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Posted on Dec 21st, 2009

First I hope all is well with you. Next I am going to answer some questions and misconceptions that you may have about the lighting. Third I take offense at the idea of being called scrooges!
The HOA dues which were raised last year were not related to Christmas lighting and I'm not sure how you can even make that connection. You and all the residents should be grateful that the new board faced with a shortfall in amounts going to reserves pushed strongly to not have the dues increase more. We were being pushed for a larger increase and because of the economy and other factors such as costs of certain items on our financials we felt that we would try to cut some costs which we felt were inappropriate. One of those costs was Christmas lighting at $10,000 in past years. We had nothing to do with the decision last year and in prior years since all this was decided before we were seated. The exorbitant expense was decided by a developer run board that was more interested in advertising than in reserves and what our responsibilities are to the homeowners. If only the prior developer run board showed as much interest in tree replacement and reserve set asides.
We once again this year elected not to raise the dues for two reasons. The first is that we just finished the disposal contract which is added on to the HOA dues and the second the economy again. Even though the disposal is something that everyone pays anyway unfortunately some people look at it as additional instead of replacing an expense which they already pay. We were aware of that mindset and considered that carefully. We are also aware that the economy is not perfect and that if we could avoid it we would put off any increase again so as to not make the situation worse for some people who are already strapped financially. Because of the number of outstanding dues from foreclosures and similar situations our cash flow is not exactly where we would like it to be. Our collections of most of this outstanding money will come in the future but is not here now. Since we are only funding our reserves to the tune of about 85% we still have a ways to go so that we are where we should be for the projected costs in the future.
As a board it is my feeling that our first responsibility to the homeowners is to make sure that the common areas are taken care of properly and that we have the money set aside in order to do that. Fence painting, landscaping, replacements and all the other things that are future items. The last thing that we want to do is have any sort of special assessment because we are short money in the future. As long as I'm on the board I will make sure that we never get into that situation.
With that said, we tried to come to some cost compromise which would do something for the community as a whole instead of just one particular neighborhood in CWR. By doing the entrance monuments more extensively we felt that this was something that was for everyone in the community. I could ask why didn't my street entrance get any decorations?? Why just the monument corners?? Don't we all pay the same dues?? Being a realist (and not a scrooge) I understand the complexity of making good and sound monetary decisions knowing that we are not going to make everyone happy all the time. We are making decisions based on what we perceive is in the best interest of the whole community knowing that down the road some, not all residents, will understand what our responsibilities are to them and hopefully thank us in the end (even though I doubt that would ever happen).
If the question was only $50 or $100 as you put it this would not be an issue. Were your residents aware that this has cost them $10,000 of their dues in the past?? I doubt it.
I truly hope that this helps put you concerns in perspective and as you know you are welcome to join us at any of our meetings if there is something on the agenda that you wish to address. We will always set aside time at the beginning of the meetings for our community representatives and others to talk about things that we are considering. Apologies for the name calling would be welcome!