Candidates discuss assessments, amenities

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The five-member Canyon Lake Property Owners Association Board of Directors are collectively responsible for the management and operation of the CLPOA’s business affairs. The board members are elected for staggered two-year terms.

Two of the five seats are up for election on May 10 when the two-year terms of Paul Queen and Dale Welty expire. In the order they will be listed on the ballot, candidates are incumbent Dale Welty, Dudley Thompson and Jim Barringham.

In the weeks leading up to the election, The Friday Flyer will feature a series of questions to the candidates. During this period, residents will have a chance to hear directly from the candidates and learn what they hope to accomplish if elected to serve a two-year term on the CLPOA Board of Directors.

In this second installment of questions for the candidates, The Friday Flyer invited them to answer the following question in 500 or fewer words:

Question: Member dues subsidize several revenue-producing amenities in the community. Is the amount Canyon Lake property owners pay overall reasonable? Are there specific subsidies you would like to see reduced? If so, what would you try to do to help those amenities support themselves?

Dale Welty

I believe that we would like to see all the subsidies of our income generating amenities reduced. The primary income generating amenities are the campground, equestrian center, restaurants and golf course.

The campground requires the least budgeted subsidy of $30,000 and with the campground remodel and upgrade we will likely see the campground subsidy reduced further.

The equestrian center has a budget subsidy of $92,000, there are a number of open stalls that could be rented. The POA recently upgraded the sand base in the arena that provides a better footing for horses; other improvements should be done to the equestrian center to attract more horses to rent equestrian center stalls.

The restaurants have a budgeted subsidy of $563,000. While the subsidy is large, we have been seeing significant improvement in the financial performance of the restaurants over the last year. Anticipating continuing improvements, the budgeted subsidy for the restaurants this year has been reduced to $382,000.   Our restaurants have the best views of any restaurants in the area. We should expand outside dining facilities by adding shade, heating and misters.

The golf course has a budgeted subsidy of $968,000. Next year’s budget has been reduced to $747,000. There is a belief that if we raised the annual fee to $3,000 this would generate thousands of dollars of income for the golf course. In the past, fees were increased but the increase failed to generate any additional income. Analysis of the last 12 months of golf play last year indicates that increased fee was most likely going to reduce the number of rounds played and the golf course income.

To decrease the subsidy to the golf course we need a strong marketing plan to attract more Canyon Lake members and outside memberships. In 2016, the POA and members of the golf community began an aggressive marketing campaign to attract annual outside memberships to Canyon Lake. The original $2,400 annual rate brought in an over 40 members. A recent study indicated there are a number of golfers in our area that may have an interest in our golf course memberships.

The size of the subsidies is primarily going to be determined by the participation of community members themselves. Reducing the subsidises gives us an opportunity to keep our POA assessments down and to dedicated funds to invest in our future so we can ensure Canyon Lake stays a first class community.

There is also an Advisory Vote on the ballot this year that will allow the members to choose a more all-inclusive fee structure for community amenities. This idea was brought forward to the board by one of the board of directors. The board has placed this on the agenda to see if the community would support this fee structure change.  While this change would significantly increase the members’ use of our subsidized amenities, I do not believe this fee structure change is something the board should do without clear support from the members.

Dudley Thompson

One definition of amenity is, “In real estate, an amenity is something considered to benefit a property and thereby increase its value.” That certainly applies to amenities in Canyon Lake.  Two major amenities, the lake and the golf course, are prime examples of an amenity benefitting property value. And if not properly maintained, amenities can have a negative effect on property value.

Amenities, or lack thereof, are one of the factors that differentiate communities. In Canyon Lake, our membership assessment subsidizes our amenities. Security is our largest subsidized amenity, followed by the lake, golf course and our two restaurants. Other amenities include multiple parks and beaches, swimming pool, Little League fields, tennis and pickleball courts, equestrian center, campground, dog park, basketball courts, landscaped roadways, meeting rooms and probably more that I can’t think of. We get all of this for about $250 per month.  Our neighbors in Tuscany Hills, Canyon Hills, Audie Murphy and other nearby areas pay $150 to $200 or more per month for green belts, a park and a pool.  I truly believe the amount Canyon Lake property owners pay overall is definitely reasonable.

The majority of our amenities are not revenue producing and are not designed to be so. We don’t have fees to use the parks and beaches, swimming pool, tennis and pickleball courts, dog park, entry gates, lake and others. Some, such as the golf course, two restaurants, campground, equestrian center and boat slips, have historically generated revenue, although perhaps not enough to support themselves. The question is, do we expect them to support themselves?  Or are we willing to subsidize these amenities to enjoy the benefits they bring to the community and property values?

I believe that our amenities must be managed efficiently and properly, and if fees are charged, the fees must be competitive in the marketplace and the remaining subsidy should be shared by the entire community.  Managed properly is a key component. I am proud to say that as a member of the POA Finance Committee and Green Committee I have worked to implement projects and develop a fee schedule that is projected to reduce the current golf course subsidy by over $200,000 annually. Reducing subsidies does not always mean raising fees. Better use of amenities can go a long way in reducing costs.

I will also be focused on improving existing amenities and developing new ones that will enhance our 50-year-old community. Youth-oriented amenities, like the proposed pump track and splash pads, would be great additions. Attention to the lake to ensure healthier and cleaner water by appropriate dredging and an erosion control plan are important to protect this existing amenity. And certainly, the rehabilitation of our roadways is a must.

I want to put my experience and energy to work on behalf of all of the Canyon Lake community and I will be focused on making Canyon Lake “A better Bit of Paradise.”

Jim Barringham

As a homeowner, I believe our current board has done an excellent job in building our reserves, maintaining our fees and enhancing our amenities. That being said, we should always be looking at ways to economize our operational cost as well as our amenity cost for our homeowners, without giving up quality.

We are lucky to have so many amenities in our community. We do not want to lose any of our amenities. Finding ways to economize, we will be able to add other amenities to our community without increasing the POA dues.

Two amenities I find troubling are the Lighthouse Restaurant with a projected loss of $187,248 and our Country Club with a projected loss of $194,976. The subsidized cost for these two amenities for next fiscal year is projected to be $382,224. How can you sell food and drinks and not (at least) break even? I believe our homeowners have the right to know why. If elected, I will do my best to find out and work on lowering these expenses and at the same time improving the quality of food and service. When you look at these kinds of subsidies, in 10 years that calculates to a loss of $3,822,240 without inflation. Just think what our community could do with almost $4 million in enhancing our “Little Bit of Paradise.”

The golf course subsidy has been looked at for many years. The subsidized cost to our homeowners next fiscal year is $747,072. There may be some cost-saving to be found. If we were to review all the contracts and perhaps put them out to bid we might find some savings. Most golf courses are dealing with rising cost and declining membership. The only solution, I believe, in reducing this subsidy is to increase the number of golfers that play at our beautiful golf course. Although I am not a golfer, I would personally like to work with the golf community on building a plan to reduce our golf course subsidy. I believe getting input from our community is very important as we work together in achieving this goal.

If elected, I will represent all the homeowners. I promise to use my business background to help identify problems, find solutions, protect all our great amenities and keep our association fees affordable for all. Do you believe our current POA dues are reasonable?   I would love to hear your thoughts and concerns about the costs associated with our amenities and your POA dues. Concerning the all-inclusive Advisory Vote on the ballot in the upcoming election, I do not support it.

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