Affiliate member of the POA
T.J. and the GOTPOAs Bella Vista POA CEO Tom Judson (T.J.), and the Board, have either been clueless or ignoring the growing anger of many POA members regarding their decision to throw open the doors to our amenities to one and all. If T.J. was paying attention, his illusion that all is well in this “land of pleasant living” ended at the Metfield meeting on Sept. 13.
Many attendees were upset that anyone and everyone are now allowed to use the POA amenities as Guests of the POA (GOTPOA). This private community is private no more, and no longer does a guest need to be “sponsored” by a POA Member. This significantly diminishes the value of being a POA member and property owner, as the GOTPOA pay no “assessment fee” for the privilege of having access to the amenities. Again, “why buy the cow … ?” Also, they have no attachment to the community. T.J. acknowledged, when the annual assessment fees are factored in, a POA member pays more than a GOTPOA to use the same amenities.
As an example, I pay $480/year just for the privilege of having access to the POA amenities. I pay this before I walk in the door on January 1. Then, I must pay whatever user fee for the particular amenity, i.e., golf, pool, tennis, etc. POA Member fees are slightly less than the GOTPOA fees ($4 less for golf, $0.50 less to swim, and $1.50 less to play tennis).
If T.J. believes opening our amenities is the answer to our financial woes, he must address the issue of the GOTPOA getting a “free ride,” while we pay the costs of building and maintaining those amenities. T.J. mentioned several times that a GOTPOA used an amenity and then bought property. So, let’s think of the GOTPOA program as a Junket. Many developers, Cooper included, use junkets to promote their developments. There is one small catch. As with all junkets, each GOTPOA would need to sit through a 30-45 minute sales pitch.
A young woman at the meeting suggested a viable solution for the issue of Guests of the POA. If John Q. from Anyplace USA wants access to our amenities, they go to Member Services, pay $192 for an “Affiliate POA Member” card, and then they can use all amenities at member rates for a year. The $192 is the same amount paid for an unimproved lot. Since “Member and Associate Member” are already defined in the ByLaws, the Board could create a non-voting “Affiliate Member” category. Walla, presto the GOTPOA issue is solved. The POA gets more money, the property owners are not paying more than a GOTPOA, and benefits of property ownership are preserved. Everyone wins.
Finally, it was an interesting meeting with a spirited, but respectful back and forth. However, when a member of the Board of Directors started telling property owners to shut up, that’s when I left.
Bill King Bella Vista
City correct, not POA
Last Wednesday the
Weekly Vista newspaper published an article on the front page about the city council and their concern over not having enough reserve funds on hand. Reserve Funds were defined as a set of funds “to cover risks, including economic downturns and other costly emergencies.” The city council voted to maintain a level of reserve funds equal to a range of 25-35 percent of annual income.
On the other side of the coin, our POA had approximately $12 million in reserve funds when our COO, Tom Judson came three years ago. That level is now $600,000 with Mr. Judson saying that it would be zero by the end of year and we would no doubt have to borrow money from our Water Company.
About a month ago I emailed Mr. Judson and asked why he had moved our reserves from long term investments to short term “spendable” funds. He told me he wasn’t happy with the return our long term investments were making so he “recommended” to the board to eliminate our reserves. (At that point I should have asked what the rate of return was and what penalties did we have to pay to withdraw this money, but I didn’t.) Naturally, our board followed the recommendation of their leader. If you ask Mr. Judson or any board member about spending all of our reserves, they will tell you how proud they are of what has been accomplished.
We have totally different money management philosophies from our two governing bodies. The city says we need reserves in case of emergencies. Tom Judson says we still have a little money set aside for emergencies and we always have insurance and can borrow from the Water Company if we have a problem.
I believe the city is taking the correct approach to managing our money and the POA is not. I believe we should rebuild our reserves to a level recommended by some entity that knows what they are doing not the zero level recommended by Mr. Judson. I also believe that until this is done, only a minimal assessment increase can be justified. This would be an increase dedicated to rebuilding reserves. Mr. Judson has stated on the POA website that “we have enough funds to maintain what has been recently improved and updated.” So, some of the capital projects on the five year wish list will have to wait. For example, we would not be able to expand the new beach. Mr. Judson stated in another meeting that we would not be expanding the beach for several years anyway to make sure it was going to be a long term success before spending more money on it. We might have to wait on kayak launch sites and additional playground equipment. The “splash park” and east side dog park may have to be rescheduled. These adjustments we can live with but, not being able to handle emergencies, is just playing with fire.
Larry Blech Bella Vista