Not all happy with proposed increase

HRCA needs two-thirds lot vote to pass budget

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The Highlands Ranch Community Association finance committee earlier this month approved what would be the largest assessment increase since 2003 if it gets approved this November by the HRCA’s delegate body and board of directors.

And while the organization’s directors each support the budget — one that would increase assessments 6.3 percent, raising the bill for residents $32, or $2.67 per month, to $540 annually — not all of the delegates agree with the call.

The board met with delegates Oct. 15 in a heated meeting that saw a few delegates arguing that the increase was not justified. More than a couple used the argument that the economy was in bad shape and that residents could not afford the increase at this time, despite recent reports that have shown Douglas County’s unemployment rates have dropped to 5.6 percent and home values are skyrocketing.

Fifty percent of residents don’t even use the facilities, so those that who don’t are subsidizing for the rest of the community that does, argued District 89 representative Suresh Damle. District 84 delegate Scott Poulson argued that the increase was nearly four times higher than the hike in the Consumer Price Index for last year.

“So we should not give any consideration to prior years where we had no increase where there was a CPI increase,” asked HRCA controller Harry Daughters of Poulson. “We could do that but we are going to shortchange the future again. Right now our surplus would cover one month of operations. ... We could kick this can down the road again, but that is irresponsible for a community association to do that.”

Finance committee chairman and HRCA director Jeff Suntken pointed out that if the association aligned its annual budget with the yearly CPI, assessments would be a lot higher than what they currently are or are proposed to be.

“Over the long term, we’ve done better than that historically,” Suntken said, adding that for the last three years assessments were held in check despite CPI increases.

Because the association is proposing an increase that exceeds the previous year’s CPI, however, it requires a two-thirds vote of the delegates, which could be another issue at getting the budget passed. In order to gain that vote there would need to be close to 21,000 lots represented in a yea vote in November, and only 17,000 lots were represented at the October delegate meeting, meaning even with unanimous support — which there was not — it would not have been approved.  

There was discussion at the ensuing board meeting later in the night about staff  coming up with a new budget, but the decision was passed down to hold and vote on the current budget as it was proposed, and supported by the finance committee 8-2.

“I think this is the right budget,” said Scott Lemmon, HRCA board chairman. “Whether we get it passed or not, I’m concerned about getting enough delegates to the meeting to pass it. We need to have a budget passed this November, period.”

The proposed budget is available in its entirety at www.hrcaonline.org

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