The architectural committee of the HOA is enforcing recently revised rules and regulations. Meanwhile, the board recently authorized further study of municipal and tax district alternatives.
by Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
For more than a year, Spring Creek Association has been exploring HOA alternatives that would shift maintenance and public services to a municipal government or tax district. Back in April of 2017, the Incorporation Committee received a report from Hansford Consulting, and then conducted a workshop with board members to discuss 5 options. In June, the Association conducted a meeting to discuss the consultant’s study.
A news release proclaimed that homeowners and board members were leaning toward keeping the HOA status quo.
At the time, I posted analysis of the Hansford Consulting study. Specifically, I observed that all 5 options studied by the consultant were based on the assumption that the HOA would remain intact. Only one of the options considered – becoming an unincorporated town – would convert the HOA to a Voluntary membership organization, but the HOA would still have limited power to enforce deed restrictions. (See Apples and Oranges HOA alternatives comparison).
The Hansford study seems to lead board members to the conclusion that keeping the HOA “as is” would be the most economical option. All other options would result in property owners paying a government entity plus the HOA.
I opined that the study could have considered the option of dissolving the HOA entirely. After all, deed restrictions and the HOA date back to 1971, and Spring Creek is a much different place than it was 47 years ago. And, according to recent statements made by a board member (see below), most owners would prefer to see the HOA disappear.
As long as public services are provided, and costs covered through either a municipality or special district, mandatory membership in the HOA would no longer be necessary. And a voluntary HOA need not be obligated to enforce covenants – indeed, their power to do so would be very limited. Even without an HOA and a Committee of Architecture, Spring Creek homeowners could individually opt to enforce existing restrictions in the appropriate court, rather than providing an HOA with unilateral power to decide if and when it would seek to enforce rules and regulations.
In the meantime, two new reports have surfaced. In April, Spring Creek Association Committee of Architecture released its 11-page Revised Rules and Regulations, and then promptly announced in Elko Daily its intent to crack down on violators.
Architecture committee to start Spring Creek property reviews
TONI R. MILANO firstname.lastname@example.org Aug 19, 2017 1
SPRING CREEK – Spring Creek homeowners might get more letters about compliance from the Spring Creek Association Committee of Architecture after its September review of properties.
The COA recently amended its rules and regulations and upgraded its computer system to quickly process property reviews.
The property reviews allow the COA to contact residents who need to work on fixing violations such as mowing weeds, removing inoperative or unlicensed vehicles, removing trash, storing tool, repairing exteriors and fencing and completing other maintenance work.
Maintenance and property uses are defined in the COA’s rules and regulations packet, which describes property owners’ guidelines, ranging from garages and outdoor lighting to domestic animals and livestock.
The master Declaration of Reservations, written in 1971, was meant to govern the association, said Diane Parker, COA chairwoman. The Rules and Regulations break down points individually.
This year, additions, changes and amendments were approved in April – the first revision in four years.
New 11-page Rules and Regulations, Spring Creek Committee of Architecture (Revised April 2017)
And then, just a few days ago, Elko Daily reported that since several new members have been elected to the board in recent months, the HOA has decided to continue discussion on HOA alternatives, despite the conclusions of the Hansford consultant.
The board continues to seek a way to shift cost burdens away from the HOA, and hopes to discover some alternative tax or grant revenue sources.
One possible alternative, not previously considered, would to create a contract city. (See Lakewood, CA for an example.) That alternative could provide better economies of scale through regional or country service contracts, or competitive pricing from private contractors, without the need to keep staff on the payroll.
The board also wants to look more deeply at the General Improvement District (GID) option. Perhaps the board might even consider a combination of both governance models, with different services assigned to the municipality vs. the GID, to achieve the optimal cost structure.
But the key question is this: will Spring Creek Association homeowners consider letting go of the HOA entirely? It seems that some owners fear what might happen if the HOA were to be dissolved, even though humanity has existed for hundreds, if not thousands of years with a developer or a group of neighbors to enforce sometimes onerous restrictive covenants.
And when will homeowners recognize that while current HOA fees appear to be lower than alternative governance models studied to date, the value of HOA dollars is low as long as roads, water supply, and recreational facilities remain in poor condition?
The future cost of a special assessment or HOA loans could easily exceed taxes payable to a municipality or improvement district.
The exploration continues.
SCA considers municipality options
TONI R. MILANO email@example.com Sep 4, 2017 2
SPRING CREEK – To possibly deliver other sources of revenue to pay for road and amenity maintenance in Spring Creek, homeowners association directors have decided to continue looking at municipality options.
President Jessie Bahr sought the board’s opinion during its regular monthly meeting on whether to continue looking at options for the association, which would be an added expense in the SCA’s budget, or conclude the research process.
Bahr asked if the board wanted her to look deeper into alternatives that were reported in a study by Hansford Economic Consulting earlier this year. Residents have expressed a preference for a governance option that would not cost them more money and would maintain a Spring Creek governing body.
“It would be finding different revenue sources so we don’t have to raise assessments,” Bahr said.
The Hansford study revealed five options, including remaining an HOA; becoming an unincorporated town; forming a district for maintenance of roads; or becoming a general improvement district for roads, a GID; or a multiservice GID.
Contract cities and legislative changes were two other options Bahr said she could investigate, along with more study into a regular GID.