Most associations have about ready to start creating the 2013 budget and as this article from the Chicago Tribune indicates budgeting isn’t just about increasing things across the board or refusing to increase assessments at all — it’s about a thoughtful process. The very first thing you board should consider is what are it’s goals for 2013. Ideally having a strategic plan that covers the next 3-5 years would aid in knowing your board’s goals. But even if you don’t have a strategic plan your board should take the time to ask “what are the 2 or 3 most importannt things we want to accomplish in 2013 and how do we do that?” If you can answer that question you can then get bids, contracts, supplies, etc., for the necessary items and include the costs in your budget to insure you are able to accomplish your goals. As stated in the Tribune article, most business partners that associations work with can give you estimates on fees for projects and even expected increases in regular fees for the coming year. Just call and ask!