October 5, 2017
By Tom Sopko
Board has voted to review how membership cards are used and required. It doesn’t mean that any changes will be made. What this does mean is that the Office has been asked to review membership cards. The Board has asked that any proposed changes be made by January so as to allow time for communication and implementation.
The Board was represented at the Ohio Lake Communities Association (OLCA) meeting at Lake Holiday in Willard OH. As you may recall the OLCA is comprised of 22 lake communities like the RomeRock Association. These OLCA meetings are a way for the Board to gauge how we compare versus other lake communities, and it’s an opportunity to share solutions to common problems. Based on comparing your Lake Roaming Rock to Lake Holiday, we are in great shape. Lake Holiday was very similar to the RRA.
The Board and Dan Mullins met with Roger Corlett, the Ashtabula County Auditor on April 22, 2017. Three important points that came out of the Meeting: (1) no one in the Association is paying a Road Tax, (2) everyone pays about the same property tax rate regardless of whether you live on a Village, Township, County, or Association owned road. (3) The Road Assessment paid to the Association is by virtue of each Association Member buying into the Homeowners Association. Mr. Corlett will meet with the Members on Saturday, October 21, 2017, Clubhouse, 10:00am to 11:30am. Private meetings about your own real estate tax situation can be setup with Mr. Corlett.
The Impact Fee. The Impact fee of $1000, is a fee charged new property owners of the Association at the time of their purchase into the Association. An Impact fee is intended to cover the cost to the Association that are directly or indirectly related to the transfer of ownership, including, without limitation, administrative expenses and contribution toward amenities that have been bought and paid for by monies collected from previous Members. The impact fee available from 2016 property sales was $72,000, for 2017 it is estimated to be $90,000+. Money from the impact fee goes to the Road Assessment, Amenities and the General Assessment Fund. It has been suggested to eliminate that fee. It is the Board’s suggestion that if you decide to eliminate the Impact fee, you also decide what you are going to cut out or reduce, examples: pool maintenance, road maintenance, dredging, or snow plowing (examples). Or do you want to increase dues/assessment about $70 to $80 per year to maintain what we currently have because that is what will be needed to maintain a balanced budget.
Our Financials are in terrific shape. Although you just heard the financials, let me summarize them again. We have approximately $198,000 in savings for which we are considering spending $50,000 on another barge to be used in the dredging. Then we have another $233,000 available for maintenance and capital improvements for the balance of the year 2017. The actual interest charge on existing loans has decreased through negotiating the refinance of existing loans, and the payoff period is the same. The Board demonstrated in several publications that it was in the Association’s best interest, and the Association is you, to build an Office as opposed to renting. Your Association Financials are in very sound shape.
Public versus Private. Most or all of us bought property in the Association either with knowledge of becoming and/or because we wanted to become part of a private lake community. There are now people, some of whom are paying Members and some of whom are not members, claiming that we can maintain privacy even if all of the current private facilities and amenities were to come under the ownership and control of the Village, a public body. The co-existence of a Village and an Association has been highly praised by other members of OLCA. Other OLCA member communities have expressed their desire to have both a public Village and a private Association. As an example: Hide Away Hills did away with their Dam Insurance because of the cost; each Member is now paying $4000 to pay for a $2.5million dam repair because of a Dam failure; this is because Hide Away Hills did not have a Village to help with the Dam insurance. The Roaming Shores Village has served a valuable role in maintaining for the Community certain services that are typically provided by local government, including the Utilities, water and sewer, and the Police Force. The Association has its role in the maintenance of its amenities and its facilities that are for the enjoyment of the members only as opposed to the public in general, including providing a venue for clubs and social activities. While it is easy to speak and write about eliminating the Association and turning everything over to the Village to be publicly owned and operated, the process to do so is a monumental complicated task. While it always has been and remains the Board’s position that there is no good reason to eliminate the dual entities, those that call for abolishing the Association and turning everything over to the Village appear to have failed to think this process through or consider applicable Ohio law. In order to sell or transfer all of the common properties owned by the Association for the private benefit of its members, the Board would require the approval of “75% of the voting power of the owners association.” Even if the approval of 75% of the Members was not an insurmountable obstacle, the Board would not seek to eliminate the very association that was formed and has been maintained for the particular benefit of its Members.
Lastly, there is no “free lunch”. If an Impact Fee is not collected, either dues/assessments need to be raised or some amenity needs to be cut out or reduced. If you think you want the Village as your sole management organization, then even assuming you can somehow garner the 75% approval to abolish the Association, you should first inquire extensively as to whether and how the Village can both raise the money necessary to maintain and acquire the facilities and amenities to which you have grown accustomed and maintain their privacy and exclude their use by non-residents. If you want only the Association to operate without assistance from the Village, it may be necessary to increase dues/assessments to cover certain expenses such as the Dam insurance.
Your Association has frugally and judicially used your money. You can push to eliminate the Impact Fee and/or move to a single management organization, but you need to first fully understand the consequences and difficulties in doing so. Just remember, there are things you get now that need to be paid for by either the Village or the Association. There is “no free lunch”.