Should we use a collections agency?

Unfortunately, we were not able to get everything to fall into place to have a Board meeting tomorrow. We are now trying to reschedule for August 23.

One of the items on the agenda for the next meeting is whether or not we should contract a specialist collections company to recover unpaid association dues. Approximately 40% of the houses in our community are behind with their payments. This does represent some improvement from around two years ago when closer to 50% of houses had unpaid balances but the total amount of unpaid dues is higher than ever at $360,000. To put this in perspective our annual budget is under $250,000.

A specialist collections company would track down non-payers and discuss payment with them. The collections company would report non-payers to credit reference agencies when appropriate and, as a last resort, would proceed with foreclosure. Collection fees would be charged to the debtor and there would be no cost to the HOA unless we decided to foreclose; then we would pay the foreclosure fees up front and recover them from the debtor when the house is auctioned.

We have received a detailed proposal and contract from a company called S.M.A.R.T Collections and the Board will vote on whether to accept the contract at the next meeting.

If you have comments about this, please feel free to have your say in the comments section below.

HCSO patrol

Detective Graves is patrolling Lakeside this afternoon. He is in uniform but his car is unmarked. If you have questions for the officer or information you think is useful for law enforcement please feel free to wave him down – his slow moving Crown Victoria with spotlight should be obvious.

Trees and Next Board Meeting

Our property manager will carry out an inspection of the neighborhood on Monday, July 7th. She will be concentrating on identifying trees that need trimming. Lakeside’s rule is that there must be 8 feet clearance over sidewalks and streets. This is a safety issue because untrimmed trees make it harder for drivers to see road signs and pedestrians. We are also in hurricane season and untrimmed trees are more easily blown down. Please check your trees this weekend.

We wanted to have an evening Board meeting in July – but it has not been possible to get a date that works for all Board members. It looks like the next Board Meeting will be on Saturday July 19th at 9:00 am – but I will confirm nearer the date.

Notes from Saturday’s meeting

There was not the required quorum of three Board Members for the meeting planned for Saturday 5/10. Sam Clues was out of the country and Vanessa Moorhead had noted the wrong date. The people present at the library were:

  • Cory Mallory (property manager)
  • Carol Noble (board member)
  • Robert Alderson (board member)
  • Bob McNamara (Chair of the ACC)
  • Greg Noble (Neighborhood Watch)
  • Pat Forss

Because there was no quorum there was no official meeting, however the people listed above did stay to discuss the items on the agenda. This web post is based on my personal notes about what was discussed. I have also highlighted and numbered some specific questions which the Board should decide on by e-mail voting. I encourage you to provide your input through this website.

Lighting at Symmes Lake Dr. entrance – Resident José Anibal Rosario has researched a solution to the problem of poor illumination of the front entrance sign. He proposes adding two small LED lights on the wall immediately below the sign (i.e. behind the bushes.) He estimates the cost would be around $500.

#1: Does the Board agree that Cory should start getting quotes to do the work described by José Anibal Rosario?

Retaining Wall – We have received one quote for just under $12,000. We will continue to look for other quotes.

Access to the Lake – The gate from the rear park to the lake is locked for safety reasons because it does not stay closed properly. Robert suggested making improvements to the gate (concrete pad for stability, gate with a high latch to prevent small children using the gate.) If agreed we could get this done by the company who does the retaining wall work.

#2: Does the Board want to get quotes for this work on the gate between park and lake?

Lighting at Front Park – Robert has contacted TECO to get a quote for a streetlight at the front park. We are waiting for an official quote but the cost will be around $500.

Tree trimming – Cory will review quotes already received and work with Bob McNamara to determine which trees need work.

Foreclosure review – This was discussed at length. As property values recover it may now be a good choice for the HOA to foreclose on owners who owe substantial amounts to the Association.

Neighborhood Watch – As previously agreed, the HOA has purchased two “trail cameras” to monitor HOA owned property. These cameras have been deployed. Images are checked periodically and will be deleted as space is needed for new images – only images which show damage to association property or other crimes will be retained.

HCSO patrols – Robert requested Cory to prepare the paperwork for the Board to give him the authority to write checks to pay the deputies. Payments are currently made by cash and reimbursed to Robert by check. This is placing a burden on Robert’s personal finances and complicates record keeping. Robert also reported that he would like to give Deputy Brandon Parker “first refusal” on future patrols. Deputy Parker’s normal beat includes Lakeside so he is already familiar with the neighborhood. By working closely with a small number of deputies we make it easier to get deputies at the time and place we request. Robert also wanted to work together with Greg Noble to identify a second deputy to get joint “first refusal.”

#3: Does the Board agree that Robert Alderson, as Secretary Treasurer, should have the means and authority to write checks to pay for off-duty HCSO deputies to patrol our neighborhood in line with our budget for this year?

#4: Does the Board agree that Deputy Brandon Parker should get “first refusal” on future patrols?

Standardized signs – We have a sign at each park detailing the rules, but those signs are faded and difficult to read.  Robert offered to create the wording for new signs and a general design approach for all our signs as they need replacing (i.e. all new signs should have a standard Lakeside logo.)

We also have a sign at each park stating “Private Property – No Trespassing.” Although this is technically correct it is confusing and not very welcoming for residents – who may not realize that they part own the property and are not trespassing.

#5 Does the Board agree that the Secretary/Treasurer should design new “rules” signs for the two parks and standardized designs for future signs and get quotes for the two new “rules” signs?

#6 Does the Board agree that the “Private Property – No Trespassing” signs should be removed from both parks and that the “Neighborhood Watch” sign provided by the HCSO should be erected at the rear park?

Parking rules – Robert commented that many residents are breaking HOA rules by parking on the grass. However, in many cases parking on the grass could be less dangerous than parking fully out in the street. He suggested that we allow parking with two wheels on the grass if the homeowner puts down pavers or similar to protect the grass and gets ACC approval for the parking space. This should be discussed at a future meeting as resident input is very important for this.

Contact with other HOAs – Robert wrote to the Lakes of Cristina HOA about sharing HCSO patrols but got no response.

Neighborhood cleanup – Residents expressed their frustration at owners who have habitually untidy yards and driveways. The Association does have the general power to go on to owner’s property and carry out work. On her next inspection, Cory will note addresses where this might be a good idea.

Collection of HOA dues, interest – Robert met last week with Unique property services about charging interest on past due balances. It was decided that there were too many legal and technical issues for this to be workable at present. The idea of using a collections company was discussed – the Secretary/Treasurer will continue to gather options for consideration by the Board.

Next meeting – Vanessa Moorhead suggested (after the meeting) that our next meeting be at the park in the evening and that we cook up the pack of hotdogs which was not eaten at the Community picnic in March. This would be a good opportunity to connect with residents who do not have Saturday mornings free.

 

Errors on Member Balance Statements

We have learned of an error on approximately twenty members’ balance statements that were sent out in the past few days. Some recent fines for leaving trash cans out were added to the wrong member addresses. Our property manager has identified the cause of the error and is working through the corrections. If you received a balance statement in the past few days and it contained a fine which you were not aware of, please contact the management company.

Click here to contact the management company

Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this error caused.

 

 

Police Appeal for Information about Burglary in Lakeside

During the evening of Friday March 21st, there was a burglary from a house close to the intersection of Lakeside Vista Dr and Shasta Ct. Two suspects entered the house through the master bedroom window and stole video gaming systems. The suspects apparently placed the gaming systems in the victim’s blue recycling bin and left the scene rolling the recycling bin along the north side of Lakeside Vista.

Detective James Howell with Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is asking for your help tracking down what happened to that blue recycling bin. Did you notice a blue recycling bin looking out of place? Has an extra recycling bin appeared on your corner?

If you have any information about this burglary or the blue recycling bin, please contact Detective James Howell on 813-393-9866.

Fishing

Some of you may have noticed that law enforcement were in attendance on Symmes Lake Drive this evening. The Deputy attended because of a complaint about fishing by non-residents and fishing using nets. The Deputy asked for an official of the HOA to join him to clarify the HOA’s rules. The Deputy gave a warning about fishing with nets as this contravenes state law. He also advised two Rivercrest residents that Lakeside is a separate community and they are not allowed to fish. The Rivercrest residents left without incident.