The Recreation Centers of Sun City West facilities have been in flux since March, which has the community questioning the use of fees, while facilities were closed down for quite some time and others have yet to open.
The RCSCW governing board approved a membership fee increase from $480 to $497 that went into effect July 1 and owner-members expressed displeasure with the decision.
During the July 15 remote training and planning session with the new governing board, the area of membership was discussed, specifically pertaining to late fees, collection and liens.
“When we talk about membership we need the governing board’s assistance when it comes to policy,” RCSCW General Manager Bill Schwind said. “As you well know if anyone is 30 days late when it comes to annual dues assessed a 10 percent fine and then they get a 60-day notification. If not paid within a 90-day period a lien will appear on their property. Since we pay by individual owners rather than rooftop that individual owner-member card gets deactivated and no further notification goes down the pike. Those are the only teeth we have when it comes to collecting fees.”
Mr. Schwind went on to explain at the 90-day mark a lien is filed and a $150 per person charge on the deed once the property is deemed no longer in good standing. The issue exists because names on the deed get individually billed, such as a husband and wife and only one will pay. RCSCW officials said a lot of time is spent chasing those down.
“Membership staff is working on policy with the board to provide us the opportunity once a lien is placed, all names on the deed have their membership card deactivated,” Mr. Schwind said. “We will bring this to the committee level and get help cleaning up the membership language.”
Governing board member Sharon Hettick asked about exceptions to the assessments in the case of a disability that prevents use of facilities. Mr. Schwind explained there are no exceptions.
Board member Sue Fitzsimons said clearing up any issues membership runs into is a good area of focus for the board. George Kuchtyak, board president, referenced his own mother who is unable to use the facilities and continues to pay dues each year. He agreed the policy needs to be cleaned up and ensure everyone is in compliance.
A facilities agreement is signed by every owner-member at move-in, guaranteeing they will pay the dues regardless of usage, according to Recreation Centers of Sun City West General Services Officer Katy O’Grady. Per the facilities use agreement, “the undersigned agree that the first annual assessment shall be paid at the time of purchase of the above-described Property, with the assessment being paid annually thereafter regardless of the undersigned’s use of, non-use of Association facilities.”
Additionally, ARS 33-1802 states in paragraph one, “Association means a non-profit corporation or unincorporated association of owners that is created pursuant to a declaration to own and operate portions of a planned community that has the power under the declaration to assess association members to pay the costs and expenses incurred in the performance of the association’s obligations under the declaration.”
Paragraph four states in part, “the declaration expressly states both that the owners of separately owned lots, parcels or units are mandatory members and that the owners are required to pay assessments to the association for these purposes.”
Obligations and services provided by the community are unrelated to actually having a rec center open for a certain amount of time, according to Ms. O’Grady.
“Many of the costs continue regardless of the opening or closure of a facility,” she said.
The partial list includes administration, full-/part-time staff, mandated wages, benefits, IT/Wifi, public relations, security, guest registration, audits, insurance and taxes. Facility costs include four recreation centers, club rooms, Stardust Theatre, electricity, facility repairs and replacements, 200-plus HVAC units, pool maintenance and golf carts.
Recreation activities that must be paid for from assessments include indoor/outdoor pools, fitness centers, pro shops and seven golf courses. Property costs include dog parks, common areas, tree maintenance and medians. Programs offered that must be paid for include two annual art fairs, computer lab, special events and a rec center newspaper.