Historic City News received the following Guest Column which asks, “Could Pool Survey Letter Lead to Demise of Shores Service Corporation?”
Guest Column: Submitted by The Conquistador Advocates Newsletter
At Thursday January 8th’s Service Corporation Board of Director’s meeting an agenda item led to much debate as well as disclosure of a potential major violation of the St. Augustine Shores Deed Restrictions.
The controversial item was the recently mailed pool survey letter which stated that for an additional $1.50 monthly fee that Riverview Club pool membership could be open to all homeowners. The issues raised by homeowners in attendance were the following;
How did you arrive at this figure?
The question was raised because realistically, the only shortfall in funds required would be to cover what is predicted to be raised in pool fees under the existing method. This figure, as presented by the Board, is $25,000.00. This would amount to $.63 per homeowner a month. (based on 3315 current households in the Shores)
Homeowners tried to understand where the additional $.87 per month raised would be spent and no answer was furnished.
Why Wasn’t the Riverview Club building included in the Survey?
Most homeowners in attendance felt that the building should be utilized for the benefit of all and that since they are paying a large percentage of the costs for operations and management of the facilities that the survey should have reflected some mechanism for the use of all homeowners.
No answer was furnished.
Can Association Fees legally be raised?
This appeared to be the million dollar question of the evening. Questions were raised regarding language within the current Deed Restriction documents prohibiting raising Association Fees beyond a pre-established cap. (The Shores is comprised of 8 individual units each with its own deed restrictions and fee schedule) The Deed restrictions reflect caps between $14.00 and $20.00 per month.
Additional questions were raised regarding the fact that since fiscal year 2000 homeowners have been overcharged on their Association fees pursuant to their individual Unit documents and this proposed increase would only expand the problem. A few homeowners mentioned that an attorney had been consulted, on their behalf, and the opinion was that there was legal basis for this argument.
Members of the Board stated that if they were to go back to 2000 and refund the overcharged fees it could, in essence, bankrupt the Association and cost Association homeowners quite a bit of money in legal fees to defend this action.
Association President Jerry Zinn stated that the first 2 questions raised could be addressed in short order. Mr. Zinn also acknowledged that there are potential issues of legality regarding the present policy for collection of Association fees. He further stated that his administration should not be held responsible for an action that happened in 2000. Mr. Zinn mentioned that he would consult with his Board of Directors and attempt to schedule a series of open meetings in order to resolve the issues.
It is our opinion that even though this current Board has not created this dilemma they do have the obligation, once identified, to correct mistakes caused by past administrations. Increasing Association Fees for any purpose would show a direct defiance to existing governing documents and only serve to exacerbate existing problems.