Author Archives: gbundersea

September 9, 2019 – BIG Update!

It’s been awhile, since a LOT of stuff has been happening, so this is a very comprehensive update! Sit back, relax, and take some time to read this and catch up on everything.

1. Back to School Bash

Waterslide, tables, and lots of amazing food waiting for the guests to arrive.

Our Back to School Bash was held on Saturday, August 10, 2019 from noon until 6PM. It featured a bounce house and huge waterslide from Stafford Amusements, and GREAT food from Firehouse BBQ and Catering, Cafe du Jour at the Whistle Stop, LaShish Greek and Mediterranean Restaurant, and Days Smokehouse. We’re guessing that about 100 people attended, and everyone said they really enjoyed themselves and LOVED the food! That means a lot, as we really wanted to do it right, and give our residents something special. A few suggested some great ideas we hadn’t thought of, so look for the next Spring Lake party to be even better! We figured on spending around $1200-$1500 for the Bash, and it ended up costing a little more than $1500, but we have drinks left over, which will be used at the next event! So, even though we were focused on quality, not budget, the cost was right in line with our expectations.

We want to extend our deepest appreciation to a couple of people who helped make this event possible:

  • Jim Waid, who generously allowed us to connect a hose to his house for the waterslide. Without that, TONS of kids (and adults!) would not have been able to slide, splash, and have fun!
  • Joe Miller, who was kind enough to lend his big patio fan. It made a huge difference, and made the pavilion a lot more comfortable in the heat.

THANKS GUYS!

Look for another event to be announced in the not too distant future.

Speaking of events…

2. Pavilion Reservations

Remember that any Spring Lake resident can reserve the pavilion at the park for occasions like birthday parties, family reunions, etc. Just contact the board well in advance!
Those of you attending the Back to School Bash may recall that there was a nagging electrical problem at the pavilion. At a recent WONDERFUL birthday party held there by residents Jason and Marisol Duplessis, one of their guests was a licensed electrician. He saw the problem, ran to John’s Supermarket, and replaced the faulty parts, which were 2 GFCI outlets. So, that is now solved! The HOA reimbursed the cost of the outlets, and sends a huge THANK YOU for a job well done! That was a nice surprise, as we were about to call an electrician to go find and fix the issue.

3. Door to Door Solicitors

Recently, many residents got annoyed by representatives from Fox Pest Control, who were canvassing our subdivision. Some reported that the Fox people were pushy and didn’t want to take no for an answer. In any case, several residents asked about putting NO SOLICITING signs up. We thought this was a great idea, so we researched and found some high-quality signs that are reasonably priced. We ordered one for each of the 3 entrances, along with the proper mounting hardware. They will arrive this week, and will be installed right away. The total cost with shipping and tax is only $121.95! Keep in mind that restrictions only apply to residents, not outsiders, and it appears that Livingston has not yet passed an ordinance regarding door to door solicitation. However, just the presence of these signs should be a nice deterrent, and will let outsiders know that we do not want solicitors in Spring Lake. Here’s what the signs look like:

4. Parking in/near the Bus Turnarounds

At the very end of Fountain View and Springlake Drive, there are spaces for the school buses to turn around. Not long ago, residents noticed vehicles parked in one of those turnarounds. They spoke to the drivers, who said they were workers for the adjacent Whispering Springs subdivision being built, and wouldn’t park there again. However, they were back the next day, parked in the grass just outside the bus turnaround. A board member took pictures, including license plate numbers, and reported it to the School Board Transportation Department. They contacted the Sheriff’s Office very quickly. However, the Sheriff’s Office said that the NO PARKING signs there were not placed by a governmental agency, so their hands are tied. The School Board then started contacting people associated with the Whispering Springs subdivision. The person developing the “Spring Lake 8th Filing” immediately to our north (more on that later) called a board member. He clarified that the workers are there legitimately, installing an underground sewer pipe that will run from the 8th filing west past our subdivision. He said they definitely will not park in the bus turnarounds, but will be there on the grass. The board was able to confirm the sewer line work via Clerk of Court records, so that is legitimate.

So while they will not be parking there anymore, residents on the ends of Springlake and Fountain View can expect to see equipment working there over the next couple of weeks as they run this sewer line.

Also, we learned that the land just past the end of those 2 streets, including the bus turnarounds, does not belong to Spring Lake! The property line is at the end of the streets, along the north edge of the last lots there. So, even if those workers park on the grass, they are not trespassing.

We will be installing new signs at the bus turnarounds to make it absolutely clear to everyone that they are not to park or obstruct those turnarounds.

5. Whispering Springs Subdivision

(Written by board secretary and veteran realtor Greg Bunch. The opinions in this section are his own.)

While we had the developer on the phone, we asked about the new Spring Lake filing. As the Planning Commission had told us, he confirmed that it will indeed connect to Whispering Springs at its north end. So, in my opinion, Whispering Springs cheated and got a free entrance courtesy of us. Tom, our HOA president, recently sent me a link to an article detailing how the Livingston Parish Council implemented back in October two new ordinances establishing a minimum number of entrances for new subdivisions and mandating that they connect to existing subdivisions whenever possible. Until Tom sent me the link, I was not aware of this. Coincidentally this is about the time the Whispering Springs development was getting into high gear, so I strongly suspect that these new ordinances were custom written for them, at least to some extent.

The developer told me that supposedly DR Horton is going to build higher-priced houses in the new Spring Lake filing. I think he said it will be around 60 something houses at first, then a second filing with 80 something houses, for a total of about 150.

I have been told from multiple sources that when someone develops a new filing for a subdivision, they are not bound by the existing restrictions. They can set up their own, which it sounds like they plan to do. In my opinion the new Spring Lake filing is really just a part of Whispering Springs, and they called it Spring Lake simply to justify using our entrance. We met with our new attorney last week, and asked what if anything can be done about making sure that this so-called new Spring Lake filing is built to the same or better standards than the rest of our subdivision. The answer is, probably nothing. He said at this level, when you’re dealing with huge, multimillion dollar subdivisions, it gets very political. So, we can count on Whispering Springs connecting to us via Garnet Lake. Hopefully they will indeed build higher priced homes in that nearest section, because I believe it is Whispering Springs that is negatively affecting sales of homes in our subdivision. Very few houses have sold, and for those which have, the average sold price per square foot of living area over the past 12 months is about $112, the same as it was a decade ago!

6. Entrances

       Our beautiful entrances after renovations were completed.

Everyone has probably noticed the beautifully redone entrances to our subdivision. The biggest change was at the Sapphire Lake entrance, but the other two entrances were also redone, with new plants, mulch, and more. The last step was to troubleshoot the irrigation systems at all of the entrances. They had not been operational for years. The systems at Cane Market and Natures Way are small, and were easily repaired. Sapphire Lake has a large, elaborate system which required a new controller and some other fixes, but those were done. The only remaining issue is that a couple of valves are leaking and must be replaced. Resident and landscaper Jason Polo volunteered to troubleshoot those for us, so that issue should be taken care of very soon.

We also would like to thank resident Mary Stafford, who lives near the Sapphire Lake entrance. Mary was kind enough to let us connect to her water supply during those critical days after the new sod was put down and there was no rain in sight. Thanks to her the sod was kept watered, and ended up taking root and growing very nicely. We really appreciate her generosity!

7. Park

We are very fortunate to have our wonderful park here in Spring Lake. The park encompasses about 7.5 acres, and contains the pavilion, basketball court, playground, walking trail that is over 1/4 mile in length, trees, benches, fields in which to play, a gazebo near the south end and a 3.5 acre lake with large fishing pier. The park is a true blessing, and we thank our residents for keeping it in such good shape. It is really looking great. And, there is much more that we want to do with the park for everyone. Here are a few of our ideas and plans:

Fishing pier – The pier is made of old wood, which is showing its age quite a bit. We recently had to have some repairs done to replace rotted boards. We started researching permanent solutions, and it turns out that EZ Dock, one of the leading makers of docks and piers in the United States, has their Gulf Coast headquarters right here in Walker! We called them, and they came out that same day to measure and check out the existing pier. They said that the underlying structure of the pier, including the pilings, looks very solid, so they suggested just replacing the decking, railings, etc. They will be giving us quotes for doing so, with different choices of materials ranging from wood to synthetics which are designed to last around 20 years. We have no idea of the cost, but we’ll find out soon. This may be a project for the future, but eventually replacing all that old wood with modern materials will be more economical then constantly repairing what we have now. Plus, we cannot ignore the possibility of someone getting hurt if a board gives way.

Examples of EZ Dock’s work.

Pavilion – We would like to install outdoor rated ceiling fans at the pavilion. It would really help during the summer months.

Gazebo – Many people are not aware that near the south end of the walking trail lies a very nice gazebo, which is about 15 feet in diameter. It is solidly built, much like the pavilion. It needs to be pressure washed and stained, but that’s it. We would like to run electricity to that gazebo, and install lights, outlets, and a ceiling fan. We’ll also put in place one of those rock-solid picnic benches like we have at the pavilion. This will allow for smaller groups to have parties while something else is going on at the pavilion, for really large groups to occupy more than one location, and to give everyone another great place from which to enjoy the park. The view there is wonderful.

Fountains/aerators – While running electricity for the gazebo, we would also run it to the pier, and to the north and south ends of the lake. Those connections would be for a fountain and an aerator in each of those locations. The fountains would be smaller than the main fountain near Cane Market, but still very attractive. They would serve both for looks and for aeration. At night they would shut off and the 2 dedicated aerators would come on. These efficiently mix oxygen into the water, which will greatly improve the overall health of the lake and the many fish which it contains.


Type of smaller fountain we’d like to install. These also aerate the water.

High-efficiency aerator, which would run at night.

Having electricity at the fishing pier will allow us to install lights on it, which would be either motion-activated or set by a timer. If solar lighting is a better option, we would do that instead, but with power there we have choices.

Smaller items:

  • We will soon be solving the problem of the large drop from the playground slides to the surface beneath them.
  • We may move a bench currently beneath the trees to another good spot, and install a new picnic table in its place.
  • It was suggested that we could install bat houses at various spots around the park. Bats love water, so the park is an ideal location for them. In contrast to the Hollywood version of bats shown in movies, bats are actually tiny, beneficial animals. One small bat can eat over 1,000 insects every hour! They also pollinate flowers and spread seeds. Our board member Greg Bunch has a bat house in his backyard, which recently became the home of a maternity colony consisting of pregnant bats, then later the moms and their babies. Every night like clockwork he could sit on his back porch and watch the bats leave to go eat thousands of nuisance bugs. He also rescued two baby bats which fell out of the house, one of which is shown below. Having a few bat houses would be a great way to reduce insects in the area, while helping the local bat population. Bird houses may be a nice addition to the park as well.
Greg Bunch’s bat house, mounted on a 16′ pole, and a tiny baby bat he rescued.
Eastern bluebird on house.

8. Financials

Click here to see the financial statements as of August 31.

They are presented in 2 forms: Accrual basis and cash basis. This is only because we inherited over $80,000.00 of delinquent receivables, approximately $75,000 of which is still on the books. The management company used the cash basis for reporting, which concealed the delinquent amounts from our residents. The proper method is to use the accrual basis, which is what we do. However, since these amounts must now be accounted for instead of being hidden, they had to be shown as income (“sales”) which temporarily makes the income look far too high. Just for comparison purposes, we included the cash-based financials, which are based only off of what was collected, not what was invoiced or delinquent.

If you compare the accrual reports to the cash reports, the difference is approximately that due to the delinquent balances. As those balances are either credited off or collected, they will either be debited to sales (thus correcting the overstated income) or deposited into cash.

Since moving to self-management, we have cleared up over $7,000 from old past due accounts. Conversations have started with other lot owners on settling their accounts or getting set up on a payment plan to catch up. Legal remedies from our newly hired law firm are certain to bring more accounts current, one way or the other.

Our annual dues invoicing (income) totals $58,250. As of August 31, approximately $46,000 had been collected, leaving $12,250 in receivables from 2019. Most of this is from those who habitually pay late or not at all.

Here’s a brief look at key figures from August 31, 2019 compared to where we were a year ago:

As you can see, we have over $14,500.00 more in the bank than we did at the same time last year, and this is AFTER spending about $8K to renovate the entrances and repair the irrigation systems.

We are earning close to $100.00 of interest each month on our money in the bank, compared to about $2.00 a month last year.

Our average monthly expenses have fallen by over $1,100.00. As a self-managed subdivision, we are no longer spending nearly $1,500.00 each month on management fees. Since the big fountain has been working this year, along with the irrigation systems, utilities have risen back to normal levels, and Quickbooks costs us $60 each month. This is why the difference is $1100 instead of almost $1500.

Our past due balances have dropped by over $7,000.00 because of amounts we’ve collected. Those collections will continue to come in.

Here’s how we manage the bank accounts: Our routine is to keep a base amount of $2000 in the operating account, just in case we have an emergency expense, etc. Anything over that goes into the money market account to maximize the interest income. Each month an automatic transfer moves $1500 from the money market into operating to cover the recurring bills, which are then paid automatically. All this gets picked up directly into QuickBooks, so there’s no manual entry of this at all. So far, since moving to self-management we have only written a total of TWO paper checks! Everything is either done through electronic transfers or BillPay, which is free and doesn’t even cost postage.

9. Attorney

We have hired a new legal firm to represent us. They are:

Shockey & Associates
10114 Jefferson Highway
Baton Rouge, LA 70809
Phone 225-291-7500
Fax 225-291-7501

Bill Shockey, the lead attorney, has been practicing 40 years and is well-versed in HOA-related issues. He has represented between 15 and 20 other HOAs, including Easterly Lakes. We met at length with him and one of his associates, voted as a board to hire them, and immediately gave them stuff to do. Among their highest priorities are dealing with a rental we discovered; streamlining the procedures we must follow when enforcing violations and collecting delinquent amounts; and to start looking at revising or replacing our restrictions. They got started right away! We’re confident they’ll do a great job for us.

10. Other Plans and Goals

Here are a few items we’d like to do for our subdivision. Some are big and may be for the future; others are small and fairly easy to do. We ALWAYS welcome new ideas and suggestions, so if you have any, email them to the board! Also email any comments you have on existing plans, etc.

So, in no particular order:

  • Hire random but regular LPSO details to ticket those speeding and/or running stop signs. (This WILL be happening, so drive accordingly!) When the violations stop, so will the tickets.
  • Install more NO FISHING/TRESPASSING/PARKING signs around lakes.
  • Restock lakes and move some fish to balance and improve populations.
  • Replace the antiquated sign boxes at the entrances with modern, outdoor-rated digital signs which can be changed and updated almost instantly.
  • Install entrance cameras tied to the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office (like those at Easterly Lakes, which have been VERY successful!)
  • Set up regular police patrols to deter crime, another thing Easterly Lakes does with great success.
  • Install fountains/aerators in the big lake between Springlake and Fountain View.
  • Have more entertainment events at the park, including evening events with live music (as long as neighbors approve.)

11. Violations

Violations will be addressed in a separate update, which will be coming VERY soon. It will also talk about collection of past due amounts.

We know this has been a long update, but we’ve been doing a lot, and had much to say. We hope it was worth the wait!

As always, we look forward to your comments, ideas, and suggestions. Email us anytime!

Your Spring Lake HOA Board

Back To School Bash Saturday, August 10 at the park!

The Spring Lake HOA is putting on the 2019 Back To School Bash. It will feature inflatables from Stafford Amusements, DELICIOUS food from Firehouse BBQ and Catering, Cafe du Jour at the Whistle Stop, LaShish Greek and Mediterranean Restaurant, and more!

Should the weather forecast turn bad, we will update this announcement, and would postpone the bash until the following Saturday.

However, as of now we’re looking forward to great weather and a great time, so we’ll see you at the park!

Please RSVP with the number of people attending, as we’re trying to get an approximate head count. We want to make sure we have plenty of food!

Also, if you have a large ice chest you’d be willing to lend, please let us know! We have everything else covered, but could use more storage for ice.

Judson Baptist Church Backyard Kids Club at the park July 11

Spring Lake resident Brother Robbie Isom is the children’s minister at Judson Baptist Church  and wanted to extend the following invitation:

You’re invited to Judson Baptist Church’s


Join us on Thursday, July 11th from 6-8 at the Spring Lake Subdivision Park.

We’ll have music, crafts, games, Bible study, and snacks… all centered on this year’s VBS theme: In the Wild.

Our last one, held on June 13th, was a lot of fun, so come help us make this one even bigger and better!

For more information, call: Brother Robbie Isom @ 665-5481 or email: brorobbie@jbcla.com

June 10, 2019 Update

I. Judson Baptist Church Backyard Kids Club at the park June 13 and July 11

Spring Lake resident Brother Robbie Isom is the children’s minister at Judson Baptist Church  and wanted to extend the following invitation:

You’re invited to Judson Baptist Church’s


Join us on Thursday, June 13th and Thursday, July 11th from 6-8 at the Spring Lake Subdivision Park.

We’ll have music, crafts, games, Bible study, and snacks… all centered on this year’s VBS theme: In the Wild.

For more information, call: Brother Robbie Isom @ 665-5481 or email: brorobbie@jbcla.com

II. Entrance renovations are done!

As you may have seen, Alford’s Landscaping did a fast and beautiful job on all 3 of our entrances. They built a stone retaining wall around the sign on Sapphire Lake, which contains our new ornamental garden there. At Natures Way, they installed soil, mulch, and new plants, and at the Cane Market entrance, they trimmed, weeded, and mulched. They also spread fertilizer and weed preventative in all locations. The only remaining visible task is the installation of sod on Sapphire Lake, which should be this week. In addition, they will perform repairs to the irrigation systems at all entrances as needed.

III. Dues and Accounting

A big THANK YOU to all who have already paid their dues so far! We appreciate it very much, and will continue to put our money to the very best use. Speaking of money, we are fully running on QuickBooks now. Our monthly bills are paid automatically, and our bank account interfaces with QuickBooks. Therefore, all bank activity, whether it is a paid bill or the incoming collection of dues, goes directly into QuickBooks without the need for manual entry. Our CPA has given us beginning balances, and we have just 1 remaining discrepancy from the old accounting (only about $15.00) to track down before our books will be 100%, absolutely to-the-penny accurate!

More to come…

June 4, 2019 Update

I. Annual dues invoices

As you are probably aware, invoices were sent out for our 2019-2020 dues. They went out via email on Sunday night to all residents for whom we have working email addresses. Then yesterday, paper invoices were sent to everyone.

Dues are $250, and are payable by June 30.

You can pay by simply mailing a check to:

Spring Lake HOA
PO Box 849
Walker, LA 70785

If your bank offers free bill pay, have them send payment to the above address. This is the BEST way to pay, as it is completely free! Capital One and Hancock Whitney have this service, and it works very well. Other banks probably do as well.

You can pay online using the payment link in the email, via either a bank transfer or a card. Unfortunately, there are fees associated with these payment methods, which are beyond our control. We do not make anything on these fees.

For online payments:
Bank transfer: Add $2.53, for a total payment of $252.53
With a card: Add $7.72, for a total payment of $257.72

If you have to give us a card number over the phone, the fee is $9.06, so the total payment would be $259.06

NOTE: If you pay online, you MUST manually add the fee to your payment. It will show that there is a credit balance, which is correct. However, that amount is what pays the fee that we are charged for online payments. If you only pay $250, the net payment will be short by that amount, and you’ll have a balance due for the fee afterwards.

II. Live Oak Baptist Church VBS at the park

This past weekend, Pastor Donald Turner along with several other members of their church reserved the park pavilion for a party to kick off their summer Vacation Bible School. The event was a great success, and Pastor Turner sent us these kind words afterward:

Spring Lake team, just wanted to say thanks for all of the help this past week in getting the park reserved for our Vacation Bible School party (for Live Oak Baptist Church). Everything went really smoothly and I appreciate it. You guys went above and beyond. Special thanks to Greg and Tom who both came out to help with getting things unlocked and turned on at the pavilion and even stuck around and hung out with us for a while.

This was clearly easier than working with the management company last year. Thanks for everything you guys are doing, we appreciate it!

We really appreciate this group, and hope they’ll be back next year!

III. Judson Baptist Church Backyard Bible Club at the park June 13 and July 11

Resident Robbie Isom is the children’s minister at Judson Baptist Church. They have reserved the park pavilion from 6-8PM on Thursday, June 13 and Thursday, July 11. This is for children in grades K-5.

IV. Entrance renovations have begun!

The fine folks at Alford’s Landscaping started work bright and early this morning on the Sapphire Lake entrance. They have already done some preliminary grading, dug the footing for the new stone retaining wall, and have the southern wall already in place! By tomorrow afternoon, they plan to have all stone in, the grading done for the new sod, the other 2 entrances trimmed, weeded, and mulched! Sod will probably be next week, and plants will be installed after that depending on what they find with the irrigation system. That system has apparently been off for quite some time, and has leaks and other problems. This was expected; they just don’t know yet the extent of the issues needing repair. No matter what though, we will soon have 3 beautiful entrances! Note that we will be pressure washing the sign at the Sapphire Lake entrance, and the others too if they need it.

May 30, 2019 Update and Announcements

Here’s the latest!

I. Live Oak Baptist Church VBS at the park pavilion on Saturday, June 1 from 3PM-7PM

Pastor Donald Turner is a resident of Spring Lake, along with several other members of his church. This Saturday, they will be having a party at the pavilion to kick off their summer Vacation Bible School. There will be a bounce house, hot dogs, soft drinks, and music. Pastor Turner said it’s an opportunity for them to reach out in the community and invite parents and kids to VBS. You can see more about their VBS, which starts this Sunday, June 2, at this link: http://liveoakbaptist.org/special-events.
Be sure to go by the park, enjoy some good company, and get all the details.

II. Entrance update

The board would like to extend another HUGE thanks to resident Joey Armstrong and his wonderful Jeep! Using its power winch, Joey cleanly uprooted the remaining bushes on the median at the Sapphire Lake entrance. Board members Tom Burris and Greg Bunch hauled away the uprooted shrubs, with the help of Greg’s son Ethan and Ethan’s pickup truck. Greg and Ethan also removed the considerable amount of trash which was hidden among the bushes. This area will be graded and sodded as part of the big makeover of this entrance, which will improve visibility while driving through it, and also make it much neater and easier to maintain.

The board has formally chosen Alford’s Landscaping to complete the Sapphire Lake entrance makeover, and to bring the other two entrances up to the same standard. Alford’s submitted the most competitive bid, and has lots of experience building subdivision entrances. This is not just simple landscaping; they will be constructing a stone enclosure around the big sign, which will contain a raised bed full of mulch and ornamental plants. Not only was Alford’s bid the lowest, but we also saved a lot of money by pulling out those bushes ourselves. Work should begin very soon.

III. Street sign

While removing the uprooted bushes, Greg Bunch and his son noticed that the street sign at the corner of Springlake and Diamond Lake had fallen down, so they replaced it and tightened the mounting screw. It should be good to go.

IV. Accounting and Dues

Our new CPA has been in touch with us regularly, and should have our starting figures to us any day now. They figured out what had been done in the past, corrected those mistakes, and have outlined our path forward so that things will be accurate and simple. They also gave us the go-ahead to send out invoices for 2019-2020 dues. Our goal is to have those out by Tuesday at the latest. Again, dues are $250, payable by June 30, so there’s plenty of time!

When your invoice arrives, payment can be made by mailing a check to:

Spring Lake HOA
PO Box 849
Walker, LA 70785

There will also be at least one, if not two, online payment options as well.

That’s about it for now, though LOTS more is coming up soon. As always, feel free to send us your questions, comments, and suggestions. In turn, we’ll keep you up to date on everything happening in Spring Lake!

May 19, 2019 Update and Announcements

Here’s the latest on the many things which have been happening in Spring Lake.

I. Dues

A number of residents have contacted us about dues. We thank you for being so diligent!

Annual dues for Spring Lake are $250. They are and always have been due on June 30 of each year.

Invoices will be going out within about a week, both via mail and email.

Payment can be made by mailing a check to:

Spring Lake HOA
PO Box 849
Walker, LA 70785

There will also be at least one, if not two, online payment options as well. You can just wait for the invoices to go out if you like. There’s plenty of time before June 30. The invoice will contain instructions for all payment options.

II. Accounting and Finances

CPA
After speaking with several CPAs, we met with one who already handles the accounting for an HOA that’s larger than ours, and does a great job. We decided to go with him. He is:

David Wascom CPA
Partner at Hannis T. Bourgeois, LLP
178 Del Orleans Ave., Suite C
Denham Springs, LA 70726

We did not sign a formal contract with the CPA, as we prefer not to put Spring Lake on the hook with outside firms, at least until we know how they perform. Mr. Wascom’s firm will work on an as-needed basis and comes highly recommended. Their estimated cost for doing everything for us over the course of a year is well under $1000. We provided all pertinent records to them so that they can correct the mistakes made in the past and give us solid figures to implement from this point forward. We expect to have those in about a week or less. After that, they will review our books quarterly, and make any necessary corrections, along with preparing our annual tax returns etc.

Quickbooks
We imported our resident data into our new Quickbooks software, complete with outstanding balances and related notes. We will be able to use it to produce our annual invoices, in both printed and email format. As we mentioned above, we plan to send those out in about a week. Most of our bills are automated, and all bank activity imports into Quickbooks with the click of a mouse, making routine operations almost effortless.

Financials
As we mentioned, we are waiting on updated and correct financials from our new CPA. Until those arrive, the January reports from Community Management are the most recent “official” financials we have. Yet, those are deeply flawed, as detailed on page 4 of the document viewable by clicking here.

However, to provide something more updated, we took the January figures, added the subsequent bank transactions, receipts, and other activity, and generated a set of financials current through May 13, 2019. These are accurate to the best of our knowledge, though keep in mind they are unaudited and unofficial. Click here to see them.

Income

Note that since moving to self-management, we have collected over $2,500.00 in delinquent fees WITHOUT ASKING! Residents contacted us on their own to settle their accounts, and said it was because we’re no longer saddled with a management company, so their money won’t be wasted.

Also, in less than 3 months, we have earned $142.49 of interest income, compared to $28.76 for all of last year. Over the course of a year, we will earn over $1,000.00 of interest, money that will be put to good use.

IV. Entrances

As you know, a group of residents volunteered not long ago to remove the unsightly old shrubs from the Sapphire Lake entrance as the start of a major renovation. They were able to remove the majority of them, and their hard efforts are MOST appreciated! After looking at the scope of this project, we decided to seek bids from outside contractors for completing it. As previously stated, the goal is to make that entrance much simpler and easier to maintain. Instead of dozens of shrubs covering almost 200’ of median, that area will be turned into clean, easy to maintain grass. We will be getting a stone “box” built around the sign, which will contain the ornamental plants. We haven’t officially accepted a bid, but one was a real standout, and we should be awarding it within a day or two. Removing the dead bushes and the remaining live ones will knock the price down even more, and be a good savings for the subdivision. Yesterday, HOA president Tom Burris and secretary Greg Bunch removed all of the dead ones, with an assist from resident Anthony Todd. (Thanks Anthony – you da man!) We’re planning to rip out the remaining live ones next weekend, weather permitting. After that, the new work can start. Chances are we’ll have the contractor do the other 2 entrances as well, since they quoted those too and were VERY reasonable. Natures Way needs work, while the Cane Market entrance only needs a bit of freshening up. We want all 3 entrances to look their best.

Greg Bunch loading the last of the old dead shrubs from the Sapphire Lake entrance. (Photo by Tom Burris.)

V. Whispering Springs / New Spring Lake filing

Everyone is probably aware of the 8th filing of Spring Lake, which is to be accessed via Garnet Lake, as well as the massive Whispering Springs subdivision being built by DR Horton just to our north and west. Our secretary Greg Bunch has been trying to keep abreast of these developments, with limited success. He has repeatedly checked Livingston Clerk of Court records, but found no plans for the 8th filing. His concerns, which many share, were that DR Horton will be building that filing, and will connect it to their massive bordering subdivision.

Greg found some plat maps for Whispering Springs recorded with the Clerk of Court. They are labeled “Final Plat”, and seem to indicate that Whispering Springs will not connect with Spring Lake. However, a resident sent him a different version of the plat map, showing a connection with the new filing as well as another one to Springlake Drive if and when that street is ever extended past where it is now. (The point of connection is currently woods.)

To hopefully get a solid answer, Greg met with the Livingston Parish Planning Commission in person.

What they said seemed to confirm our worst fears. They told him the new Spring Lake filing will indeed be sold to DR Horton, and be connected to Whispering Springs. Supposedly the other possible connection way back past Spring Lake Drive, which is still just woods, will not be a connection, but as we all know that could change. Supposedly the “Final Plat” that’s recorded is not actually final, and the Planning Commission approved the revised one which connects the two subdivisions. However, as of today, the one showing no such connection is the only one recorded with the parish. And, there is still no plat map of the 8th filing of Spring Lake recorded.

If what the Planning Commission said is accurate, then it seems that the new Spring Lake filing was, in some ways, falsely represented, and is just a way for DR Horton to get a free entrance into Whispering Springs, through OUR subdivision!

The new Spring Lake filing goes all the way out to Walker Road, just north of the existing entrance. We feel that if DR Horton wants an entrance to Whispering Springs, they should build one there, and make that part of Whispering Springs instead of Spring Lake. The sign that went up said “Spring Lake 8th Filing”, but apparently nothing seems to be engraved in stone. We would rather that filing be part of Whispering Springs than have that monstrous subdivision connected to ours.

We will keep working to find out what the true plans are, and will let everyone know. If anyone has any inside knowledge of these plans, the Planning Commission, or any other entity related to this, please get in touch with us. We do not want Spring Lake to become a driveway for Whispering Springs!

VI. Rentals

The Spring Lake restrictions have always prohibited houses to be used as rentals. Over the years, several owners have said that since they were “leasing” their houses, they were not in violation of the restrictions. Each time, past boards consulted a real estate attorney, who confirmed that a lease does in fact constitute a rental, therefore does violate our restrictions. We could not find those prior opinions in the documents we were given, so we obtained a current written opinion from one of the most respected real estate attorneys in the Baton Rouge area. That document can be seen by clicking here.

The board will be continuing to implement stiff fines and collection procedures on any and all rental properties remaining in Spring Lake.

VII. Insurance Policy

Our blanket insurance policy, which provides liability coverage for residents and board members, as well as casualty coverage on structures, signs, etc was up for renewal. We received quotes from several sources. After carefully reviewing the options, we renewed with the existing carrier at a cost of $4117, about the same as last year. Other similarly priced options had no advantages over them, and the existing company has gone from a B+ rating to A. The only coverage available from a standard (“admitted”) carrier was from State Farm, with a premium of about $8,000.00. We felt that any possible benefits were not worth paying almost twice the price.

VIII. Summer Bash

We have begun preliminary planning for a really nice summer party. We’ll give plenty of notice and details as things firm up.

That’s about it for now, though more is on the very near horizon. As always, feel free to send us your questions, comments, and suggestions. In turn, we’ll keep you up to date on everything happening in Spring Lake!

March 14, 2019 Meeting Minutes and Update

First of all, you can click here to see the meeting minutes from 2/11/2019 through 3/11/2019.

This past Saturday, March 9, 2019, a hardy group of volunteers met at the Sapphire Lake entrance. Their task was to pull up the MANY old shrubs which covered much of the 2 medians at that entrance. The crew consisted of:

Joey Armstrong
Danielle Bunch
Justin Caldwell
Richard Carter
Brandon Domingue

Richard Carter takes a break after winning a hard-fought battle with the deeply rooted shrubs.

These folks provided the effort, enthusiasm, tools, and even a winch! The HOA supplied cold drinks and a lot of heartfelt appreciation for the great job they did.

The shrubs proved to be no match for Joey Armstrong and his power winch!

In a short period of time, they managed to remove about 3/4 of the shrubs, along with the old iron edging which was in place. They also pulled some other weeds, etc. A small patch of shrubs remains, and will be removed soon. After that, sod will be laid down in place of the shrubs, and a nice border and landscaping will be done around the sign. The entrance will be much neater, better-looking, and easier to maintain when this project is finished.

Board member Justin Caldwell and his mighty axe. We may have to let Justin handle collections of past due accounts!

Again, our sincere thanks to those who participated! For everyone who missed out, there will be opportunities to work on this and the other 2 entrances coming soon!

We wanted to let everyone know that with the almost constant rains lately, we realize that keeping yards cut has been almost impossible lately. We will not send out any undeserved violation notices because of the bad weather. It’s affecting everyone! Once the soil dries though, be sure to get those yards cut as soon as you can, because we never know when the next monsoon will start!

Also, keep in mind that if you have clippings from lawns, shrubs, etc. Waste Management won’t pick them up unless they are in bags.

Since the departure of the management company, several residents have come to us on their own to pay their overdue balances. This is truly appreciated, and benefits our entire subdivision. In turn, we promise to do our best to spend Spring Lake’s money wisely.

There’s lots more going on, so we’ll be updating everyone again soon. In the meantime, let us know your suggestions, ideas, thoughts, or problems. We look forward to hearing from you!

March 5, 2019 Update and Announcements

A lot has been happening over the past couple of weeks! Now that much of it is behind us, we wanted to catch everyone up as we continue to move forward.

First of all, weather permitting, the Common Areas Committee along with anyone else interested in helping are planning to go clean out the old shrubs from the Sapphire Lake entrance this coming Saturday morning, March 9. This is tentative, as the forecast doesn’t look promising right now, but we’ll keep you posted. Whether it’s this Saturday or not, the plan is to make that entrance much simpler and easier to maintain. Instead of dozens of shrubs covering almost 200’ of median, most of that area will be cleared, turning it into clean, easy to maintain grass. The section around the sign will be nicely landscaped and planted, making an attractive, low-maintenance feature where it is most visible. A preliminary rendering of the entrance was drawn up by resident Joe Miller, and is shown here.

 

 

Our last official day with Community Management was Thursday, February 28. They gave us our money right before that, but we were able to open our new accounts at Hancock Whitney with no trouble. We have an operating (checking) account, and a Money Market account in which we keep the majority of the funds. That account pays 1.98% interest, almost 40 times what we were being paid previously under Community Management. Our account earned $2.22 for February in just ONE day, compared to the $28.76 interest the old bank gave us for all of 2018! We are already seeing the benefits of having our money in a good, local bank.

After opening the bank accounts, we immediately paid the few bills we had, and on time. All recurring monthly bills, including our utilities, were then set up on auto-pay so they will never be paid late.

We bought QuickBooks Plus, the same version of QuickBooks which the Easterly Lakes HOA has been using for some time. It costs only $60 per month, and we got our first 3 months on sale, at just $18 each.

As we all know, it is tax time, and the same goes for the HOA. After looking through some of the previous tax filings done by whoever CM used, it seems that things may not have been done properly or on time. That plus the known misrepresentation of the accounts receivable calls for a CPA to review the reports we have now, and make whatever corrections are needed so that we have a reliable starting point. We already sent the pertinent 2016-2019 reports to a trusted local CPA, and will be hearing back from him soon. By doing this, we can be confident that the initial accounting is accurate. We’re not signing a contract with him, but if he does a good job, he may end up being the one doing our quarterly CPA reviews as well.

We created a convenient form for residents to subscribe to the HOA email list. That link will only be released on the closed Facebook group for now. The email addresses collected using the signup form will be validated against our database, to maintain the integrity and privacy of our communications. As our website expands, we plan to have a “residents only” login, so that items like this can be distributed. We have taken back ownership of our official domain name, SpringLakeWalker.com. For now, that domain is the same as TheNewSpringLake.com, but once we get other priorities put to rest, SpringLakeWalker.com will become our permanent home, and will have many new features.

Speaking of email: As of now we have over 190 working email addresses in our resident database, and that number is going up all the time! We set up a free HOA account with Mailchimp, which is an excellent mail list service that works very well and has been around for many years. It gives us the ability to send clear, attractive emails quickly and easily, and because of our low volume, there is no cost to us at all.

We have not heard back about which builder is developing the new filing, but we’re still pressing for answers on several fronts. As soon as we hear anything, we’ll pass it along!

Just like everyone else, the HOA’s lawn company has been hesitant to cut the grass due to soggy ground caused by the constant rain. We spoke to them today however, and they said they expect to be able to cut this Friday, March 8.

That’s about it for now. Feel free to send us your questions, comments, and suggestions. In turn, we’ll keep you up to date on everything happening in Spring Lake!