Despite what the meteorologist on your nightly news might tell you, it’s actually pretty hard to predict the weather. And that means it’s difficult to anticipate how much you’ll be spending on snow removal this year.

That kind of unpredictability can wreak havoc on your budget. But not to worry – plow through these tips and your budget won’t leave you out in the cold.

1. Look at the costs you know.

Go to last year’s records and research how much you paid for snow removal. Not just overall , but take a look at your vendor’s cost per service visit. You can’t predict the frequency of visits, but you can anticipate the fees associated with a service call. Now, contact some local snow removal providers to obtain estimates ahead of time. That way you can see if there’s been an increase in service call fees.

2. Search for surplus.

If the frequency of snowfall is such that you’re spending more than you anticipated on snow removal, then look for budget surpluses from the prior year to offset these costs. You may find surpluses in the general operating fund, your working capital, or a deferred snow removal fund (if you have one).

3. Reallocate.

You may find positive variances in other expense categories that would enable you to reallocate those funds to snow removal. This may not completely cover your snow removal budget shortfall, but it can help ease an avalanche of budgetary bad news.

4. If all else fails, take further action.

Sometimes, surpluses and reallocations just won’t cover the deficit that a hard winter has created. If this is the case, you’ve got little choice except to issue a special assessment or amend the budget for the year. Remember that special assessments can be paid in installments over time. An amendment to the budget can enable you to make up the shortfall within a certain time period as well. No matter which avenue you choose, avoid carrying over the deficit into the next year. A good property management company can help guide your decision as well as help you plan and execute strategic actions.

5. Communicate.

It’s essential that you let community members know about the decision to issue a special assessment or amend the budget, and your reasons for making it. Time your news right: asking for more money due to winter weather when there’s still snow on the ground is much easier than making the request on a warm, sunny day.

Don’t get snowed by budget woes this winter. Remember these tips, and when the season changes you’ll be springing forward in good fiduciary health.
Wednesday December 17, 2014