Landowners Consider Dues Increases 

Sunset in Seven Lake North. Ted Fitzgerald/The Pilot

By Maggie Beamguard

Insider Editor

The annual meetings of the Seven Lakes West Landowners and the Seven Lakes Landowners Associations in March will reveal not only the newest board members for those communities but also how homeowners voted dues increases.

Both gated communities have been through extensive budgeting processes driven by their respective finance committees since last fall. The processes are similar but not exact, including working with key committees and sharing information in public forums before finally presenting a budget to the respective boards for approval.

Seven Lakes North and South will see the larger dues increase at $100 if approved by a majority of voters. Seven Lakes West residents are considering a $34 increase following several years of sharp increases — $276 for the 2023-2024 fiscal year and $250 for the 2022-2023 fiscal year. 

Seven Lakes North And South

Heather Guild, SLLA board president and Amber Johnson, SLLA treasurer, report that overall the budget for this last fiscal year of 2023-2024 has gone very well.

“Despite continued inflation, we expect the operating budget to be within 1 percent to 2 percent of target. Through December 2023 we have a net favorable of $38,000, with income outpacing expenses. Unrestricted, restricted, emergency reserve accounts are well funded,” Guild and Johnson wrote in a joint annual letter to SLLA residents. 

Their statement provided further information about the outlook for the 2024-2025 fiscal year beginning May 1 and unpacks the recommendation for the $100 dues increase. 

“This recommendation came with much deliberation and consideration for the pressures we all face with price inflation and wage/fixed income stagnation. The reality is that SLLA is a jewel, and we want to keep it that way,” they wrote.

“Home values in the SLLA have risen between 70 percent -100 percent over the past five years. One reason this has happened is that we look after our buildings, grounds, roads, lakes, dams and amenities. The $100 dues increase reflects a 7 percent increase to the total budget:

  • The $100 increase will maintain current pool, stables and yard debris hours of operations. It will also maintain our current level of landscaping, buildings and grounds maintenance and security coverage. Lastly, it will include $10,000 for the July 4 Fireworks display and celebration.
  • If the $100 increase does not pass, all the services and activities noted above will be reduced to cover the projected operating budget shortfall of $60,000.
  • $40 of the $100 increase will specifically cover 3 percent inflation across employee salaries, contracts, office supplies, repair and maintenance materials, and vehicle repairs and maintenance = $60,000 total.
  • $60 of the $100 increase is to build our Restricted Reserves account. This account pays for major paving and road work projects and state mandated dam repairs = $91,000 total.”

Unlike Seven Lakes West, the SLLA does not fall under the state’s Planned Community Act, which means that the approval of the increase requires only a majority of those homeowners who vote by March 22 at 5 p.m. The results will be announced at the annual meeting the following day. 

Under the Planned Community Act, unreturned resident ballots are essentially counted as “yes” votes, which makes it a little easier for dues increases to pass.  

Seven Lakes West

The small increase in dues proposed for SLLA members falls substantially below the Consumer Price Index, according to SLW Board President Jack Roberts.
“The budget for the 2024-2025 fiscal year that was approved by the board was presented in a town hall meeting and questions were answered by leadership. Specific budget increases or decreases were included in the presentation.”

That budget presentation is available for members through the association’s Town Sq. application.

Roberts said the board’s budget priorities were “to maintain or improve our services and amenities while keeping dues increases to the minimum. The overall increase is much lower than what was projected by the previous board.”

Speaking to the long range financial goals of the board, Roberts said, “First and foremost, it is our fiduciary responsibility to serve as stewards of our members’ money. The long-term financial goals adopted by this board were identified in the 2018 Strategic plan. Using the strategic plan as a framework we established a goal of ensuring economic viability by proactively maintaining or improving our infrastructure, physical assets and the amenities that make SLW a great community to live in.”

There are specific projects currently underway, according to Roberts, including improvements and the addition of mailboxes and parcel boxes to the mail house, the redesign of the back entrance, road and stormwater upgrades, solidifying security and increasing budget reserves.

“As a result of the board’s prudent oversight, our committee leadership and adherence to SLW’s fiscal controls and policies, the general financial outlook of SLW is strong,” said Roberts.

He further shared that the major budget items are estimates of the expenditures that were developed through a collaborative effort led by the finance committee and SLW’s committee leadership.

“Over the course of the next fiscal year, our committees will provide detailed documentation of specific project requirements, bidding and final contract awards. This information is available to our membership through our monthly financial reports and quarterly strategic focus updates.”

Contact Maggie Beamguard at