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Cash Flow Method

Sometimes also referred to as the "Pooled Method".

A method of calculating the funding model where contributions to the reserve fund are designed to offset the variable annual expenditures from the reserve fund. 

Different reserve funding plans are tested against the anticipated schedule of reserve expenses until the desired funding goal is achieved. 

The individual line item contributions are computed after the total contribution rate has been established. 

Some of the advantages of this method:
Some of the disadvantages of this method:
  • Requires complex calculations; mathematically intensive.
  • May result in significant lumpy funding cycles
  • May impart a level of accuracy that is not necessary for some simpler and younger buildings
Pooling and non-pooling budget concepts are often misunderstood and misinterpreted. CPAs usually refer to “Straight Line” versus “Cash Flow” models instead.

This is simply the way an association is holding the reserves and more accurately these are two different accounting methods, which can have advantages and disadvantages.

When you are considering options you should consider what best applies to your association. A CPA who specializes in condo and HOA law should ultimately decide.

Straight-Line or Non-Pooling:

The “straight line” method assigns a funding goal to each component in the reserve budget without regard to the accumulation of funds for other components. It’s like having an individual reserve “account” for each component — roofs, paint, asphalt, etc. The balance in one component “account” cannot be used for another component. The cash in each of these separate “accounts” is compared to the funding requirements of the component the account is for when determining the adequacy of the association’s funding.

For example, when reserves are funded with the straight-line method, the law provides that reserve funds can only be used for their intended purposes. For example, money could not be taken out of the roof reserve account to pay for painting the building.

Cash Flow or Pooling:

The “cash flow” method focuses instead on the total cash available to address pending replacements needs of all components. The cash flow method creates an acceptable cash flow for all anticipated expenses for many years to come (usually at least 30 years) and to annually fund enough money in reserves to cover all the annual expenses no matter in what year they occur.

With pooled reserves it is still necessary to determine for each component the needed reserve amount, the remaining useful life and the estimated replacement cost.

The main difference is that instead of having single “accounts” for each component, the reserves are pooled. With this accounting method, there is no vote of the unit owners required to use funds from one component to cover expenditures of another component, whereas in the straight-line method this vote is required.

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