MO: County will take your private HOA roads off your hands — if they’re not too old and crumbly

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities


Jefferson County, Missouri, is joining the nationwide de-privatization trend. With regard to the utter failure of private homeowners’ associations to adequately maintain infrastructure, Jason Jonas, Public Works Director for the County, “gets it.”

Today’s referenced article is a refreshingly frank discussion of reality. HOA boards are generally clueless when it comes to maintaining private roads and bridges. HOAs rarely save enough money for road repair and resurfacing — they barely pay for plowing snow and pothole repair. As private organizations, they don’t have access to road and traffic engineers or contractors capable of doing road work.

Not mentioned by Jonas, but also a practical problem: road contractors aren’t that interested small jobs, typical of HOAs. Road repair contractors that are willing to work on one or two roads at a time charge a premium price. And, let’s face it, HOA contractors tend to be “preferred vendors” chosen by community association management companies, or friends and family of board members in smaller, self-managed communities.

So, are homeowners getting a fair price, or are they paying inflated rates for “referral fees” or kickback schemes?

I hear from many readers with this specific complaint!

And then there are the issues of poor quality service, unlicensed or shady contractors that don’t finish the job they’ve started, and a lack of accountability from both the contractor and the board that hired them.

HOAs do an equally poor job of maintaining private sewer and water utilities, storm water management systems, and dams that contain private lakes. Here on IAC, you’ll find dozens of posts on these topics, citing articles and television reports of homeowners,’ condominium, and cooperative housing associations in planned communities, dealing with crumbling roads, washed out bridges, chronic flooding caused by poor drainage, sewer backups, and poor water quality.

Sounds like utopia, right?


Reading between the lines…


While it’s generally good news that Jefferson County recognizes the error of its ways — approving dozens of planned communities with private roads over the past four decades — notice that Jonas says the County isn’t interested in taking on maintenance of roads more than 20 years old.

Even though 30-40 year old association-governed communities are most in need of assistance, their roads are too far gone. Jonas says that repairing these crumbling roads would bankrupt the County.

So, what are homeowners in mature HOAs supposed to do?

Chances are, Jefferson County will follow another emerging trend — establishing Special Districts designed to tax property owners for bringing their private roads up to current building code, so that the Municipality, County, or State can then accept those roads for ongoing public maintenance.

Those homeowners are likely to face some tough choices: fork over huge HOA special assessments, finance repairs with expensive HOA loans, or agree to pay higher property taxes, with County assessments spread out over 10 to 20 years.

Of the three options, working with the County seems to be the least of evils.

Jonas claims that adding 150 miles of private roads — the ones that are still in decent condition — won’t lead to tax increases. But, he admits that the County intends to tap into its share of state fuel tax dollars in order to keep that promise.

What happens when state fuel tax dollars won’t stretch far enough to repair roads in dozens, if not hundreds, of currently maintained by HOAs? A fuel tax increase seems likely in the state of Missouri. I’d bet on it.

Government leaders and housing policymakers, take note. For nearly five decades, the HOA industry has misled you into believing that privatization of infrastructure — both construction and maintenance — by a patchwork of planned community subdivisions, would save local and state government taxpayers a great deal of money and make housing more affordable.

But, in the long run, governments are left to deal with deteriorating neighborhoods, while housing has become much less affordable.

Meanwhile, housing consumers have been sold on the promise that HOAs exist to protect and enhance property values. It’s not as if home buyers are willing to pay a premium price for property in neighborhoods with crumbling roads and failing bridges.

Myths busted.


Unknown road requiring maintenance. (


ICYMI: County looks to take over 150 miles of private streets

By Steve Taylor, My Leader Publications

Jefferson County officials are looking to assume control of up to 150 miles of subdivision streets that are now under private ownership.

Public Works Director Jason Jonas said his department has begun accepting applications from subdivision homeowner associations that want the county to take over maintenance of their streets.

“We’re already reviewing two of the applications,” Jonas said, “and we’ve got another three or four considering it. And I’ve talked with maybe a half-dozen more.”

Assuming control of subdivision streets is a step forward for Jefferson County, which has never done so before, Jonas said.

Many other counties, on the other hand, do. For example, St. Louis County maintains about 600 miles of subdivision streets, and St. Charles County maintains 285 miles of those kinds of streets, Jonas said.

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One Reply to “MO: County will take your private HOA roads off your hands — if they’re not too old and crumbly”

  1. Government localities and developers have been responsible for all of this mess in associations across the US. Warn the government agencies? Ha. They work with developers and it’s scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back. The counties etc. get as much out of the developers’ HOA privatizing as anyone. They turn their back when inspections are supposed to be done — and in many areas if there are 50 or fewer homes involved — no inspections are required. Permits aren’t used for things normally required, so no record of being built and no inspection. Years and years of localities receiving taxpayer’s funds, but because taxpayers live in HOAs, the localities turn their back on taxpayers.

    This isn’t an HOA-generated problem, it is ridiculous that any government would believe the hype if it weren’t the most beneficial for them. The developer puts all that money into a new development, and pretty much does slipshod work, half-way done underground infrastructure etc., maybe doesn’t even put in all the drainage required by the locality but the project still gets signed off on…. happened here. All the golf games between county officials and developers etc., and maybe more. They all play the game. The HOA and homeowners are the ones who suffer.

    Additionally, you put homeowners with no business experience in positions as directors, and you expect an association to be run efficiently, and correctly? No. The whole thing is a sham and I have over 40 years experience with HOAs in every capacity you can think of; it’s the government fault and was introduced as a form of socialism. People need to wake up, but they need to wake up to the fact the government is taking them on HOAs.

    We have brand new roads put in by our county, yet they would not accept them into the county system. Not even a mile down the street, their roads are in terrible shape and they are in the system.

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