SLW Property Owners Facing Hefty Dues Increase


Insider Reporter

Seven Lakes West property owners are facing as much as a $514 increase in annual dues, under a scenario presented during a recent “town hall” meeting.

The presentation, conducted by the Seven Lakes West Landowners Association’s board of directors, spelled out several ongoing budget issues that showed a significant drop in the association’s reserve accounts, as a result of costly repairs and upgrades to the Lake Auman dam.

According to the presentation by board treasurer Jim Greaves, money set aside for road repair and paving within the community was needed for the dam, primarily for an emergency spillway and drain, as required by the state.

For the 2021-22 budget, the reserve fund dropped from $2.7 million to $538,433, according to the presentation. In addition, the emergency reserves — a fund to pay for three months’ expenses — dropped from its threshold of $600,000 to $360,000.

Replenishing those reserves and refunding the savings account for road repair are expected to require a significant dues increase in the next budget, according to the presentation.

Greaves presented two scenarios to the approximately 100 property owners attending the meeting in person and online. The first scenario, which would add $1 million back for road repair, would increase dues $398. A second scenario restoring the road fund back to its original $1.2 million would require a dues increase of $514.

That latter amount is a third more than the $1,550 in annual dues property owners now pay. That is collected from 1,714 dues-paying lots.

Greaves said the association has been busy on a number of big-ticket capital projects, including improvements to Johnson Point, the community center, community landscaping and some road repairs.

“There’s a lot more to be accomplished and it’s going to take money to do that,” he said.

But news of another potential large dues increase — dues increased $250 this past year — upset a number of property owners who attended the Aug. 30 meeting.

Resident Joanne LoSapio said she was aghast that the board authorized continued funding of non-essential expenses, such as improvements at Johnson Point.

“Roads are a priority,” she said. “Expanding the beach was not.”

Resident and property owner Paul Brezinski, reading from a prepared statement, said that “due to the consistent failure of the board to oversee the finances of the HOA, SLWLA is one costly emergency from bankruptcy.”

“The Board has yet to acknowledge any mistakes of any kind and/or hold anyone accountable for making them,” he said, “and it is costing us, the dues paying community, financial or otherwise.”

Dan Lambert, who oversees the association’s dam committee, said the money spent repairing the Lake Auman dam was critical to keeping the lake operational. Failure to make the improvements could have led the state to order the lake be drained, he said.

“They have the right to do it,” he said.

The problem with the dam repairs, board members said, was a price escalation in materials and services. Original estimates of about $400,000 soared to more than twice that because of inflation and a shortage of materials.

“We had no idea how much it was going to cost,” Lambert said.

The board has several high-dollar projects on the table, including an expansion of the community mail house, whose 1,120 mailboxes are now fully leased. That project and a few others may face indefinite delays if funding isn’t available, newly installed board president Josh Davis said.

“There’s different ways we can skin the cat,” he said. “We’re just trying to get all the information on the table.”

Davis said he understood property owners’ frustrations and pledged to be transparent with the finances.

“We’ll go back,” he said, “and get more information and come back to you.”

Another town hall-style meeting is planned for November. The board expects by then to have a clearer picture of the budget and reserve accounts.