Meet Mike McGee

In 2016 the Association entered into an agreement with HOAMCO to take over maintenance of the Village. In May of last year, HOAMCO hired a maintenance company, Mountains Best Landscape owned by Mike McGee.

Mike has been in the landscape business in Tucson for over thirty years and at one point had a staff of more than one hundred employees. He sold his company and retired ten years ago, then opened Mountains Best Landscape in the White Mountains in 2014.

Business has grown exponentially ever since its inception! Mountains Best Landscaping provides landscape maintenance, artificial grass and sod, irrigation installation and repair, paver patios and driveways and much more.

Mike is married with three grown children, four grandchildren and one more on the way!  He enjoys golf and off-roading during the beautiful summer months.

Mike and his capable staff have done an excellent job maintaining the Village common area. Mike is a valuable asset to the Village and we are excited to have Mountains Best on our team.

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New Places to Spend Time

Image result for bocce ball imagesThose of you already in the Village might have noticed activity near the clubhouse. There have been backhoes and dump trucks and workers everywhere.

The developer remodeled the horseshoe pits. The concrete was removed from the pit areas and replaced with railroad ties. In doing this, the pit areas were expanded and are now regulation size.

A bocce ball court is currently in the works. It should be complete in a few weeks. It will have benches, lights and a scoreboard.

Please give a shout-out to your Advisory Committee as these projects were brought forward by them. The bocce ball court was done without raising monthly dues.

She Said What?! The Truth About the Sewer Plant

Rumors1There is yet another rumor floating around the Village. This one relates to the sewer and it has nothing to do with “flushable” wipes (metaphors notwithstanding). This rumor concerns an assessment and some are insisting that the statement was made at the Annual meeting.

It is true that the City of Show Low has expressed interest in acquiring the Village sewer lift station. The City has done an initial inspection and has asked that some things be done so that the lift station complies with City requirements. This has been an ongoing negotiation and the Board has been preparing for the transfer.

In 2015 the Association foreclosed on Lot 30 in Unit 4 for non-payment of dues. The declarant had a mortgage on the lot. This meant that the Association would have to make payments on the lot until it was sold. However, “the declarant forgave the loan as a contribution to the Association to help with the costs to prepare the sewer pressure line and lift station for City acceptance”. This statement came directly from the 2016 Annual Meeting packet under 2015 Accomplishments. If you look at the meeting packet for the 2016 Annual Meeting or if you review the 2016 Annual Meeting Questions and Comments, nothing of this nature was ever said.

It is also true that there have been expenses to maintain the pumps as has been stated here. If you missed that, please refer to “Let’s Talk Dirty – As In Sewer” and “Toilets or Your Money – Pick One”. These costs are related to ongoing maintenance and have nothing to do with preparing the sewer pressure line and lift station for City acceptance. Associations levy assessments when there is an emergency and not enough money to cover it or when the Association has not collected enough over the years to build an adequate reserve fund. Neither of those things is in play in the Village.

The rumor that the Association will be assessing $50,000 (or any amount, for that matter) to prepare the sewer for City acceptance is false. You will only be paying for ongoing maintenance, which, incidentally, is in your budget. Remember that rumor mongers only derive pleasure when someone believes them. Rumors should be flushed down the toilet along with other detrital material.

Then and Now – The Same but Different

Image result for change imagesIt is a fact that when the last lot in the Village is sold, the developer will turn over control of the Association to the Members. However, even a crystal ball doesn’t tell us the exact date and time that will happen. The Board decided it would be beneficial to begin to transition sooner rather than later so the change would go smoothly.

Maintenance of the clubhouse and common areas contain many moving parts so the Board made a decision to tackle that project right away. The Association entered into an agreement with HOAMCO to take over maintenance of the Village. This process took some time and in May of this year, HOAMCO hired a maintenance company, Mountains Best Landscape owned by Mike McGee.

What does this mean to the residents of the Village? The Board makes decisions concerning Village assets such as the common areas, clubhouse and roads. The management company, HOAMCO, and, more specifically, Sherry Watson, implements those decisions. One decision was to use an outside maintenance company for the Village. Sherry’s job was to hire the maintenance company and manage the maintenance process. In other words, the Board hired a management company and the management company hired a maintenance company.

Again, what does this mean to the residents of the Village? Prior to May of 2016, residents made complaints and suggestions by contacting employees of the developer. That process is no longer effective as no one employed by the developer is handling operations of any type concerning the Village common areas and clubhouse.

The contact for any and all issues concerning common areas and the clubhouse is Sherry Watson at HOAMCO. She can be reached by phone 928.537-1067, ext. 1404 or by email at swatson@hoamco.com. Sherry’s hours are Monday through Friday 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.  She is often out on property or attending meetings. However, Sherry will respond to your call or email as soon as she is able.

The Board recognizes that change can be confusing and frustrating. However, this is a positive step for residents of the Village. It’s a huge stride forward in taking over the management of your assets. When the time comes, your elected board members will have a process that does not involve the developer.

With change comes a new way of thinking and doing things. As we transition through this process, your patience and cooperation is greatly appreciated. If you feel something needs attention, don’t hesitate to contact Sherry, realizing that most issues can be addressed in a timely manner. However, “timely” doesn’t necessarily mean same day. The maintenance company has a schedule and will deal with items as soon as is practicable. Sherry Watson and Mike McGee are valuable assets to the Village and we are excited to have them on our team. Thanks so much for your help and understanding as we all move forward.

Yellow is the Color of My True Love’s Hair, In the Morning, Till She Bathes …

valveThen it’s red! Rust in household water can be disconcerting, annoying and aggravating. If you’ve experienced it, welcome to the club that includes – well – almost everyone. Iron, frequently in the form of rust, is commonly found in residential water systems everywhere, including Vacation Village.

When my wife, Liz McCarty, asked me about the “problem” of rust in water, I was all too happy to climb on my chemical engineer’s soapbox and talk about it. I’ll spare you the details I gave her lest I put you to sleep like I did her. But I’ll be happy to summarize my comments.

Yes, rust in the water can cause problems. However, if these were the worst problems you ever faced, your life would be a paradise. If you see rust in your water, don’t wash your light colored clothes unless you want a light pink tint to them. There can be a slight odor to the water if the source of the rust is long standing, rust laden sediments that have been stirred up due to a maintenance operation or an inordinately high water flow such as that caused by fire hydrant testing. An iron related bacteria can give the water a bit of an “air” that may be slightly offensive.

With that said, you can now go back to listening to Judy Collins sing about hair color. There’s nothing more to worry about. The fact of the matter is the odor and the bacteria that caused it are completely harmless to humans. The rust itself is also completely harmless. In fact, it’s probably beneficial. Remember, people spend lots of money on iron supplements. Just have another glass of water.

When Liz broached the subject to me, I asked to see a recent water test report for The Village. As I perused the report, I found every measure of water quality under the sun … EXCEPT iron content. The reason for this is that the scientists who concern themselves with water quality are confident that iron (rust) in drinking water does NOT present any kind of health hazard. There is no reason for concern other than pink underwear and that’s Joe Arpaio’s problem.

So what can you do about the non-problem? You can install a high priced filter that is only somewhat effective, expensive to maintain and offers more frustration than it averts. The best approach to reducing iron in the water is to simply let your water run so that any suspended iron from disturbed sediments flows down the drain. Actually, it would be better to fill your watering pots with it; your plants will thank you. Letting your water flow for a minute or so is especially beneficial if you haven’t run your water for an extended period of time or if you know that the water system has undergone a major maintenance operation recently.

In reality, the best approach to having small quantities of iron or rust in your water is to put a smile on your face and not lose any sleep over it. Maybe you can even cut back on the number of iron supplements you take. You might just jump in the shower and sing to your heart’s content without giving the water a second thought.

Speaking of singers, wouldn’t “Rusty Waters” be a great name for a blues singer?

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

Residents should be concerned about where their Association dues are being spent and whether the Board is sensitive to controlling expenses. The Board has a responsibility to keep dues as low as reasonably possible while at the same time providing the management and services necessary to safeguard homeowner’s investments. That duty also requires that we collect enough to cover all expenses and build a healthy reserve. How do we make decisions about curbing costs? Some things are within our control; some are not.

We are able to negotiate certain services and can contract for a year or more at a time. This is helpful during the budgeting process. However, other items must be considered based on what we believe the cost will be for the coming year. An educated guess is the best we can do.  A cursory look at the budget will reveal some of those items; utilities and common area repairs to name a few. When considering snow removal, we know how much per hour it will cost, but we don’t know how much snow will fall. We do our best to anticipate, based on past experience, how much such items will increase or decrease. It’s rare that an expense will go down.

Our insurance policy runs from July 1 to June 30. Insurance is an interesting animal. Every year our broker asks for quotes from at least three companies. This allows us to compare and choose the best policy for the least amount of money. However, if the Association is involved in a lawsuit, insurance companies will not consider insuring us. This means we have to pay the price our current carrier quotes for the coming year. Believe it or not, most suits against homeowner’s associations are brought by its own members. I’m not sure if they realize they are spending their own money to defend the suits, but that is the nature of the beast.

What can you do to help control Association expenses? Recently a resident suggested a pay-for-use system for the showers similar to charging for use of the washers and dryers. However, the charge for the machines is to cover repair and replacement, not water or the cost to heat it.

Pick up after your dog. If you don’t, maintenance will. However, the company adjusts costs every year to account for how much time they are spending “grooming” the Common Area.

If your idea of “winterizing” is to leave your water running all winter, you are adding to rising costs in two areas. The City of Show Low charges for every gallon of water that runs through the Association’s meter. They use that same number to calculate the sewer bill which means YOU are paying for your neighbor’s unwillingness to winterize properly.

A complaint HOAMCO often hears is that one of the dryers is not working properly. The appliance technician is contacted and HOAMCO is told the dryer is fine. The resident placed too many clothes into the machine so it was taking longer to dry. The Association is charged for the maintenance call and you guessed it, the amount we have to budget for the next year increases.

A few other suggestions to help curb costs:

  • Think twice before threatening your Association with legal action, especially when more efficient and civil approaches are readily available. Any time legal advice is necessary for the Association, you’re footing the bill. This also puts the Association at the mercy of its current insurance carrier that can’t refuse to continue insuring us but can and does raise rates.
  • Leave clubhouse fans on. The fans circulate air helping to keep the clubhouse warm during winter and cool during summer. Opening windows and doors adds to costs in two areas; electricity and extermination.
  • Turn lights off in the clubhouse.
  • Place trash inside, not in front of or on the side, of the dumpsters. Don’t put items in the dumpsters that don’t belong there. Someone has to take care of what you don’t and it’s not free. Neither is dumping large items on other parts of the development.
  • You are probably sick to death of hearing this one, but here we go again. Items that don’t belong in the sewer can be very expensive.
  • Replace broken sewer caps on your lot. This will prevent debris from entering the sewer lines and traveling to the lift station. They can be purchased from Ace Hardware or HD Supply.
  • Last but not least, slow down and drive responsibly to prevent an expenditure on bigger speed bumps or a large payout to an injured resident or visitor.

These are just a few suggestions to help curb costs. If you have additional thoughts about what residents can do, please don’t hesitate to post them in the comments section below.