To all Manors at Deer Creek Residents,
As Trustees of our Homeowners Association, we want you to know that your voices have been heard on the recent questions and concerns about the HOA finances. We want to, not only respond to your immediate questions and concerns, but we also want to actively work towards enhancing communications and community involvement for all residents. Your fresh perspectives, participation and ideas will play a crucial role in making our community an even better place to live.
In order to keep costs to a minimum, we have never explored the use of an HOA Management Company, but instead, the Trustees have done all of the many duties you see listed in the Trustee Tab of the HOA Website. We have now decided to explore various options, including partnering with an HOA Management Company to ensure efficient and effective management and also to solicit additional resident volunteers to help us. However, please be assured, we will only undertake the use of a Management Company if this is a prudent financial move for the HOA. We encourage you to share your thoughts, suggestions and any interest you might have in volunteering by emailing us at any time.
Now, to answer some of the most recent concerns and questions regarding the HOA finances
There have been numerous questions recently pertaining to the finances of our HOA and the actions taken by the Trustees on the legal action the HOA was involved in and the establishment of the 2023 Assessment that we would like to address very directly to clear up any confusion. First, to the questions on the recent legal action, the following information was posted on our Facebook Page and on the HOA website, but as a matter of background, we would like to first explain why the Trustees decided to pursue this action, and then reshare the original post. The text of the message is below, but first we would like to share a few facts as the Trustee see them and as the Indenture states. They are:
- The primary duty of the Trustees is to preserve the property values of the community and we take that very seriously and always strive to be good stewards of your assessment funds.
- In March of 2015 the HOA received a one-time extraordinary income of $30,384 from the County of St. Charles for the sale of a portion of our Common Ground to complete the Deer Creek Dr. Extension. These funds were deposited in our working account and gave us a significant cushion to forego any assessment increases and well as to provide us with adequate reserve funds in the event of unexpected expenses.
- In mid-2020 a resident applied for and was granted approval for a fence, which was constructed in violation of our approval. Upon learning of this, we engaged in dialog with the resident and sent numerous letters hoping to resolve this issue amicably. Ultimately we were unsuccessful and by agreement by all three Trustees made the decision to engage legal counsel. As you know from the previous communications on this matter, we did not prevail in court, but continue to believe we were in the right. This action was taken for one reason and one reason only…to preserve your property values. If we ignored this issue, we believe that a precedent would have been set for anyone to install a fence or for that matter any architectural modification that would significantly detract from the beauty of our community, and thus your property values.
- Since its inception over 18 years ago, the HOA Assessment has remained at $200 annually. In large part, the one-time extraordinary income of $30,384 from the County of St. Charles for the sale of a small portion of our Common Grounds has enabled us the reserves to offset rising costs. With the legal expenses we recently incurred we no longer have reserve funds. Additionally, as you can see from the 2022 YTD financials, our income from assessments totaled roughly $28,000 with expenditures (net of legal expenses) at $29,500. In short, our expenses exceeded our income by $1,500. This, plus rising costs for insurance, landscaping and the anticipated legal costs to amend our Indenture to allow for Solar Panels as dictated by Missouri law, the Trustees felt it necessary to pass through the least amount of increase we felt necessary for the HOA’s income to match the expenditures. This is the reason for the assessment increase from $200 to $250 annually.
- As to the rights and responsibility of the Trustees to increase the assessment, the Indenture is very clear. Any “Special Assessments” require a vote of the residents. The operating budget is not a special assessment, it is ongoing operating expenses. The Indenture states the Trustees are required to establish an annual assessment by taking into consideration all anticipated items of expense, including reasonable replacement and other reserves based on the budget. We unanimously decided that the minimum increase we could pass on was a prudent action to take.
Text of the recent post
One of our residents requested approval for a fence to extend 10’ from the rear corner of their home, which is a deviation from the Indenture rules. The Indenture states, fences cannot extend past the rear corners of the home. After review, the Trustees granted a deviation and approved the request. The actual location of the fence installed, however, was 40’ from the rear corner of the home. Once the Trustees learned of this, the Trustees endeavored to resolve the discrepancy with the resident. The Trustees tried for several months to resolve this matter amicably without success. The resident refused to comply with requests to remove the fence and install it per the approved deviation. This left the Trustees with the difficult choice of ignoring the issue or pursuing legal remedy. By unanimous vote, all three Trustees decided to seek legal remedy.
After multiple attempts to obtain a summary judgement, to limit the HOA’s legal costs, the case went to trial. The Trustees provided reams of documentation and also testified. The HOA’s attorney exhausted all efforts, but in the end the judge (Dwayne Johnson) ruled against the HOA. This litigation cost the HOA over $40,000, which came from your assessment funds. We do not know the legal cost incurred by the resident.
Everyone has good reason to be upset and even outraged by this event. It was a huge loss to the HOA. Your outrage should be directed to:
1. The resident who violated the Indenture by constructing a fence in violation of the approval.
2. The biased judge who ruled against the HOA, not the Trustees.
The Trustee’s difficult decision to pursue this matter legally was solely to protect your property values.
While the Trustees had several very difficult financial decisions to make this year, we can assure you that we did not take these decisions lightly. We put your best interest first before anything else. We have worked very hard to preserve your property values at the lowest possible cost to the Association, but acknowledge that we can do a better job of communicating to our residents and commit to do just that.