This month’s message to the homeowners is a mixed bag of good and bad news.
First some sad news. Christina Whitney, our hard-working and supremely talented Property Manager has decided to move on to a new phase in her life and has submitted her resignation. It was a shock to the entire Board and I can personally say I have lost sleep over this, but we can only wish Christina and Glen (her husband, our irrigation vendor and all around good guy) the best in their new life. She will be missed by all of us.
With the help of FSR we are looking for candidates for the Property Manager position and will be interviewing in the next couple of weeks. Meanwhile, Carmen will be in the office to assist you with anything you need and Kimberly Kresge, FSR Regional Manager, will be in the office part of each day doing all the paperwork that is necessary to keep the community running. The Board is also committed to making sure all runs smoothly. We hope you will be supportive and understanding during this transition.
More bad news – as you all know the main clubhouse pool is still out of service. As we explained at the last Board meeting, it was discovered after the pool was already filled that the old plaster surface had failed and was not adhering to the new plaster. This was leaving air gaps between the two surfaces and eventually the new surface collapsed. Since we wanted to get the pool open ASAP, we decided against finger pointing with the contractor and found a solution that makes sense. The contractor is taking out the old and new layers of plaster all the way down to the original concrete surface of the pool, then putting new plaster on that. The agreement we reached was that the Master Association will pay $10,000 for the additional cost of taking the pool down to the original concrete. There actually was a clause in the original contract that called for us to pay that same $10,000 if they had taken it down to the concrete before putting the new plaster on. The contractor is absorbing all the rest of costs for the plaster, new tile and additional labor. We felt this was a good deal for the community under the circumstances. We don’t have an exact date yet for completion of the project but we think it will only be a few more weeks.
Good news – the pavilion project has started – but with some surprises. No one realized that the original concrete pool deck was underneath the pavers since pavers are usually placed on sand. This must have been done during a previous renovation to the pool. So we do have to take out the concrete before we can actually build the pavilion, but you will be seeing progress soon.
As for activities, the Easter celebration was a huge success. We had a large number of children attend and it was great fun for all ages. We have one more Food Truck Friday for May, then we are taking a break for the summer. We hope to see you there!
Now for a tough subject to discuss – late HOA dues. We all make mistakes and miss a payment once in a while, but every community has a few people who either can’t or won’t pay their monthly dues. In our community, payments are due on the first of the month and considered late on the 15th. A $25 late fee is added to the account if the dues have not been paid by the 15th. The Florida HOA laws are very specific on how late payments and late fees can be handled and we follow all regulations. But if your account goes up to $1000 overdue, it gets sent to a collection agency. By the time the account gets to the collection agency the amount due includes late association dues, late fees, interest and administrative charges. The total amount can grow very quickly. We can and do file liens against properties with larger balances. The association will get their money if the property is sold because we have a claim on the property. But if we have someone with a large balance who is not paying and ignoring the notices from the collections agency, Florida law says we can foreclose on the home. Obviously this is a drastic measure that isn’t taken lightly as no one wants to take a home from the homeowner. If we foreclose the association gets the account balance paid, which is not just dues, late fees and interest but also attorney fees, and the buyer gets the house. In our community of about 820 homes, we only have a handful of outstanding accounts. But we want you to be aware that we are keeping a close eye on these accounts and are going to be more aggressive about collecting the money that is due to the association. It is simply not fair to the majority of residents who pay their bills on time and the association needs those funds for our budget.
Finally, a word about the wildlife in Reflection Lakes. We had a report a couple of weeks ago about a bobcat and kittens in Tradewinds. We have several bobcats that are regularly seen in our community and that’s a good thing – they keep down the rodent and other animal pest population. We called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and they basically said to leave the bobcat alone and it will be gone soon. They are very afraid of humans. As you know we get large alligators in our lakes and we will call FWC to have them removed since they can be dangerous. Just be careful and don’t ever let a person or animal go into any of our lakes. We also have so many other types of wildlife here. I personally have seen bobcats, coyotes, otters, raccoons, armadillos and opossums in my yard (along with the ever-present rabbits and squirrels). I currently have an Eastern Screech Owl living in the tree outside my window and I could go on and on about all the different types of birds we see and all the reptiles. The point is that we live in an area with so much amazing wildlife and we need to co-exist. If you ever have questions about what to do when you spot a wild animal here, you can call FWC or call the office and they will assist.
I hope everyone has a great month as the days get hotter and hotter and we will see you (and hopefully some rain) in June.
Lori May, President