Special Assessments, Governing Docs & Unspent Funds

Chapter 718.116 is very specific on the use of Special Assessment funds.  On Jan 1, 2014, VLC had a $109k Special Assessment, or $730 per unit on top of the dues increase from $818 to $1,005 quarterly.  For some here, this was not a big deal, for others?

Copied from Chapter 718.116 is the section regarding Special Assessment funds:

(10) The specific purpose or purposes of any special assessment, including any contingent special assessment levied in conjunction with the purchase of an insurance policy authorized by s. 718.111(11), approved in accordance with the condominium documents shall be set forth in a written notice of such assessment sent or delivered to each unit owner. The funds collected pursuant to a special assessment shall be used only for the specific purpose or purposes set forth in such notice.

However, upon completion of such specific purpose or purposes, any excess funds will be considered common surplus, and may, at the discretion of the board, either be returned to the unit owners or applied as a credit toward future assessments.

What was the breakdown of the Special Assessment? Of the $109k, $40k was for settlement of a breach of contract lawsuit from Schindler Elevator, parking lot paving, $10k for flowers, etc.  No one told the owners that the lawsuit settlement had been agreed to with 18 monthly payments and the burden of assessing the full $730 did not need to be collected in one payment.

As of Dec 2014, $40k remained unspent from this account.

The VLC meeting minutes from  Dec  3, 2014 include a vote to transfer the funds to roof cleaning, painting and elevator reserves.  Yes,  VLC needs to increase its reserves for painting and the elevators. As for the roof cleaning, we hope the tiles will remain secure.  But this is not the point, is it?  Does a Board need to operate within the Statutes, Bylaws, governing docs, etc or not?

The former CAM, Lucia Stiles from Sentry Management was listed as present and may or may not have advised the Board that Special Assessments are to be used for the SPECIFIC PURPOSES as explained to owners or returned or credited to “owners”; not moved to another project or reserve.

I asked one BOD member about this transfer and whether it was legal to do so and was advised that it was a good use of funds and that the Board has decided it will ignore me.  I was also advised that the Board would like it if Jim and I sold our unit (not happening in our natural lives and there are 7 kids, 2 spouses, one fiance’ and 2 grandchildren and the family continues to grow) behind us.

Another BOD member once described VLC as a “small community”.   Whether there are 150 units as we have or 1,500, the purpose of the governing statutes is to provide protection for all owners with guidelines that should be followed.   Board members are required to certify in writing that the have a working knowledge of the governing documents.  4 of the 5 present had served for almost one year, or more and should be familiar with the use of funds that are OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY. (opm)

The Board member whom I asked about this transfer did not see it as a problem. The response was that everything is going well financially, our reserves are growing, the prices are rising (economic recovery is a natural process after the 2008 crash) and I don’t care about Van Loon. ?????????  Um, we bought here in 2005 and as Jim often says, “we’ve seen ’em come and we’ll see ’em go”.   We cannot see how wanting the Association to operate in the open and under the governing documents which are equal to ALL owners, equates to not caring.

Jim and I do not attend social events here.  We formed many friendships throughout the area when we first began staying here in what was a ghost town in 2007 and 2008.  Each time we visit, our dance cards are full.  Not attending group dinners, coffees or outings does not equate to not caring.   Also, caring is a feeling and has nothing to do with adhering to statutes.



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