Monthly Archives: August 2014

Fees, Dues, Special Assessments and “Betterment Fees”? 4,900 this year!!

By now, you should have received your most recent, additional “contribution” and the analysis of last year’s water shortage. Only $16,835.90 short last year……..that may be close if there were only 339 days In a year, as used for the “Van Loon 2013 Water Report” mailed.

The basis for the 2nd 2014 “Special Assessment” is a $20 per month charge for each of the months in 2013 you were not present, and not billed water/sewer usage, therefore didn’t share in the fixed charges by the City of Cape Coral, referred to as Capacity charges.  What are Capacity charges?  All dwellings, single or multi family have a fixed charge per month for the access to water usage and sewerage processing, whether used or not. Sort of like paying for having the pipes there and maintained, or similar to the LCEC charge, with or without usage. ($15 for LCEC presently).  The fixed costs divided among the 150 units, equal about $21 per unit.

( VLC Association pays the full water bills to the City, and then collected from each unit using a billing company, which sent the reimbursements to VLC Association)

What is true is that when VLC installed sub-meters, the bills were set up that the fixed costs were divided among only units which had water/sewer usage, in each building, each month.  So, if 10 of the 15 units were occupied in a billing month, the 10 shared the $330, or approximately $33 per unit plus their water, and sewer. (Water is billed on a per unit amount/sewer based on the water billing).  If 15 had billings, each unit’s bill included capacity and usage.

Units with zero usage received only an administrative bill of $4.21 which was the $3.75 earned by the billing company for mailing them and collecting payments, and postage. Was this a fair division? No. If zero units were occupied in a building one month and no usage, would there been any reimbursement to the association? Doesn’t seem so. Was there ever a month that only 5 units had usage and each paid $65 plus usage? Maybe.

As the meters began to fail transmitting readings, less and less units were being billed more than $4.21.  The other units in the building whose meters continued to transmit, shared the fixed costs. Two board members at the time, Marguerite Kisner and Pam Decraene shared in the free water, kept the situation from other owners calling it “board business”, refused free replacement of all meters in Nov 2013, and did not want accurate billings corrected. Ms. Kisner was aware of the unfair allocation and shared the information only with other board members, but not all owners. The allocation could have been corrected with the billing company, simply by resetting the billing software. That would be if she were actually concerned with what was good for the association and not receiving free water. By keeping this information to themselves and not having the meters repaired, they were increasing the bills of all neighbors with usage.

One neighbor who rented in 2013 in our building, with the Kisners (1137) told us of receiving a $225 bill in June 2013, when very few were present. Hmmmm. He was very clean….

So, the fixed costs were covered for each building by the unlucky owners who were present and had usage. Your neighbors who were not present, were not trying to deceive anyone nor if not on the board, knew of the allocation problem. (again, easily changed). Your neighbors who had failed meters, and especially board members who had the responsibility to correct the problem may not have understood the higher math as described above, but definitely knew their bills shouldn’t have been $4.21.  To have kept it quiet was as dishonest as knowing you got an extra $20 in your change from the high school kid, and not giving it back.

We received a bill for $100 for this Water Calculation, supposedly representing 5 months of not being present or billed usage. Others have received $140 or more.  That is for only fixed costs.

Question: The association with the board including Pam Decraene has paid about $10,000 since January, related to the water amendment’s legality. Last notice in June 2014 that I am aware of (and will share soon) from the honorable Richard Deboest, Esq., was that the water amendment was illegal since he was not given proof the rights of the unsold or foreclosed units from Dec 2010, had been taken away. (more on that, the vote of taking rights away from non paying units took place Feb 2014)

No new legal counsel was sought and the board is in limbo on how to proceed. So, if the amendment is not legal, then how can you bill anything?

And, we want a refund for all payments made under the illegal amendment, going back to the beginning. Or, why assess the $20 of unfair allocation from June 13. Why not go back to June 11? (for those who still own). See the problem? This is another Special Assessment because we are in a deficit, though Special Assessments don’t look good for values. I asked board member Brenda Hallihan about the basis for this, if legal or illegal has not been established.  Her response was that this was NOT a Special Assessment and directed me to a page from the City of CC water department, referring to “Betterment Fee”.  Maybe we can rename all our payments betterment fees. I like the sound of it. Better.

I continue to say; the reserves are deficient, the budget was improperly prepared, and the year end is coming. Ask why the actual financial reports are not posted each month. Actual income and expenses on a Cash Basis, so owners can assess throughout the year our financial status and prospective owners can determine if they want to purchase at VLC.  “OPEN AND HONEST” communication. It is what Rick Aliperti and Brenda Hallihan claim to support.  Money where the mouth……….