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