Lake Monticello Board to aggressively seek unpaid dues

Contributed by Judy Fish

Inflation is the lead story on many news stations this week and it was no different at the Saturday (July 30) Lake Monticello Owners’ Association Board of Directors’ meeting. 

In his report to the Board, LMOA General Manager Tom Schauder shared a list of ongoing initiatives, including one to “identify revenue sources to offset inflation, rising costs of doing business.” 

While there were some ideas mentioned to increase revenue—even by Laker Devan Walding, who told the Board he and his friends would like to see the campground opened and some RV storage on the mostly-unused land—collecting money already owed to the association received the most attention. 

LMOA Finance Director Mike Warner reported that LMOA is going to go after unpaid dues more aggressively. He said that while “98 percent pay dues on time,” LMOA has recently written off some $733,000 in bad debt. He said LMOA has now turned over about $300,000 in uncollected dues to Chadwick Washington, a law firm that specializes in HOA collections. 

That law firm will begin sending letters to delinquent homeowners, who will then have 40 days to respond, Warner explained in his report to the Board, adding that next steps will include garnishing bank accounts and paychecks. He said LMOA has not previously so aggressively gone after unpaid dues. “We do intend to get this cleared up and we do intend to get people to pay,” Warner said.

 “We will be pursuing judgments, liens, garnishments and foreclosures to encourage prompt payments by the two percent of our members who do not pay their obligations,” Warner said. LMOA has historically offered payment plans to those who initiate them with the LMOA office. 

Warner also reported that pool labor (lifeguard pay) is more than double what the association paid two years ago and while “labor costs are up,” revenue is down “across the board.” 

  “Labor is up 21 percent and costs are up 30 to 40 percent,” Indigo Golf Partners’ (IGP) Carl Lasley told the LMOA Board, referring to golf and food and beverage operations. He said that while 2021 was a record year “in a positive way” with $209,000 in losses for food and beverage (F&B) and golf, this year he forecasts that deficit to be $400,000. 

Before IGP took over F & B, the combined losses with golf topped $650,000, LMOA Treasurer Jay Hinkel reminded his fellow board members. He said that while revenue is up in golf and F & B this year, expenses are up too. 

Lasley said increased outside golf play (from non-Lake residents) is helping offset the lower total number of golf rounds played. He said Indigo plans to “break down that wall of exclusivity” to help generate even more outside rounds. 

Earlier this year, Lasley said The Pub faced hiring challenges, but a “more attractive compensation package” has helped with staffing. He said his team is trying various methods of increasing revenue, while holding down costs. Those changes include making “slight adjustments to our menu,” opening up Ashlawn for food service to “open up a new revenue stream,” and looking at a different model for operating the pool next year.

 Starting Labor Day Weekend, Lakeside Restaurant at the Ashlawn Clubhouse will be open every weekend Friday through Sunday, Lasley reported last night, calling the move “exciting.” 

“This is the move to make for the long-term health of F & B,” Lasley said, adding that he knew when he first arrived at Lake Monticello that this would be the way forward. 

In other money business, the Board approved a Budget Calendar, scheduling 2023 Budget Work Sessions for Nov. 5 and Nov. 10. These sessions are open to all LMOA members. There will also be two open Finance Committee budget planning sessions. “There are four opportunities (for members) to see the proposed budget,” Hinkel said. 

The Board also approved the purchase of a gazebo for a “Golfers’ Lounge” for $3,000 to be taken from PTF (Property Transfer Fee money). The Board also approved some $28,000 (also from PTF) to buy and remove a foreclosed, abandoned house at 839 Jefferson Drive. LMOA plans to clear the property and resell it to recoup the money spent. 

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