How did we get here?
Here is the no B.S. reason we need to raise the HOA fees. (without all the scare tactics)
When I first got on the board of directors, the past president Gene Keusch talked to me about issues I should be aware of.
One of the issues was the current state of disrepair of the village. We discussed at length how things need to be fixed. Gene also admitted to me, “I’m just as much at fault as the proceeding board members. For all these years we didn’t want to be stuck with high HOA fees, so we kept the fees down.” He told me that it got to the point where they had no choice but to raise them because they were always financially in the hole.
Gene admitted that it was a mistake, and that the village was in bad shape because of it.
This all by itself explains why we are in the predicament that we are at Lake Helmerich.
Villagers want to live in a private, gated, lake front community, but they don’t want to pay for it.
And because of this going on for so many years, the village has had to always, "Make do".
That is why for the past 20 years, repairs were always jerry rigged.
To be honest, it’s not the maintenance department’s fault that the village is in the shape it is in. It’s the previous boards that did not want to pay higher HOA fees.
The maintenance budget was never quite enough to be able to properly maintain the village infrastructure.
Kevin appeared to have gotten used to having to save money wherever he could. Wait till it breaks, when it breaks… find a dollar store solution to make do for a while and hope that it doesn’t break again.
I give him credit; he kept things going and did it with little money. That explains why he was always the first one to tell you how he was always saving LHV money. How this place wouldn’t be here without him. He was right. He did save us money in some ways. But that doesn’t help us now with the looming costs of having to rebuild an aging community. Fixing it right the first time appears to be something we couldn't do.
It was not his fault that the previous boards mismanaged the fees. (I don’t mean to lump everyone that has been on the board into this), but it seems that those in power failed to properly fund the community because of their own personal pocketbooks.
Now, we are still at a crossroads.
LHV has always had just enough money to barely maintain the property... but never enough to properly repair the things that needed to be repaired. Not to mention grow. It costs money to repair things that were not properly maintained. It costs money to grow.
When I was on the board, our goal was to have the proper equipment, and to save money in order to start attacking necessary, long overdue repairs. To make improvements. To do things differently than the past boards.
But it was not enough. Hell, it was barely a start in the right direction.
We all want better pools, better fishing, wider pothole-free roads, security. We want our home values to increase. But we don’t want to pay for it.
So, let’s look at it in the context of HOA’s around the country.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey estimates. Jul 18, 2022
Typical HOA membership fees for single-family homeowners in a Gated community is $200-$300/month. And monthly HOA fees average $170.
This does not include the fact that this is a Lakefront Community.
The average lakefront gated community is paying closer to an average of between $200 to $400 per month in HOA fees.
When you look at their communities, they have beautiful roads, a clubhouse, gorgeous grounds and facilities. They even have a security guard who probably makes sure your Amazon packages arrive at your house.
Granted, we don’t necessarily need to go that far, but we need to start somewhere.
I would be ok paying $1,200 to $1,500 a year as a homeowner. And increase it slowly to $100 more each year, if we find we will need it. But cap it at no more than $150 per month for the next 10 years after that.
As for lot owners, I personally believe we need to be gentle with them. Their fees should go up slightly to start. Later down the road when we have our community back to what it should be, then raise it a little more. I think capping them at $400 a year down the road is doable (maybe a little extreme) but... it's an easier pill to swallow when the fishing is amazing again.
If you are a homeowner here, and you have extra lots, I think you should actually not have to pay the lot fees of an extra lot, as long as they are attached to the home’s property.
So, if your house is built on 3 lots, you will not have to pay fees for each separate lot. That seems very greedy and more of a money grab by the HOA. It’s not really fair.
I think that there should be future discussions about lot owners being allowed to combine 2 properties right next to each other in order to be able to build a home on it. Without having to pay for a homeowner fee and a lot fee.
Which means larger HOA revenues.
That means more money for improvements and upkeep.
I believe that would entice more people to build homes.
I can hear certain people screaming right now. I believe someone shot Cheerios out his nose just now.
We don’t want more people; we don’t want growth!
People hate change, that's a given.
My response is…good luck with that. LHV needs to grow, no matter what you want.
But if we leave it the way it is, we won't be able to afford to go after everyone that will dump their lots on us. When we can’t sell them because there is no benefit to being a lot owner. Then we are going to be in trouble.
People do not realize that the majority of our budget’s money comes from lot owner fees.
I'm not saying we are in financial trouble. I don't believe we risk losing our services. The snowy roads WILL get plowed. All is not lost!
But the big picture is that we could have nice roads. Our streets paved for some of us that have waited forever. Wonderful fishing, a real toilet divider with a door and showers with hot water and not through a hose. Dams that are safe and well maintained. A park with decent playground equipment. Etc. Etc.
Come on... there are enough smart people here… we should be able to find a way to manage growth and be able to still sell lots and build houses.
Don't freak out on me... These are just one person’s ideas.
While on the board, we entertained ideas of a campground, a club house, some in the village wanted to have a horse stable and riding paths.
We planned for a new park behind the Pike pool.
We planned to clean up the back of the maintenance shop. With fenced in area to hide the equipment and dumpsters.
So send me your ideas!
We can start a “Blog of Ideas.” Then when the board reads this…which they do. They might have an AH HA moment.
This isn’t brain surgery.