President’s Comments

President’s Comments Oct 2017 Board Meeting

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”.   

President’s Comments Sept 2017 Board Meeting

A goal of this Board has been to improve dues and assessment collections.  An action item of the Collections Policy developed by our Attorney is to assign a Board Member for our Attorney to work with.  John Martin, our Treasurer, has been assigned.   

The Board is reviewing a new Employee Handbook.  It is anticipated that by the next Board Meeting the Association will have a new Employee Handbook.

Water Quality.  As you probably noticed, there were warning signs about a high level of algae toxins with the State’s recommendation that there be no contact with the water.  This was based on the sampling that we agreed to earlier in the year.  The Association will report the data, however, the Association will not make a recommendation.  The Association is providing as much information as possible so that each Member can make their own decision.  Additional sampling has been proposed by Lake Management and it has been agreed to by the Board to see if we can predict a situation like this again.

The meeting with our County Auditor, Roger Corlett, will be October 21, 2017, 10:00am at the Clubhouse.  Mr. Corlett will compare tax rates around the Association and Village, and address the Road Tax.  This is not a meeting to discuss your personal property tax.  Mr. Corlett invites you to set up a private appointment should you desire to discuss you own property tax.

Subcommittees for both the Association and the Village are meeting to work out the differences between the Village and the Association.  The immediate goal for this group is to negotiate maintenance of the roads which includes snowplowing, lawn mowing, culvert installation and all the associated activities.  The second goal is to re-negotiate the Dam Contract.  The first meeting was Thursday, July 13, 2017, the second meeting August 16, 2017, and the next meeting is scheduled for September 27, 2017.  Thus far, the Association has become a registered contractor to the Village and the Association has provided individual prices for snow plowing, grass cutting and culvert maintenance.  

In the September 2017 Roaming Shores Newspaper, it is reported that the “Board agrees to not buy back unwanted property lots.”  Just to be clear, this was not a recent decision.  The Association, at the direction of the Board, has not taken back lots in over 10 years; several Boards over the years have taken this same policy.  Financially, the Association cannot afford to take back property that an owner no longer wants.  The Association, and you are the Association, cannot afford to be responsible for the taxes and utility fees.

Lastly, the Association Operations Manager and Staff have done a fine job of maintaining and improving the facilities.  The Board hopes that you, the Members, enjoyed the Association amenities and that you continue to use the facilities remaining open after Labor Day, and that you continue to support the Club activities. 

President’s Comments May 2017 Board Meeting

By: Tom Sopko, President

The Annual Meeting was held on Saturday, April 29, 2017.  About eighty were in attendance.  They learned that the Association is solvent; 2016 was operated within a balanced budget; the Association was in their new Office; there are no dues or assessment increases; improvements that have been made to the amenities; status of the Clubs; and the Association’s future plans.  Important items to the Members were being able to recycle trash, the condition of properties, safety on the water, and Member in arrears for dues and assessments.  Following the Meeting there was a reception with the Board and the Members.  Then there were tours of the new Office.

Following the Annual Meeting and tours of the new Office, the Board met for their annual reorganizational meeting.  The Board Officer positions and the Standing Committees remain the same for 2017 as they were in 2016.

The Board and the Association Manager met with Roger Corlett, the Ashtabula County Auditor on April 22, 2017.  Three important points that came out of the Meeting is that (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 to the Association is by virtue of each Association Member buying into the Homeowners Association.  Mr Corlett will hold a follow up meeting with the Members in September, target date September 23.

The RomeRock Association is a Homeowners Association (HOA).  It means that we collectively pay for the operation and the amenities.  Roads, pools, pavilions, volley ball court, tennis court, RL lots etc. are common amenities.  If this is a concept that you cannot embrace, then maybe, it’s time you look elsewhere for another Community to live in.  You bought into this HOA concept when you bought your property.  It is not a new concept instituted by this Board or past Boards.  It was instituted by the Developer in the 1960s before turning the property over to the Association.  The HOA has been in place going on 51 years.  HOA’s are a very common practice by this Lake Community, the RRA, as well as other lake communities.  It is also a very common practice for condo associations, and groups of homes.  This Board is not going to move to an a la carte system of paying for roads, pools and other amenities; it would be an impossible task.

President’s Comments April 2017 Board Meeting

I want to thank Jim Swartz for filling in for me tonight.  I have some out-of-state family commitments today.

As you already notice, we are having our April Board Meeting and subsequent Board Meetings at the Clubhouse.  Following these meetings will be a social reception for Members the Board.  The Board is hoping that this will promote a sense of Community.  This is to be an opportunity for the Membership to meet other Members and the Board.  Sorry I am missing the first one.

As a reminder, there were only two Candidates for the two open Board Seats.  According to the Bylaws, when the number of candidates equal or are less than the number of open Seats, the Board can suspend the Election by confirming the candidates.  We confirmed the candidates at the March Board Meeting.  The two new Board Members for the 2017 to 2020 period are Jim Swartz and Ron Morris.

Our new business Office is complete and at the old location.  The new Office is in use. A special thanks to Dan Mullins, our Association Operations Manager, and Jim Swartz, our Vice President of the Board for navigating the construction process.  And a further thanks to Dan and Jim along with our office staff, Pat Sowry and Jen Addair, and our Maintenance staff for the transition back to Route 6.

The Annual Meeting will be held on April 29, 2017, 1pm right here at the Clubhouse.  Following the meeting will be a social with other Members and the Board, and then a tour of the new Office for those making the trip to Route 6.

The Board cancelled out of the joint Village-Association meeting in March for what turned out to be a record snow for the area.  We will reschedule after the Board has an opportunity to agree upon potential dates which will be provide to the Village.  In addition the Board will address the Mayor’s suggestion that we have a few representatives rather than the entire Board.

Volunteerism:  I want to thank all the Volunteers that it took to put on several activities over the past several weeks.  The Polar Bear Plunge, Dog Training, Winter Fest,  Friends and Neighbors Dinner, Shores Hold ém, Quilting, and the Fishing Club.  If I missed any I apologize to that group. Hopefully, these activities will continue to increase and our Members will create and/or find activities that interest them.  It is no small task to put on these events and the Board is greatly appreciative of these events for the development of our Community.

March President’s Comments

At the February 2017 Board Meeting, questions arose over the Impact Fee.  The Impact Fee is charged at each property transfer, except in the death of an owner passing his property on to family heirs.  The current Impact Fee is $1,000.   The amount collected in 2016 was $76,000.  The purpose of the Impact Fee is to have new property owners contribute to the roads, general fund and amenities which is how the Impact Fee is allocated.  The Board subsequently discussed the Impact Fee and decided to make no changes to how the Impact Fee is administered or to the amount.

As we discussed at the December and February meetings, the Association will host Roger Corlett, the Ashtabula County Auditor.  Mr. Corlett will discuss how real estate taxes are accessed, collected, and dispersed.  At Mr Corlett’s request, this first meeting will be with the Board, and the Association Operations Manager.  A subsequent meeting will then be planned with the Membership.

Important Item:  The next several Board Meetings, including the April 6th meeting, will be held at the Clubhouse followed by a Members reception. Light refreshments will be provided as an opportunity to interact with the Board, Club Presidents, and one another.

Last Saturday, the Winterfest, a planned outdoor activity, was held indoors at the Clubhouse, due to the lack of winter weather.  There were games, crafts, movies, and treats for all.  The event was Free.  The Board wishes to thank Office Employee, Jen Addair, Association Maintenance and Board Member/President of STARS, Jack McMillin, and their throng of STARS Club volunteers for a fun day.  Everyone that attended would have to agree that the kids had a good time and the adults had a good time watching them have a good time.  The Board hopes that STARS does this again.

The nominations to the Board for the 2017 Election closed on February 28, 2017 at 1:00pm.  There are two seats open for the next three years.  The qualified candidates are incumbents:  Jim Swartz, and Ron Morris.  Update: Based on the By-Laws, being the same number of candidates as positions available, the Board can vote to eliminate the Ballot which was done at the March Board Meeting.  Therefore, there will be no Ballot.  There is an out-of-pocket savings as well as a considerable time savings.

The Annual Meeting will be held at the Clubhouse on Saturday April 29, 2017, 1pm.  A summary of the previous year will be covered.  Refreshments will be served at the end.  And this year the Board will host a tour of the new Office following the refreshments at the Clubhouse.

President’s Comments Feb 2017 Board Meeting

By Tom Sopko – RRA Board President

The Board wishes each Member a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.

I apologize for canceling January Meeting. The weather was bad, and forecasted to get worse. It seemed to be the prudent thing to do. We contacted as many regular attendees as possible. Hopefully you got the message.

As we discussed at the December meeting, the Association will host Roger Corlett, the Ashtabula County Auditor at the Clubhouse. Roger will discuss with the Membership how real estate taxes are accessed, collected, and dispersed. The meeting date is targeted to include the snowbirds.

For 2017, the Village of Roaming Shores elected to maintain their own Village owned roads. Previously, they paid the Association to maintain their roads. The Village owns approximately 1.75 miles of roads. For the month of January 2017, the Association maintained the Village’s roads along with our own Association private roads, while the Village set themselves up with the necessary maintenance equipment.

As we begin 2017, the Board wishes to remind you of the capital improvements done by the Association. Examples are, the new Office building; the Clubhouse renovations which included painting, doors and windows, flooring and lighting; the pavilions concrete flooring; and the dredging; just to mention a few. These all occurred at no additional costs to the Membership.

And just as a reminder, your Directors are unpaid dedicated volunteers.

And we thank you for your continued support.

President’s Comments December 2016 Board Meeting

By Tom Sopko – RRA Board President

  1. The Board and the Association wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday, and a Happy New Year.
  1. The RomeRock Association is a Homeowners Association. The members of RomeRock Association consist of the owners of real property within the Roaming Rock Shores Subdivision along with their spouses and others approved for membership in accordance with the Association’s By-Laws.

“Homeowner’s associations (HOA) are formed by planned communities with single-family homes or multiple unit or condominiums. An HOA is typically established to make and enforce rules regarding the properties within the jurisdiction. Most HOAs are incorporated and are subject to state laws. The association has a board of directors that are elected to enforce and oversee the HOA governing documents.”*

* (http://www.investopedia.com/terms/h/hoa.asp?lgl=no-infinite)

  1. At the November 2016 Joint meeting with the Council for the Village of Roaming Shores, it was questioned whether RomeRock Association has been “double dipping” on the road fees. This has upset a number of Members, which I can understand.  However, I would like to clarify that the Association is not double dipping.
    1. A majority of the roads in the Roaming Rock Shores Subdivision are private roads owned and maintained by the Association. All properties in the Subdivision and their owners are charged a road assessment as part of being an HOA. The road assessment is used to pay for all of the roads owned and maintained by the Association. .  As property owners in the Village and County, we all pay taxes for which some of it goes to the County and some the Village, and eventually some is allocated to roads.
    2. We all pay taxes to maintain County or Village roads that we do not live on or use. We all pay a proportionate share of the costs to maintain all of the Association’s properties and facilities, including the roads and the lake, regardless of the extent we use them as they are all equally available for the use and enjoyment of the members and they help to enhance the value of all properties that are part of the Association.
    3. Dues and Assessments are part of being a member of a homeowners association. The dues/assessments are paid whether a Member use facilities (such as roads, pools, volley ball court, etc.) or not.  The costs of the facilities available to all members are apportioned by lot and membership as it is simply not reasonable or realistic to apportion costs based on quantity of use. As Members, we all pay a proportionate share of the cost of all facilities and not just those we choose to use or not use.
  1. The action item from the Joint Village – Association Meeting of November 10, 2016 is to form a Committee to review the monetary payment by the Village to the Association for maintaining Village Roads. The Association remains ready for that meeting.
  1. The Board wants to express their sympathies to the John Ball Family for their loss.

 

President’s Comments Nov 2016 Board Meeting

  1. In the past Month of October 2016, the Mayor has commented many times, “Sopko said” or “Sopko was right”, or “Sopko pointed out”.
    1. I just wanted it to be clear that Sopko is just another Association Board Member who happens to be the President representing the Board. What I say has been vetted by the Board and represents the Boards position.
    2. If I make my own comment, I state that it is my feeling at the beginning of the comment.
  1. We are the Village and we are the Association. Members of Ohio Lakes Community Association (OCLA) highly praised our Village and Association arrangement.
    1. Recently, there has been significant comment by the Mayor in the Shores News about the Dam Purchase Agreement not being good for the Village. The question should be is it good for the Community.
  1. The Association would like to remind the Members that we the Association would have a difficult time purchasing insurance on the Dam.
    1. A good example of dam insurance is Hide-A-Way Hills. There annual dam insurance costs increased toward $100,000.  They dropped their insurance.
    2. The Dam failed when they had no insurance and the cost per Member to repair the Dam was $4,000. The entire Dam repair was $2.5 million.
    3. Our Association Assessments would have to rise if the Association we were to insure the Dam. Per Member, the figure is estimated to be $8 assessment increase per year per $10,000 additional premium on the insurance.  The Assessment increase for dam insurance is estimated to be on the order of $24 to $80 per Member per year.
  1. The Board wants the Members to recall that we are both Members of the Association and Residents of the Village.
    1. We all pay taxes to the Village and we all pay dues/assessments to the Association. The Community should be getting some help from the Village and the Association.

President’s Comments May 2016 Board Meeting

By Tom Sopko | RRA President

  1. Summary of the Election for Directors
    1. Election for 3 Directors to serve for 3 years.
    2. Candidates
      1. Ed Baitt *
      2. John Lindemann *
      3. John Martin *
      4. Jack McMillin
    3. * indicates winning the election
    4. Thank you to all the candidates for running.
    5. Congratulations to the winners.
  1. Officer Elections for the 2016/2017 Association operating year, same as last year.
    1. Tom Sopko – President
    2. Jim Swartz – Vice President
    3. John Martin – Treasurer
    4. Dave Emick – Secretary
  1. Is there or has there ever been a Dredging Fund?
    1. The issue has come up several times recently.
    2. There is no fund and never has been a Dredging Fund.
    3. We could find no record of a Dredging Fund
      1. It may have been discussed by previous Boards, but was never implemented.
      2. The last major Assessment increase, $85, went into the General Fund.
  1. Police on the Lake
    1. The Village and Association reached agreement on providing police coverage on the Lake at varying times.
  1. Summary of the Ohio Lakes Community Association Meeting sponsored by Hide-Away-Hills and Pine Lakes.
    1. Summary provided separately.
    2. This fall’s Ohio Lakes Community Association Meeting will be held here in the Clubhouse.

Hide-Away-Hills/Pine Lake Summary

By Tom Sopko | RRA President

Hide Away Hills and Pine Lakes jointly sponsored the Spring 2016 Ohio Lakes Communities Association (OLCA) meeting held at Hide Away Hills.  We did not see any of Pine Lakes.  Jen Addair, one of our office employees, is a Board Member for OLCA.  RRA Board attendees were Dave Emick, Jim Swartz and myself.  Dan Mullins, our Association Manager attended.

  1. Hide Away Hills (HAH) General Description
    1. Extremely rural, heavily wooded.
    2. Completely gated. 5 gates.  One main gate, manned 24/7.  Other gates operated by key fob like our lake boat ramp gate.
    3. Lot sizes about an acre.
    4. 710 Members
    5. Roads are very narrow and rough. Chip and tar on bare ground.
      1. Many places too narrow for two cars to pass, no pull offs, courtesy required.
      2. Buses are not permitted.
      3. Speed limit, 19MPH. Lucky to get up to that speed.
      4. 37 miles of roads.
    6. 40% occupancy, year around.
    7. Average property sale price with a home on it before dam failure (dam failure discussed later) $178K in 2012 and $161K in 2013. After dam failure about $136K, average price in 2015.  About 35 realtor sales per year from 2012 to 2015; private sales not tracked.
      1. Homes seemed very nice, well kept.
    8. Mail received in central locations, little buildings, not at a mailbox at each house.
    9. Off lake property with no home has little value, sometimes lots being given away.
    10. About 200 homes on lake and 500 homes off lake.
    11. Water supply is by individual well. Sewers by individual septic.
  1. Hide-Away-Hills Lake
    1. 110 acre
    2. Clear water as described to us. From high up, it looked a little green. Close up it was clear enough to see a few feet down.  No floating material.
    3. Water shed includes no farmland, meaning no fertilizer runoff.
    4. Lake Speed limit 30mph
    5. Power boating not suggested on Lake in 2015. Not suggested for 2016.  Lake down about 2.5 feet due to dam failure. Water needs to be down about 8 feet to make repairs.
  1. Hide-Away Hills Dam Failure
    1. Earthen dam slippage and failure noticed in November 2013
    2. ODNR required a new dam to be built, or the Lake to be drained
    3. Dam repair to cost about $2.5million, about $4000 per Member.
    4. Member vote required, 66-2/3% must approve to assess this amount.
      1. Actual vote was 85% in favor of doing Dam Repairs and assessing each member $4000.
  1. Revenue Sources
    1. Bar & Brewery and Food Service in Clubhouse
      1. Bar & Brewery is profitable
      2. Food service is not profitable. However, pizza service is profitable.
    2. Dues, $1910/year per member
    3. Road Assessment, $200/year
    4. Impact or Amenity Fee, $4200 per property transfer
  1. Amenities and Volunteerism
    1. Amenities are funded through Impact Fee. Fee is $4200 per property transfer. Allocation of this fee:
      1. 50% to amenities
      2. 40% to general fund
      3. 10% to other
    2. Amenity fund about $100K, fluctuates based on money in and out.
    3. Use of amenities was free to members
    4. 24 Committees, examples
      1. Sound system in Club House.
      2. Airstrip
      3. Golf course, 9 hole
      4. Shooting range
      5. Long range planning
      6. Nominating
      7. Tennis
      8. Swimming pool (one pool)
      9. Chapel
      10. Organic gardening
      11. Amphitheater, outdoor entertainment
      12. Many more
    5. Each committee must raise some of their own money, before being able to request money from the Amenity fund.
    6. Board did not allocate Amenity money, but had the final vote on installing an amenity.
  1. Pine Lakes (PL) General Description (Pine Lakes was the co-host, but we did not get to see any of their facilities)
    1. 14 acre lake. This is not a typo, it is 14 acres.
      1. Electric motors only on lake
      2. 1 mi around lake
      3. 39 homeowners, all on lake
    2. Founded in 1964
    3. Major activities
      1. Golf cart poker run
      2. 4th of July Fireworks
  1. Pine Lake Revenue Sources
    1. Dues
      1. $600 per lot with a house
      2. $120 per vacant lot
    2. Selling Timber
      1. Last two years, $30K and $15K
    3. Restaurant and Bar
    4. Bingo cards.  $36K revenue last year after all expenses were paid including property taxes on the building and property used for ticket sales, and employee wages.  One person paid to operate Gambling.
    5. Associate Members for swimming, $50/couple/year
    6. Campground rental space, $840/year
  1. Membership, three types
    1. Members, owning property
    2. Swim associate members
    3. RV Campers at the campground.
  1. Amenities
    1. Playground
    2. Swimming pool
    3. Bar and grill
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Roaming Shores, OH
November 18, 2017, 7:04 am
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