can participate from your computer or smart phone wherever you happen to be. I recommend starting the connection process 5-10 minutes ahead of time. Go to this page for details on how to join the meeting.

Meeting Date and Venue Changes!

The March regular board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 12, 2020 at 7pm at the Avondale Civic Center.

It’s hard to find a meeting location that is affordable, reasonably close by, available year-round, and with adequate facilities. The meeting location we’ve used for the past year significantly raised their rates once we changed management companies, and the accommodations were often noisy and accompanied by problems with building access. We met for a long time at nearby schools, but they’re closed (or difficult to get access to) in the summer and we often had problems getting the rooms unlocked.

So, starting with the March 2020 meeting, we’re going back to the Avondale Civic Center located at 11465 Civic Center Drive in Avondale, along Avondale Blvd just south of I-10. Their rooms are spacious, easy to set up, generally have overhead projectors and WiFi availability, good bathroom facilities, and a guard who ensures we have access and provides a level of facility security we don’t have at other venues.

Almost as hard as finding a place, is finding a date where all of the five board members are able to attend. People are busy! To help us maximize board participation, we might shake it up a bit and meet in different weeks of the month, but it’s shaping up that Thursdays are more available for most of us. That’s why you’ll see the March meeting is the second Thursday of the month.

See this page for more information about the meeting location and other details.

Change of Management Company

All members of the association should have received the notice from the new management company by now. If you have not, or if you need more information, please contact PDS (Planned Development Services) at 623-877-1396 for assistance.

Of particular importance is the change in mailing address and account number for your 2020 first quarter assessments, due January 1, 2020.

November Meetings

Two meetings this month. Read this announcement!

There will be a Special Board Meeting for the Rio Crossing Homeowner Association this Saturday, November 16 at 11am at the Ramada adjacent to Roma Avenue at Roma Park.

The topics are:

  • Appointments of board member replacements due to resignation
  • 2020 Budget discussion and approval
  • Landscape Goals discussion
  • Removal or change of sign along 123rd
  • Discussion about selection of community manager

Some of these topics were taken from the planned agenda for the Regular Board Meeting, in order to ensure that Wednesday’s meeting would be completable on time.

All homeowners are invited to attend.

The Regular Board Meeting for the month of November is scheduled for Wednesday November 20, 2019 at 7pm at the Palm Valley Community Center. Note this is being held on the third Wednesday of the month.

The draft agenda is available here. Note that some of the topics from this Regular Meeting are now scheduled for the Special Meeting noted above.

The regular monthly meeting of the Design Review Committee will meet at 6:30pm, just before the Regular Board Meeting.

What is a Reserve Study?

Watch our Reserve Study video on our YouTube channel!

The association recently received an updated Reserve Study. What it that, and why is it important to you?

First of all, there’s the Reserve Fund. That’s a special account set aside where the association puts money every month for certain maintenance activities on community common areas. The Reserve Study is the association’s complete go-to guide for everything related to that fund, the maintenance activities needed, and how much we should be putting into it each year.

The most recent document is available for you to view and download here.

We’re planning a series of brief videos to explain the general topics of Reserve Funds and Reserve Studies, and also on the details of our own Reserve Study and what it means to you, an owner in Rio Crossing. Our Reserve Study has a description of a lot of this, but it’s in somewhat technical terms, so we’re hoping that the video series will help everyone understand more visually.

But we encourage you to download the study from the link above and read through it. Particularly interesting is the complete list of association assets in the “Component Detail” section on pages 14-65 (the page numbers at the bottom of each page; it’s pages 29-80 in the Adobe Reader window).

Also interesting is the table of annual financial projections on page 4 (page 19 in the Adobe Reader). The Member Contribution column shows how much of members’ assessment dollars will go into the Reserve Fund each year. While it looks like a lot, it’s not as big as you think! Take the number in that column and divide it by 345 (that’s how many owners/members there are); that gives you the annual contribution per owner. Then divide that by 4, and that’s how much of each quarter’s assessment goes into the fund.

Here’s the breakdown for 2020: the full amount is $56,114. Divided by 345 gives you $162.65 per year per owner. Divide that by 4 and you see that only $40.66 of your quarterly assessment goes into the Reserve Fund.

Want to learn more about the Reserve Fund, or other parts of your association’s finances? Let me know what you want to know by filling out the Feedback Form here.

Winter Festival 2019

Last year’s Winter Festival was a big hit… so we’re doing it again this year! Here’s a message from our Social Committee chairperson Andres, who has been working very hard behind the scenes to get this fantastic event ready for you:

We are excited about this year’s Winter Festival taking place in Roma Park on Saturday, Nov 23rd. We’re planning on having about 4 tons of real snow delivered, Santa arriving by Fire truck, a Bounce House, a professional DJ playing music, several activities including games and arts & crafts. The best part of this event will be the 40+ local vendors and food trucks, several of which are offering free services such as face painting, massages and food samples, and others will be offering their goods for sale.

We’re very proud to be able to produce such an exciting and elaborate event. Normally, such an event would be too expensive for Rio Crossing to put on. It’s for this reason we’ve opened it up to other nearby communities – to increase the event’s subsidization and sponsorship. By opening up the Winter Festival to others, Rio Crossing is paying a fraction of what it would have cost if we kept it enclosed. That’s not the only reason though.

In addition to being able to provide these great benefits to our community at a significantly lower cost, we’re marketing Rio Crossing as the family-friendly community that it is, to the rest of the west valley thus improving it’s desirability and home sales in turn increasing our property values. Lastly, we’re helping promote local businesses. The vendors at the Winter Festival are locally run or owned by people like ourselves. All Rio Crossing residents have the opportunity to participate at no cost to them so we encourage you to come out, whether it’s as a vendor selling or promoting your small business or as a guest who’s enjoying the music, snow and shopping.

We hope this brief message answers any questions or concerns you may have. If you still have questions, we encourage you to please attend our next board meeting.

— Andres

Bulk Next Week!!

Okay… now you can start putting out your bulk items. Technically you’re supposed to wait til Sunday… but around here it’s okay to set them out a couple of days early. Not a couple of weeks — don’t be “that neighbor”!

The signs at the exits have been changed:

Load Images to see the sign!

A reminder that bulk week is the week of the second Monday of the month, which is Monday October 14. That makes “Bulk Week” October 14-18.

No Bulk Yet!

I know not everyone gets the email list, and not everyone reads the web site regularly, and not everyone gets our Facebook or Twitter feeds… but here’s another reminder just in case you haven’t heard:

It’s not bulk week this week!

Bulk week is the week of the second Monday of the month, which is Monday October 14. That makes “Bulk Week” October 14-18.

New signs went up at the entrances – or more accurately I suppose, the exits:

Load images to see the sign

Hopefully “those neighbors” you just thought about will see it too.

2019 Annual Meeting Summary

The Quick Version

A handout was available to all members present, with agenda for this meeting, minutes from the 2018 annual meeting, and financial data as of August 31, 2019 (including the balance sheet and the monthly budget comparison statement). [download a copy here]

There was not enough “eligible votes” represented to establish a quorum for the annual meeting, therefore no official association business could be conducted. An informal discussion took place among those attending, which included incumbent board members, one homeowner, two guests, and our community manager.

The incumbent board of directors will continue to serve.

The More-Detailed Version

Background

The Annual Member Meeting was scheduled for last Wednesday, September 25. Every year an election for the board of directors is held in conjunction with the annual meeting. A call for board candidates went out in August, and ballots were mailed to the then-current owners in early September.

Though our bylaws permit proxy voting, Arizona statutes now prohibit proxy voting, but allow absentee ballots. “What’s the difference between proxy and absentee?”, you might ask. With a proxy vote, you assign someone else the right to cast a ballot on your behalf; what often happens is that someone goes around and obtains a proxy to vote on behalf of many homeowners and then casts all the ballots for one person, giving the advantage of choice to the person with all the proxy votes. With an absentee ballot, you make your own choice on the ballot and send it in, but you do not have to be present for your ballot to count. This way, no one person can cast all the votes based on personal choice.

Arizona statutes also dictate that absentee ballots “count” when computing the quorum present for a meeting.

What’s a Quorum?

A quorum is the minimum number of members that must be present at a meeting in order to conduct official business. (Some people mistakenly think there is no meeting if there is no quorum. This isn’t true, according to most parliamentary procedures, like Robert’s Rules of Order. A meeting occurs when there is less than a quorum present, but only a limited number of actions can be taken by those who are attending.)

Our bylaws require 10% of the membership to be present for a quorum. With 345 homes in Rio Crossing, that amounts to 35 votes (rounding up to a “whole vote”). For this year’s meeting, the number of absentee ballots plus the number of members attending who had not voted was under 20.

Last year (September 2018) we had 46 members (mostly absentee ballots plus a few attendees).

Who Was Elected?

When there is no quorum, there is no election. The election is one of those items of business that can’t be done when there is no quorum.

“Then what happens?”, you might ask. There are a couple of possibilities:

  • One of the actions that can be taken without a quorum is a decision to reconvene the meeting at a later date, in the hopes that a quorum can be established then – either with additional absentee ballots, more attendees, or both. That is often referred to as an “adjourned meeting”. If a quorum is established at that adjourned meeting, the election (and any other association business) can proceed.
  • The members can adjourn the existing meeting without designating a future date for reconvening, and in this case, the incumbent board members (from the “current” term of office) continue as board members for the succeeding term.

In our case, only incumbent board members were on the ballot, so going to the effort of reconvening at a later date would not really have had a significant outcome other than just allowing the current board to continue. (There would have been one minor difference: one of the incumbent board members did not submit a candidate application for the upcoming year, and therefore if there were any write-ins, a write-in candidate could have been elected.)

If we were just a few members short of a quorum and could have made a quorum later by collecting just a few more ballots or with a couple more attendees, then we might have considered reconvening at a later date. But with barely half the number of required members and the fact that the pool of candidates was essentially the same as the incumbent board, the likelihood of having a quorum at a subsequent session was small and this option was not considered.

Bottom line: the incumbent board members will be retained on the board for the subsequent year.