As a financial professional who has served metropolitan New York's cooperative community for over 25 years, I must say that this is probably the most challenging time in recent history. Everywhere we turn, rapidly escalating costs coupled with increased regulatory requirements result in never-ending work for board members.
Consider the following:
The first crisis in recent years was September 11, 2001, which drove insurance prices out of sight. Unfortunately, for the most part, premiums have remained at unprecedented highs.
Then fuel prices started to rise. Many board members considered the spike to be isolated and temporary. But global events, coupled with the coldest weather we have had in many years, have actually increased fuel prices.
Here at home, in December 2004, the Service International Employees Union Local 32B/32J, the predominant union representing employees in the housing industry, raised health fund contributions by 25 percent. That equals more than $2,000 per employee on top of increases for other benefits. Nor were non-union buildings immune, as they too faced astronomical increases in health insurance for their workers.