By Tom Blakeman, October 17, 2021
What Went Wrong in Hot Springs Village?
The basic problem here lies in how our governing system is set up. It was based on a developer-controlled board for the developer’s benefit. Keep in mind this is NOT saying the developer is/was bad. That’s how it is always done and we need to all thank Cooper Communities for the legacy they created. But, the developer is mostly gone other than the land they still own which comes with extra votes.
Much worse is the structure set up in our declarations. It is similar to all large developments set up by developers’ lawyers for their benefit. Many, in fact, most, similar developments have changed their inherited developer structure once the developer is gone, to fix this problem. HSV has not. One example is that some 15,000 non-residents get an equal vote compared to some 9,000 residents (who have much, much more invested and actually live here). This is even though, through misguided past leadership, currently residents pay twice as much – just 6 years ago. And thru mismanagement, that infamous “Two Tier” windfall is mostly long gone. Keep in mind there are some 36,000 total lots and some 10,000 or so are in default (not paying) or are owned by the POA.
Another example is that the board is only 7 members, and we currently have only 6. Good decisions derive from multiple inputs and thinking. Why not 11 members? Or 15? Why not even 7? (It is because rules – changeable by only the BOD by the way – don’t require the BOD to make it so).
And why don’t we pay those BOD members a stipend to help acquire the best and brightest and most qualified? Nobody knows.
Another is the “hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil” bylaws which prohibits any board member from voicing any contrary opinion to a board vote once done. This enables unanimous voting and a lack of debate both before and after the fact.
Then there is the blatant non-Democratic issue that we have no diversity of representation. All parts of this Village are different with widely differing property values, lifestyles, and economic wherewithal. The only requirement to be a board member is they be a property owner. Who do you think generally gets on the BOD? And what about these elections to raise assessments? The homeowner living in a million+ dollar home on Balboa, gets the same vote as the widow on social security living in an $80K townhome, as does a $500 (or worthless) lot owner who lives in Timbuktu. Who do you think gets on the board and who gets the best representation? Who puts up the Vote Yes signs? But, guess who pays more in assessments? Actually, the poor widow does because she has to pay a mandatory additional assessment for basic necessities such as getting her trash hauled and grass cut. Obviously fair, right?
And then there is the issue of parity in amenity fees. What we have here is something like 80% of the total property owners carrying the load (through ‘subsidies’) for the 20% who actually benefit from all the amenities such as golf and lakes. How much does POA lose on golf every year? How much does POA spend on dredging every year? How much have we lost on (and continue to lose) on restaurants which cater to those with extra coin in their pockets? Who does it really benefit? Go figure. And Vote NO!
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