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Subject: HOA Fund Use
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Author Messages
JackB8
(Virginia)

Posts:114


07/14/2010 6:41 AM  
I have an interesting situation. I have been accused of thinking illogically as it applies to the use of HOA funds. I support using HOA funds for maintenance of ball fields which are specifically (in our documents) designated common area. These ball fields are available for use by all residents. I do not support buying starting blocks for a swim team which is named after our community because the starting blocks are used only for swim meets and are removed and replaced at every swim meet. They are not therefore available (or needed) for use by our residents. I have many (certainly not a majority) of residents who are unhappy about my opposition. One resident, very upset over the issue, said that the number of people on the swim team outnumbers the number who use the fields and that fact should be the determining factor for support. Our HOA attorney says the money (about $15,000) can be spent for the starting blocks as an improvement to the common area. In response to the attorney I say "only if the starting blocks are needed by the residents and available for their use - neither of which is to be the case". My attitude has gotten me flagged by many in our community as one who is not a team player. I say it depends on what team (the special interest team or the “average homeowner” team) one is talking about. Comments please.
GlenL
(Ohio)

Posts:5196


07/14/2010 8:00 AM  
Jack since the attorney phrased it as "an improvement to the common area". What do your CC&R's say about capital improvements? In our COA the amount the BOD can spend on capital improvements (not repairs or replacements) is limited to $2,000.00 without a homeowner vote.

"Common sense is like deodorant--the people who need it most never use it."
MaryA1


Posts:0


07/14/2010 8:13 AM  
Jack,

Is this a swim team that anyone in the HOA can join or is it a private swim team that the HOA allows to use the pool? If the former, then, IMO, the HOA can spend the money for the starting blocks. Look at it this way, not all children in the community will be using the ball fields, and not all members of the HOA use the pool, but if they are HOA amenties then the HOA is resp. for maint and upgrades. The determining factor is not the number who use the amenities but rather the fact that they ARE amenities.

BTW, do the other board members support your position? Remember, you're only one on the BOD, even though you may be the Pres, and have only one vote. If the rest of the BOD votes against you, IMO, you should not go around bad-mouthing their decision.
JackB8
(Virginia)

Posts:114


07/14/2010 10:18 AM  
Mary. I appreciate your feedback. You've given me another angle in which to view this issue. Whether. though, the swim team is private or public, starting blocks are not a necessary requirement for a pool. If they were, all community pools would have them. They are necessary only for swim team meets and are an expense our residents, as a group, should not be forced to fund. If I were to start a chess club, open to all residents, using the clubhouse for my club meetings, I would not expect the HOA to pay for timers and chess sets, although I could make the point that timers and chess sets are a necessary equipment upgrade to the clubhouse if it is to support my chess club meetings. The starting blocks are not a necessary piece of equipment (maintenance or upgrade) for the pool nor do they add to the functionality of the pool for the majority of residents.
Regarding bad mouthing: There is a fine line between "bad mouthing" and letting one's opinion be known. I'm not sure you can do one without doing the other, although I think "bad mouthing" is a very negative way to describe one's actions when they disageee with a given activity. I know you are trying to help and I appreciate it.
JackB8
(Virginia)

Posts:114


07/14/2010 10:30 AM  
Glen. The attorney did not use the words "an improvement to the common area" because starting blocks are not an improvement to the common area. A new set of chairs, a new covered patio, a new "additional" pool, anything that improves the facility for all residents - whether they choose to use these improvements or not, would make sense. Starting blocks are necessary only for a swim team and are reserved exclusively for those on the swim team (not available for use by non-swim team members). Thanks to you and mary I am beginning to see why I am meeting resistance from the special interest group on this issue. My real concern is for the future. We must be careful less we establish past preactice and set ourselves up for future expenditures for things that, although they do not benefit us all, are required to be paid for by us all.
JackB8
(Virginia)

Posts:114


07/14/2010 10:42 AM  
Glen. When I said "Improvement to the common area", those were my words. The attorney said "Since the blocks are for the common area, they can be paid for with HOA funds". He knows the starting blocks are an improvement only for the swim team, but he is not going to go there.
SusanW1
(Michigan)

Posts:5202


07/14/2010 2:28 PM  
Tough call, Jack.

Another way of thinking about this is whether having a swim team enhances your community, if fact, does it raise the community status? would that spill into raising property values?

You see where I am going?

If the board and the homeowners value this swim team, then support its efforts and provide it with proper equipment.

Bet if you have a family member on the team it is very important.
MaryA1


Posts:0


07/14/2010 3:36 PM  
Jack,

I did not mean to imply that you were "bad mouthing" the board; I just wanted to make the point. Of course you have a right to voice your opinion, but once the board has voted on the issue then I don't think it's proper to continue to voice your objections to their decision. A board should show unity in their actions. Just my opinion, of course.

You failed to answer my question: is the swim team private or are they sponsored by the assn? If they are a sponsored assn function then I see no reason why the assn cannot purchase the starting blocks. Any function that is supported by the assn can receive benefits from the assn if the BOD chooses to provide them. The fact that not all members will benefit from this should have no bearing on whether or not it should be undertaken. On the other hand, if this is a private swim club that only uses the assn pool, then purchasing the starting blocks would be akin to making a donation to a private entity which I would definitely not sanction.
JackB8
(Virginia)

Posts:114


07/14/2010 4:30 PM  
Mary. If you as a board member/president told the other board members that doing something would most likely be viewed as a violation of the Virginia Property Owner's Act, and that you had concerns about someone taking the issue of the board's actions to court, would you not vote against the action, and further voice your objections right up to the point where the board actually completed the voted upon action? I think you would - just as I have - not to bad mouth the board but to protect the board and the community. We have in this community people who feel strongly about this issue - pro and con. In fact one of the swim team parents went so far as to tell me the board could be made to support the swim team because it has a responsibility to do so. The swim team is a private swim team. The question of "Sponsorship" is what this issue speaks to. In the past the only support we provided was use of the pool. In fact, during swim meets, the pool is closed to residents. Your last sentence contains my concern - that of taking on, by purchasing the starting blocks, sponsorship of the team and opening the door for other equally worthwhile groups. I do not think most of our residents expected such sponsorships/obligations when they moved into our community and were told they would have to pay assessments for the common areas. Again, I appreciate your thoughts and welcome them. You and the other folks on this forum are doing exactly what I asked in posting this issue - giving me other considerations I need to think about in evaluating my feelings on this issue.
GlenL
(Ohio)

Posts:5196


07/14/2010 9:11 PM  
Jack again if the blocks don't currently exist as part of the common area, then IMO they are a capital improvement. Do your CC&R's address that at all? IMO if the blocks are for the sole use of a private swim team then the purchase with HOA funds is improper and the swim team should buy their own blocks. Either their parents could chip in or they could hold some fund raisers to buy them.

"Common sense is like deodorant--the people who need it most never use it."
JackB8
(Virginia)

Posts:114


07/15/2010 6:44 AM  
Glen. Our documents basically say the assessments are to be used for common area expenses. They also reference the Virginia Property Owner's Association Act. Good to hear from you on this issue. I am concerned only that residents support that which they agreed to support when they signed up to buy a home here.
MaryA1


Posts:0


07/15/2010 7:28 AM  
Jack,

Ok, Jack. Now that you've answered my question -- this swim team is private, I can give a much better opinion. The BOD definitely should NOT purchase anything for the sole use of this private swim team. I applaud you for doing all in your power to get them to see the error of their ways. Any member who supports this action must be a parent of a swim team member. And the parent who said the BOD has a resp to support a private swim team certainly doesn't know what he/she is talking about. The BOD definitely has no resp. to support any entity that is NOT a part of the HOA. IMO, the board members who support this action should be subject to a recall as they are not acting in the best interests of the assn. I mean, we're not talking about a few hundred dollars but $15,000 -- a rather sizeable amount.

If I, as a board member, was told that I, or the board, was violating a state law -- or the governing documents -- I would definitely check out the law in question. If, I, as a board member, knew that a particular board action was in violation of state law or the governing documents I would try to convince my fellow board members they were violating the law by voting for such an action. I would of course vote against such action and make certain my "no" vote, and the reason why, was stated in the record. D&O insurance will not protect board members who knowingly violate state law or the governing documents. Try running that by your board members!
JackB8
(Virginia)

Posts:114


07/16/2010 10:37 AM  
Mary. I came to all of you because, even though the final decision on this issue was made after a special meeting held several months ago, I wondered how other HOAs might handle an issue like this. All of you have been most helpful. I fought this almost two year battle because I felt, and I sensed - as a result of many discussions with homeowners - both swim team members and non members, that this was an improper use of our HOA funds. Because of the usual apathy found in homeowner associations, only ten families attended the special meeting, and they were about equally split over the issue, with swim team members supporting and non-members not. Only one swim team father agreed with my position. In the final analysis, the board voted to disapprove this support, but not I think because they agreed with my position but because they wanted to avoid court action. I am certainly glad for the existance of this forum and for all of you who give it life. Thanks for your thoughts.
MaryA1


Posts:0


07/16/2010 12:55 PM  
Jack,

I'm glad to hear the board voted against this -- for whatever reason!
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