Farmington Woods Condo Budget Battle: Golfers Versus Non Golfers
A divisive battle is taking place at the giant Farmington Woods Condo complex in Avon where a minority of the golfers want the whole complex to pay millions of dollars to install a new irrigation system owned by the tax district, which represents the complex.
The following is written by Lee Lagasse is Chairman of FW Resident for Fiscal Responsibility and blogs about this issue at www.farmingtonwoodsinsider.blogspot.com.
As a non-golfer and as someone who believes that private golf courses have no way to go but downhill, he opposed having his district taxes increased by 18 percent for the benefit of golfers. He thinks there are many other maintenance priorities that the money should be used for. He is including photos of that in this article.
Others who feel differently are welcome to state their views at CtWatchdog.
Whether you live at Farmington Woods or in any condo, or considering buying a condo, you need to read this to know what kinds of issues you might face.
By Lee Lagasse
On May 10th Farmington Woods Condominium residents in Avon, CT will vote on two separate bond proposals which, if passed, will increase yearly district taxes by 18% or an average of nearly $500 per unit.
As it is, residents here are overburdened by town taxes, condominium fees, the aforementioned district taxes and a $30.00 monthly restaurant minimum. And if opening your yearly property tax bill causes your eye to twitch and your hands to tremble, consider that for residents here town property taxes amount to just one third of their total tax liability.
The proposed bonds, totaling $6.8M with interest, are for the purposes of installing a new irrigation system for a failing golf course located on the property and making improvements to the money losing clubhouse including an elevator, redesigned entranceway and a horseshoe bar for the restaurant.
Originally bundled together and presented at informational meetings in early February with a scheduled vote in March, residents were able to convince the board at a Public Hearing to delay the vote until May 10th and unbundle the two bonds so that they could be voted on separately.
The board is facing some unusually stiff opposition from this normally laissez faire community in the hills of Avon, but as has been the case in the past, they think they have the votes to win. They have said so publicly. But this time the outcome could be different.
THERE ARE TOWNS AND THEN THERE ARE “TOWNS”
If Farmington Woods was a town, its population of roughly 2000 residents would outnumber 10 towns on the list of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities. But it isn’t a town, it’s a condominium community with 1,084 homes spread over 375 acres of what used to be apple orchards and two “real” towns, Avon and Farmington. It may not be a town as such, but it does have two forms of government: a condominium association and a tax district.
Unlike those 10 smaller towns on the list it doesn’t have an elementary school, a senior center, a library or parks with statues of Revolutionary War heroes. There wouldn’t be funds available for those things even if residents wanted them. There is, however, an enterprise at Farmington Woods that is never without necessary funding, even in years when membership is waning, and that’s the golf course that winds through the hills and valleys surrounding the units.
The course has been running in the red for the past six years. Between golf operations and the adjoining clubhouse, losses have totaled more than $1.3M over the last six years but both enterprises have been sustained by condo fees and district taxes for operational and capital improvements respectively, since about 2005.
Ironically, 2005 was to be the year that the twenty year, million dollar bond that funded the purchase of the course in the 80’s would finally be paid off. At a cost of $100K per year over the twenty year bond period, residents were looking forward to spending the money on other capital improvements such as sidewalks and upgrades to community property including among other things a small fitness center at the clubhouse
Unfortunately, the tax district had other ideas for the money: providing $68,000 to replace sand traps, improve irrigation and remove trees on the golf course. When a resident group brought up the fact that $20K had already been spent for a new bathroom on the 14th tee, the board countered by saying that the bathroom funds had been approved in the previous budget and were therefore not part of the this particular discussion. End of story. Two years later a moratorium was placed on building new sidewalks.
How is it that the needs of a community of close to 2000 individuals get overshadowed by those of a relatively small special interest group? And why does the condo board have the power to use resident fees and taxes to subsidize a golf club operation with resident membership of 89? To understand you have to familiarize yourself with the political and cultural makeup of this small “town”.
READ ON HERE: http://ctwatchdog.com/finance/farmington-woods-condo-budget-battle-golfers-versus-non-golfers