Trimming the Bottom Line Cost-Cutting for Co-op and Condo Boards

With increasing costs for heating fuel, insurance, real estate taxes and the like taking a bite out of the operating budget of most every co-op and condo in the city, some cost saving measures can help stem the tide of rising costs. Payroll can be trimmed, taxes protested, and expenses monitored and with some effort, significant results can be achieved. Don't assume that there is nothing you can do about your board's expenses. The key to good management is to look at every single expense.

AKAM Associates Inc., a Manhattan-based management company, recently conducted a seminar in which management, insurance and security experts discussed a number of effective ways to trim a budget's bottom line.

Trimming the Fat

One area containing manageable expenses is a building's payroll budget, which can be trimmed by proper planning, according to Leslie Kaminoff, the chief executive officer of AKAM. Most union contracts provide for vacation budgets and replacement staff to fill in for vacationing employees, usually during the period between May 15th to September 15th, he says. A board is then permitted to hire outside help at 60 percent of an employee's wage to supplement vacationing staffers. Thus you can save 40 percent on salary of vacationing employees rather than getting in-house staff to fill in at time-and-a-half overtime cost, Kaminoff explains.

Many management companies when it comes to summertime gather a pool of people that they should be able to supply to your building to fill these gaps, he says.

Beware of Hidden Costs

Most boards believe that insurance premium costs and expenses such as worker's compensation are inflexible, says Kaminoff. Not so, he says. "Boards say this is a fixed expense and there's nothing I could do about it. Again, that's not the case."

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