Van Cott: Sun City West is still at top of list

Posted 10/26/20

Sun City West remains a great value, contrary to recent complaints.

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Van Cott: Sun City West is still at top of list


Sun City West remains a great value, contrary to recent complaints.

The Recreation Centers of Sun City West — the association — was established to sell houses to retiring seniors. The objective was an unincorporated not-for-profit community that offered low costs through county services for police and road maintenance, volunteers providing other services — PRIDES, Posse, Helping Hands, PORA and the Foundation — local medical services and an active lifestyle for owner-members living on a fixed or modest income.

The community of Sun City West was not established as low-income housing. It is a retirement golfing community for those that can afford the outstanding value for housing with low annual owner-member dues in view of the value received. The senior override area provides lower property tax rates than adjacent communities.

Golf, bowling and recreation were initially conceived by the DEVCO bylaws as independent and self-supporting divisions. This created the misconception that golf could be self-supporting. Golf was not self-supporting and is not known to be elsewhere without revenue from social members, owner-member dues or municipal support. Golf fees were $335 and no daily fee for unlimited golf in 1980 — with developer subsidies — to sell houses. The current large Environmental Services Department — landscaping, golf course irrigation and wells — is larger than any golf course staff and was funded by the developer. Staff was to be paid much less than similar jobs in Phoenix. However, the growth of competing surrounding communities offering higher wages and more than doubling of the minimum wage by Arizona voters has negated that approach. Dues charged by the developer were insufficient to support recreation activities after elimination of subsidies. Reserve funds were not set aside for repair and replacement of assets.

Dues were an unrealistically low amount of $133 in 2000 and have grown through a few years of maximum increases to achieve sound financial footing of $497 in 2020.

Golf course maintenance expenses may be reduced but the golfers, residents and Governing Board do not want poorer course conditions like some other semi-public courses.

Ed Van Cott

Former RCSCW Governing Board Treasurer

Sun City West