Association mulls making errant fee information public

RANCHO SANTA FE — Warning. If you neglect to pay your assessment fees, your name could end up on a list in the post office or even in the newspaper. The Rancho Santa Fe Association considered the idea at its Feb. 16 meeting.During a discussion about the steps of collecting errant fees, Director Ann Boon suggested the names of the offenders be made public.

Director Anne Feighner agreed with the idea saying it is the Association’s “fiscal responsibility” to go after delinquent fees.

“It is appropriate to pursue our money like every other business,” she said. “Sometimes we act like we are not a business, but we are.”

Director Roxana Foxx disagreed.

“I don’t think we need to be that punitive. Usually people are not delinquent on purpose. It is usually because of dire circumstances,” Foxx said.

But Jack Queen, board president, said he believes that many times the Association is last on the list to be paid.
He said he has driven by the homes of some of the offenders and everything looks just fine and there are new cars in the driveway.

“People who get paid last are the people who don’t say anything,” he said. What prompted the discussion was the report to the board by Steve Comstock, chief financial officer, who had come before them requesting their approval to begin the next step in collecting delinquent fees for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

A list of the offenders was passed to the board while Comstock explained the homeowners listed had not paid their first installment, which was delinquent on Dec. 5, 2011.

“Despite several letters requesting payment of the outstanding Association assessments and warnings of the consequences of nonpayment, these property owners have failed to bring their assessments current,” Comstock said.

By being late, membership privileges will be suspended. Those with unpaid fees will not be allowed to play on the golf course, eat at the club restaurant, play tennis or take part in riding club activities. They will also be forbidden to run for any office or be on any Association committee.

“We find that to be a very effective collection tool,” said Pete Smith, Association manager.
Comstock said collection methods are polite, but aggressive, which culls the number of offenders before this action is taken.

The list of people who have not paid this first installment late last month was at 140. Now it is 39, he said.

If a person continues to default on assessment fees, a lien for the amount can be levied against their property, which means the outstanding money must be paid before a home can be sold.

The homeowner must pay for legal and filing fees.

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