“So, Why Should I Care?” The Danger of Failing to Support New Town’s Revised Governing Documents
Posted on September 1, 2021 7:03 AM by Patti Vaticano
If you’ve been reading our Town Crier articles on the need to revamp the means of property assessment in NTRA’s Governing Documents (no less than 4 edifying articles since May, along with a website FAQ list to peruse) then, you most likely fall into one of three categories:
- You understand the need to revamp our method of property assessment and are willing to move forward to reflect current times for the sake of the equitable treatment of all New Town homeowners;
- You’re totally confused by the issue and have shut down; or
- You don’t care about the issue or fear the revamping will cost you more money than you are currently shelling out for your HOA fees. Those of you in this category may have decided to vote against any revamping or simply do nothing, at all, in the hopes the problem will resolve itself or go away, entirely.
For those of you in the first category, Brava!-Bravo!—and thank you.
For those in the second category, let me try to clarify the issue. The simple take-away would be that when the Developer was actively selling homes in New Town and before community management was turned over to New Town homeowners, HOA dues were kept at an attractive minimum to generate New Town home sales growth. An analogy would be a cable company offering new members monthly premiums for cable hook-up at a rock bottom price. But as most cable subscribers know, those cable rates are never intended to continue on through the member’s subscription, indefinitely. It is much the same with the current assessments in New Town. The current pattern of low property dues can no longer be maintained.
To complicate matters further, the means of assessing New Town HOA dues laid out in our documents was not followed. Continuing the cable company analogy, NTRA’s documents require “subscribers” receiving only basic TV services to share payments for bundle plans (with phone, internet and Premium channels like HBO), just because they live in the same New Town neighborhood. Such an assessment framework (see the figure below) is inequitable and frankly, unjust. But if it is in our “contracts,” can we just ignore it?
For those homeowners who fall within the third category, voting against our revised Governing Documents--or simply failing to vote at all for fear of incurring a higher HOA assessment--is a foolhardy tactic. Attempts to save yourself money will likely cost you more money in the future; because if you fail to act or vote against these revisions, your HOA dues will rise even higher than they may need to otherwise, to cover both future legal counsel and lawsuit costs. Resolution is simple. An honest grappling with the proposed new documents now will not only ensure that all New Town homeowners are fairly treated on the issue—but save each homeowner from incurring a greater assessment tab later.
Be forewarned and forearmed: The cost to fight any legal actions taken against the Association or even the Developer Board for failing to use the existing documents for assessments will hit every homeowner harder and at greater cost if we fail to tackle and dismantle the problem.
So why should you care about this issue? Well, you shouldn’t care--unless safeguarding your family’s budget is important to you. If we all, as a community, bite the bullet now and support updating and improving our documents, including a more equitable means of assessing HOA dues, not only will we put a fair and defensible assessment system in place—we will be able to keep assessment dues manageable in the future for all NTRA homeowners.
The Board of Directors is providing ample time for you to consider these draft changes, provide your suggestions, and be prepared to vote in early 2022. Join us in category one!
Posted on September 9, 2021 3:49 PM
I think the current assessment statement on the char that all homes pay the same assessment fee is incorrect; currently there are three levels of fees: cottages, townhomes, and detached homes. I may have misread the article chart, but please advise.
REPLY: The chart is accurate - it depicts what is required in our current Governing Documents from 2005! We are not in compliance with these documents, and the homeowner Board of Directors has consistently advised all Owners this is a serious problem. What past assessments have done is not correct - there is no legal basis for us to charge three levels of fees unless we CHANGE our documents. Please look at our current documents and nowhere will you find the authority to break out assessments by type of homes.
We need all Owners to understand the significance of this situation and to work with us to fix it by voting to revise our Governing Documents.
Last Edited: 09/12/2021 at 04:17 PM
Posted on September 16, 2021 6:26 PM
I believe Dave is correct. Last year's budget presentation showed different levels of assessment for Charlotte Park homes than for townhouses and cottages. And of course the folks at Village Walk pay a different amount, too.
Perhaps this is just a misunderstanding of terms.
REPLY: Unfortunately, all past assessments are in conflict with the NTRA's Governing Documents. The budget presentations you reference and the actual homeowner assessments all followed an erroneous methodology - not solely last year, but for all past NTRA assessments. The Board of Directors has been advising homeowners since May that the use of "detached homes, townhouses and cottages" for the levying of assessments is not legally based. Nor were any reductions in assessments for cottages. The current documents treat all home types equally, if we use these documents, there could not be any "different level of assessment."
Instead, homeowners should have received an assessment based on their neighborhood, i.e. a "Neighborhood Assessment". So for example in Charlotte Park, all homes - whether detached, townhouse or cottage - would be grouped together as one neighborhood and assessed as "Charlotte Park" for the same amount. Only Village Walk has ever been assessed using this "Neighborhood Assessment" concept.
We encourage all homeowners to read the Master Declaration (Article V, Section 5.3) and any of the Supplemental Declarations (other than Village Walk) that currently apply to New Town to recognize that assessments by home type have never been authorized. The Developer Board began a practice of levying assessments that is contrary to what was required and it continued for years.
The article is trying to demonstrate that only with revised governing documents will this situation be corrected.
Last Edited: 09/16/2021 at 10:00 PM