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Errors in Interpretation (Water Rate Increase Issues)

posted Aug 21, 2011 13:46:30 by JessiA
Throughout history “man” has continued to struggle with interpretation of the laws, rending various opinions on the definition and/or intent of how a word or phrase is used. We as a board struggle with interpretation as well. It isn’t always easy to make the “right” decision for the community and try to hold true to the Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws and DCCRs (Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions). We try to keep an open mind as people approach us sharing their opinions, concerns, and their own interpretations in regards to what the HOA board should or should not do. So let’s begin with a simple interpretation:

What is the “sole function” of an HOA?

After researching this question online, the answer varies greatly. One definition was “The purpose of a home owners association is to provide a common basis for preserving, maintaining and enhancing their homes and property” another definition was “The main function of an HOA is to govern the common areas of a neighborhood, such as the parks, pools, roads, etc.” These are two distinct and varying definitions. And these two definitions can also be interpreted many different ways.

So what is the sole function of our HOA? Per the Articles of Incorporation of Forest Bluff Residential Community Associations, Inc., “The Association is formed for the specific purpose of administering the common affairs of all of the owners of “the Property,” (know as Forest Bluff, Sections 1 – 5, a subdivision in Travis County, Texas). So what is the definition of “administering the common affairs of all the owners”?

With the above definitions, should the FBRCA consider using HOA funds to give a monetary donation to the water rate fight? Or is this an individual homeowner issue and funds should be raised by the community through individual donations?

The interpretation isn’t as simple as one might think. But let us take it a step further.

If the FBRCA considers a donation to fight the water rate increase, isn’t it the FBRCA’s responsibility to ensure that the money donated is being used for the purpose in which it is intended? Who is the money going to? Is the money being kept in a separate account and not being co-mingled with other funds? Will we receive a detailed monthly report which accounts for money collected and where the money is being spent?

As of today, our community is 43% paid current.
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4 replies
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JessiA said Aug 22, 2011 22:52:43
Personally I was all for giving money for the cause. But after recent events I am re-thinking my position. I need more information on who the money is going to and how the money is being handled. Until I am provided with the information I cannot make an informed decision.
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AndyViteo said Aug 22, 2011 23:08:48
I would also like to see where the money goes. As far as I am concerend I would like to see the HOA do more to pull the community together to fight the water increase before we the HOA starts to ask for donations. Holding more meetings, squashing ideas like "well the HOA does nothing as it is now, why should I sign a petition," these are two areas I'd like to see happen.
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gbruce1 said Aug 25, 2011 19:08:33
As a homeowner in Forest Bluff my interpretation of the definitation of an HOA is the first one; The purpose of a home owners association is to provide a common basis for preserving, maintaining and enhancing their homes and property. I believe that is inclusive of all the other definitions. When people look to buy in this subdivision and see the outrageous water rates, they are going to go elsewhere. This lowers the value of my property, which right now is bad enough. I would like to see our HOA be more active in this fight. Just what does our HOA believe their responsibilities are?

What recent events are you referring to? I'd like to know what made you "rethink you decision." Have you asked where the money is going, if it is being kept separately? Surely, someone would be able to answer these questions.

I also would like to see more meetings held to keep us up to date on what is going on, what decisions the board is making or have made.

As far as the "well the HOA does nothing as it is now why should I sign a petition", that's been the attitude of many people in Forest Bluff from day 1 about everything, not just the water rate issue. What these people don't seem to understand is that if they sit around and do nothing, they hurt not only themselves but everyone else in Forest Bluff and are lowring the value of their homes. It's kind of like my mother used to tell me "You cut off your nose to spite your face."

I've been here 6 years and there are still many problems that need fixing in Forest Bluff and I hope that some of these problems will be taken care of in the future. Right now my main concern is the water rate increase.
Personally, I would have no problem donating if asked. This fight concerns the future value in my home and my finances.
"Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring --it was peace"--Milan Kundera
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Forest Bluff New said Aug 26, 2011 11:19:13
I do want to thank those who have taken the time to read and post comments. One of the things we are severely lacking in our community is participation. Too many people sit back and expect others to do the job. A 4 or 5 person board cannot do everything for the community of 385 homes. The need for special committees to be form is necessary to build community within Forest Bluff.

When you say " I would like to see our HOA be more active in this fight." I am hoping you are referring to the Homeowners as a whole and not just the board. Members of the board were out there knocking on doors and obtaining signatures. We actively participated in the rally and provided copies (we did not use HOA fuunds) of all the fliers, petitions and letters that were distributed.

We just attended a board meeting of another HOA to learn there is so much going on in the Hornsby Bend area then just the water fight. There are bonds that will be in this coming election that need approval to help with much needed road widening.

To be honest with you in regards to more meetings. We seem to be having a little bit of a challenge in that area. A few members in the community feel that if the board calls a meeting we need to give the homeowners 15 days written notice per our bylaws. This would cost the HOA $160+ dollars every time the board decides to have a meeting to update the community on water rate issues or other issues within the community. We strongly feel regular meetings are much more personal and meets the need of the community, but the HOA cannot afford this expense. We are working towards a solution.
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