Newsletter – January 2012

     The annual membership meeting of the Crestlake Homeowners’ Association is scheduled for Thursday, January 19 at 7 p.m. at the St. Joseph Township building. The reason for this letter is an invitation to this meeting and to give a brief summary of the past year plus future plans.

2011 Accomplishments
     Our number one priority as an association is pond and commons maintenance. While some Crestlake residents may not feel they utilize the ponds, the hard fact is that the ponds are crucial for drainage for our entire area. Without these ponds everyone would have ground water issues so everyone has a vested interest in the up keep of these ponds.
     2011 saw the second phase of the remediation of our ponds come to completion. We are on track to repay the five-year loan which financed this project without the necessity to increase Crestlake Homeowners’ Association dues at this time.
     Last year the Crestlake Board of Directors approached the St. Joseph village board to explore the possibility of the village taking control of the ponds and all Crestlake maintenance. Whereas our ponds are an integral part of the village’s storm water retention system, we were told that legally this could not be accomplished. Therefore, it is the sole responsibility of the Crestlake Homeowners’ Association.
     The frequency of Crestlake board meetings has been reduced to quarterly meetings with the completion of the 2011 pond project.
     We hired Puzey & Wright LLP in Ogden to manage dues collection, closing letters and monthly accounting reports.
     We continue to organize our annual Halloween Parade and social events during the year.
     Neighborhood Watch – Members of the Neighborhood Watch committee continue to work to keep our neighborhood safe. The eyes and ears of all your neighbors are one of the best insurance policies to keep the Crestlake area safe and secure. Additional help is always welcome as well as new ideas to get more people involved.  We are short a few block captains and welcome your participation.

2012 Plans
     Budget – We have been able to stay within our budget without increasing the annual dues of $150.00. There are several factors that will determine whether a dues increase will be needed. Details outlining some of those factors will be discussed at the annual meeting. The primary areas that impact your dues are collection and member participation on the board of directors.
     Dues Collection – There are additional expenses that the association is responsible for when it comes to delinquent dues collection – legal fees, increased accounting expenses and managing the business of the association with fewer funds. While some of these expenses are recouped through the legal system, we are seeing an increase in bankruptcy and being forced to wait for resolution, some of which have taken several months. For example, this year we have been forced to take legal action on nine association members for refusal/inability to pay dues. The association has to operate with less funds and more legal costs. Our income is fixed and when others do not pay their fair share, we will be operating in the red in very short order. All other funds collected in the process go to processing and attorney fees. A legal precedence has been established whereby the Crestlake Homeowners’ Association will ultimately prevail through the court system. At last count the nonpayment of dues equated to a cost to the delinquent homeowner in excess of $700 of which your homeowners’ association receives near the original amount of the $150 dues and in some cases, nothing at all. As we all should be aware, this process is costly not only to the delinquent association member but your homeowners’ association has less funds to operate and we must maintain a fund to pay the growing legal fees. The only winner in this whole process is the legal system.
     This leads to the second area that impacts our expenses – member participation.
     Member Participation – Your current board has members that have served since the homeowners’ association was reestablished. The terms established at the first organizational meeting were two board members elected to three year terms and the remaining board members were elected to two year terms. These terms alternate so we will have continuity on the board.
     The bylaws of the association state we have to maintain a board of directors with certain officer positions (in order to retain our tax exempt status) and provide liability insurance for the ponds and commons areas. Without meeting these requirements, insurance being the most critical, each member of the association is personally financially liable in the event of any tragedy on the ponds or common areas.
     All current and past members of the board of directors have personal responsibilities, just like every Crestlake resident which is also a member of the association. All current board member terms have expired, some several times over due to lack of members stepping forward to serve on the board.
Should the board continue to operate shorthanded, the reality of the situation is in order to fulfill the legal requirements and to protect you as a Crestlake homeowner, the hiring of a management company may be warranted.
     We have already started to investigate hiring a firm to completely manage our ponds, the estimates are quite large. That expense will have to be passed on to each homeowner. A conservative estimate for this additional expense would raise everyone’s dues 20-30%.
     If you as an association member step forward to serve on the board of directors, we should be able to hold dues at $150.00 through the calendar year of 2012.

     We invite all members to attend the annual meeting to discuss board business and work towards our common interest for the benefit of everyone in the Crestlake Homeowners’ Association.
     Thank you for your time and attention. We look forward to seeing you on Thursday, January 19 at 7 p.m. at the St. Joseph Township building, just west of Kolb Park.

Crestlake Homeowners’ Association Board of Directors