Lake's "deadbeats" owe $500,000

It was a bit of unfortunate timing. The same week that Roy Mathers got a list of delinquent lot owners who owe a whopping $500,000 to the Lake Monticello Owners' Association, he also received the neighborhood's weekly flyer which said the Lake’s board of directors wanted to raise residents’ dues three percent.
“I said, ‘There’s something wrong with that,’” recounts Mathers.
Lake Monticello in Fluvanna County is a 4,611-lot gated community with a golf course, beaches, swimming pool, and tennis courts. To maintain these amenities, each Lake Monticello lot owner must pay $340 a year in dues. 
    The Lake Monticello News lists 114 delinquent lot owners— Mathers suggests the intention of the list was to embarrass people into paying. He says he doesn’t understand how the delinquencies could have ballooned to a half million dollars, and speculates that some people have ducked paying for 20 or 30 years.
“If someone owes $14,000, that’s insanity,” Mathers says. “Take ‘em to court or slap liens on the property. It’s just a bunch of deadbeats.”
    In fact, the Association's board of directors is prepared to put liens on property, turn off bar codes that allow gate access, and revoke the right to use the lake’s amenities until the dues are paid. And Association vice president/secretary, Scott Marshall, says the past due amounts include 18 percent annual interest. But he disagrees that the delinquents are deadbeats.
    “People were delinquent because their lives changed in the ‘90s,” he says. “I don’t think they just said, ‘We’re not going to pay our dues.' People got divorced or lost their jobs.”
    Indeed, one of those listed is former Working Weekly publisher Gail Bentley, who suffered financial reversals when that publication went into bankruptcy and folded.
    Since the list was published, Marshall says, people have been paying up, including the largest debtor, Acres Development LLC, which paid $49,000 of the $60,000 the Association said it owed. 
    “We’re current with our dues, except for three lots closing the end of this month,” says Keith Smith, Acres Development manager. As for why Acres Development owed so much, Smith says, “One of the problems we had was that it took forever for them to give an accounting of what we owed. I don’t know where the $60,000 came from.”
    Mathers, too, wonders how accurate the list is, and how hard previous boards tried to collect past due accounts.
This isn’t the first time a board has had to file liens to get delinquent dues, according to Marshall. “All boards have gone through the same thing trying to collect money,” he says.
Mathers thinks collecting even 25 percent of the past due accounts would more than cover the proposed three percent increase in dues. And he intends to vote no when Lake Monticello residents vote on the dues increase on June 29. 
However, Marshall thinks the increase is likely to pass, based upon a residents’ survey. “It’s a little over 10 bucks per lot,” he says. 
    “Where else," asks Mathers, "can you live in a gated community with police, restaurants, golf course, five beaches, pool, and a clubhouse that’s absolutely gorgeous for $340 a year?”

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