Lake board votes for phased-in dues increase

Lake board votes for phased-in dues increase

Homeowners will decide in June

By Heather Michon, correspondent

The Lake Monticello Board of Directors took the next step toward a potential dues increase during its regular meeting Thursday (Jan. 24) night.

Following an open work session earlier this month, the directors settled on asking Lake Monticello Owners’ Association (LMOA) members for a $180 dues increase beginning in 2020.

At Thursday’s meeting they voted to approve a proposal for that amount, but after some discussion, amended it to phase that increase in over a period of three years.

The original proposal requested an annual increase of $180, with $50 a year allocated to the roads reserve fund and $130 a year going to the maintenance, repair, and rehabilitation (MR&R) fund.

In a discussion after the motion was read and seconded, Director Tom Braithwaite asked if the $130 for MR&R could be split into three increases of approximately $45 year spread out over three years.

Director Larry Cormier then asked if the whole amount could be phased in over three years, saying that it might be more comfortable for members.

Braithwaite questioned if failing to increase the roads reserve fund by the full $50 a year beginning in 2020 would cause issues. Director Marlene Weaver responded that “we’ll be fine for three years with the reserve.”

“So this is a marketing activity?” asked Director Mike Harrison. “Make the blow softer to the community?”

After further discussion, the board voted unanimously to ask the membership for a $180 annual increase “to be initiated over a three-year period.”

The board will also be asking members to vote on a separate $50 increase, charged annually, to fund the food and beverage operations at The Pub and Lakeside Restaurant. If approved, each lot holder will receive a $50 certificate to use at either restaurant each year.

“We’re in a very unique situation here,” said Director Bing Spitler. LMOA is designed so that members control the dues, and over the past 40 or more years “the members have pretty closely held the dues into a very low level.”

This lack of consistent funding over the decades led to the deterioration of the community, which required significant funding over the past four years. Now that the community is more up to date, Spitler said, “we can look to the future and say, ‘What do you want the community to look like?’”

Failure to keep up with funding means “we’re going to deteriorate right back into the same situation we were in four years ago,” he said.

“I think we’re all seeing a situation where people are wanting to come into this community and as they want to come into this community, they’re paying increased prices on homes because this is a desirable community,” Spitler said.

During public comments, a resident stated that county property values had increased 5.4 percent and the Lake only 3.4 percent, according to a report he read in the Fluvanna Review. The directors did not respond, as is typical during public comments.

About 40 members of the community turned out for the meeting, which extended over three hours and included reports on the Lake’s deer population and several small changes to bylaws.

The next step in the process is a series of town halls to make the case for a dues increase and collect feedback from the community. The board will vote on a finalized proposal in the spring. Members will vote on this issue and the results will be counted at the annual meeting June 29.

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