The dues increase referendum continuation vote results from the October 26th continuation vote are in, and unfortunately the referendum did not pass.
Although, once again, a majority of MHFRA resident members in good standing supported the referendum (58%) we fell short of the 67% majority needed to pass the dues increase.
We would like to thank everyone who supported our efforts, and assure residents that the MHFRA Board continues to pursue all our options to keep our pool club open. Our current funding levels should allow us to open in the spring, and barring a large mechanical failure beyond our means to repair, we look forward to another successful season.
Ultimately, the MHRA Board of Trustees has a responsibility to maintain our club, and we will continue to work diligently to that end. In the meantime, we would like to again thank the many members who have supported our efforts and assure the residents of our Monmouth Heights community that we are not done yet!
Concrete aprons around the pool and the interior pool surface need to be repaired and or replaced. This work is critical if we are to remain open beyond another few seasons.
We have a number of plumbing and irrigation issues to address.
Our bathrooms have issues that demand more than a coat of paint! They need to be brought up to modern standards
The tennis court and parking lot have deteriorated to a point that can no longer be ignored.
We are proposing the following change to our annual dues:
The Annual Assessment for 2020 shall be Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00). The Annual Assessment for 2021 shall be Two Hundred Twenty Dollars ($220.00). The Annual Assessment for 2022 shall be Two Hundred Forty Dollars ($240.00). The Annual Assessment for 2023 shall be Two Hundred Sixty Dollars ($260.00). The Annual Assessment for 2024 shall be Two Hundred Eighty Dollars ($280.00). The Annual Assessment 2025 and each year thereafter shall be Three Hundred Dollars ($300.00).
If you cannot make the meeting and the vote, you should have received a mail in ballot the week of August 16th. Only members in good standing (fully paid dues) are eligible to vote. If you have not received a ballot, or to pay dues balances, please contact our HOA manager, Regency Management Group at 732-364-5900
The official declaration to increase member dues, as well as the 2012 Capital Reserve study outlining the estimated maitenance & repair costs and suggested schedule back in 2012 can be found below. None of this work beyond filter system maitenance and repair has been done!
MHFRA Dues Increase Referendum Frequently Asked Questions
How did we get to this point?
There are a number of reasons for these financial challenges, but the most basic is the fact that the Association dues have not changed since its inception over 40 years ago. In short, this Association cannot operate a pool club in 2019 with dues that were established in 1971. A tour of the club facility will show decrepit unusable tennis courts, bathroom and pool facilities that do not meet modern Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, standard safety features (such as safety fencing around the baby pool) that have never been installed, crumbling concrete, broken fountains and continuing plumbing issues. We are beginning to see indications that the physical structure of the main pool itself is deteriorating and will need to be resurfaced within a few years.
How much does it really cost to operate the pool club?
There is a significant amount of work and expense that goes into operating the pool club. Beyond the cost of hiring lifeguards and a pool management company, there are costs associated with buildings and grounds maintenance, equipment repairs and upgrades, landscaping, and administrative expenses that are common to any association (printing, postage, etc.). The Association’s original 2018 operating budget is summarized below. This budget shows a maintenance budget of $2,000. We were actually forced to cut deeply into our remaining reserves for over $14,000 for upgrades to our filtration system mandated by new State of NJ bathing code regulations. In addition, we only generated $29,654 in guest member dues out of a hoped for revenue of $36,000.
2018 Operating Year Proposed Budget. February 2018
Gate - Daily Guest Pass
Guest Member Dues
Membership Dues Resident
Sales Tax (guest members)
Prior Year Dues
Swim Team Income
Swim Team Income (Other)
Snack Bar Revenue
Total Other Income
Building Repair & Maintenance
Twp Fire Inspection
Grounds & Pool
Swim Team Coaches
Total Grounds & Pool
Operating Expenses- ADMIN
Insurance - General Liability
Professional Fees (Attorney)
Professional Fees (Accountant)
QuickBooks Software License
Management - Pool
Management - Invoicing
Office & Postage
Pool Passes (Printing)
Past Sales Taxes
PO Box Rental
Total Operating Expenses- ADMIN
Telephone / Internet
Water & Sewer
How much revenue does the Association generate?
All MHFRA Member Families pay $150 per year in membership dues. There are 568 Member Families within the Association, which equates to a revenue stream of $85,200 in membership dues each year, although over 10% of our members are in delinquency. Given the operating expenses outlined above, the revenues generated by membership dues alone cannot adequately provide for the operation of the club.
The annual membership dues have not increased since the club opened in 1971. While the membership dues have remained unchanged, the expenses associated with operating the club have increased significantly. To put this figure in perspective, if the original dues of $150 was adjusted by the average annual inflation rate from 1971 to today, then according the the US Bureau of Labor Statistics current membership dues would be over $900 per year. The fact that the community has kept the club open under these circumstances is largely due to the dedication of a small group of volunteers who have donated significant time, effort and extra donations over the years to keep this club in operation. Sadly though, even with the continued commitment of these members, we cannot continue indefinitely with declining income and aging infrastructure.
Don’t Guest Memberships generate enough income to cover the gap?
The Trustees that preceded the current Board had the foresight to open the club to “Guest Members” a number of years ago. This Guest Membership program was developed to increase revenues to meet the increasing costs of club operation. However, the Guest Member dues fluctuate year to year depending on enrollment and as the physical state of the club deteriorates, we are seeing a decline in guest memberships. At its peak, guest memberships brought in over $40,000 per season. We are now down to a little under $30,000 per season. Guest Members currently pay $485 per year for family membership. Depending on the membership total for a particular year, this revenue stream can vary greatly.
It is important to note that none of the revenue generated by the guest membership is guaranteed. At any time, this revenue stream can decrease significantly or disappear entirely. We saw this after the financial crisis of 2009, when guest membership immediately dropped 25 percent. Guest Membership is not a revenue stream that can be, or should be, relied upon year to year to meet basic operational expenses. We do think it’s appropriate to be conservative with our budget, and for that reason we have tried to use the revenue from members for basic pool operations and services.
Where would any additional income go? What kind of improvements to the pool club are proposed?
We have received some feedback indicating that during the last referendum vote in 2012, some community members felt that the additional revenues requested were going to be spent on items that were luxuries and that asking community members to pay additional funds for them was wrong. We must emphasize that this is not correct. The revenue stream from the Monmouth Heights Community goes straight towards the direct operational, maintenance and management costs of the pool. While we do have a need for new chairs, umbrellas, awnings and the like, theses items have been purchased only through donations or through income generated from sources like guest passes. A tour of the club would show that we have tried very hard to keep our operational costs as low as possible while still providing a safe and fun experience for community families.
So what projects would the additional funds be used for?
In order to adequately plan for capital improvements it is necessary to establish and fund a “reserve account.” The primary reason to set aside reserve funds is to ensure that adequate monies are available for anticipated long-term maintenance of common areas. Reserve funding is a common practice among community associations because it provides a means of fairly distributing and offsetting the costs of future replacements and upgrades. The reserve fund is critical to sound fiscal planning and budgeting and is an indicator of the financial strength of an association.
The MHFRA has operated for most of its history without a reserve account. In 2010, the board established a reserve account by transferring $20,000 from the operating fund. In 2011, a reserve study performed by an independent consultant concluded that that the Association’s reserve funding plan was inadequate given the age of the facility and need for improvements. The report recommended that the annual contribution be increased in anticipation of future expenditures. With the defeat of the referendum in 2012, no additional funding for the reserve account was possible, and what was originally dedicated has been used since then as a reserve fund for emergency repairs. This past year we were forced to do pump system upgrades to comply with new NJ Bathing Code statues. Those repairs cost over $14,000. The estimate for work to repair the main pump and a broken line to open for 2019 just came in at a little over $10,000. Any additional mechanical or structural issues at this point could close the pool.
So, what does all this mean if the referendum is not passed?
The Association is in an even more precarious financial situation than we were in 2012. Current operations cannot be sustained without action. As it stands, we will be able to open next season and if we are lucky the season after that, but given the physical state of the club it is unlikely operations could continue beyond another season or two. Serious code violations or safety concerns will inevitably force the closure of the club and we are not far away from that point now.
What if we let the club close? Could we sell the property?
There are of course alternatives to raising our dues, but we feel that none of them are good options. We could, for instance, close the club for a number of years and apply all collected dues towards infrastructure improvements, however doing so would make it very difficult to do important things like keep our current management staff, whose knowledge of the pool facilities and community are very valuable. It would also drive away a large number of guest members.
Another option is to permanently close the club, which we feel is a terrible idea for the community for the following reasons:
What is the Board proposing?
The Board of Trustees is committed to maintaining and improving the club for current and future Monmouth Heights residents. The Board has a fiduciary responsibility to the Association and every Trustee takes this obligation very seriously. It is our goal to make sure that the Association is able to continue operation and provide enjoyment to our residents for next season and beyond. As Monmouth Heights residents, we all have a stake in the ownership of the pool club. It is in everyone’s best interest to have a vibrant and active pool club as this improves our community as well as each resident’s property value. This is true whether your family uses the club on a daily basis or you have never been to the club. A clean, well maintained and successful pool club operation benefits all Monmouth Heights Members.
As explained above, it is not possible to operate a pool club today using fees established over 40 years ago. Therefore, the Board of Trustees has put forth a resolution to assess an additional $50 for the 2020 season, followed by increases of $20 in 2021 though 2025, capping dues at $300.00. We are asking the Association membership to vote for the approval of this resolution. If approved, this resolution would be incorporated into the Association’s governing documents and the new membership dues would take effect for 2019.
In accordance with the MHFRA bylaws (available under the HOA tab on our website), only those members in good standing (i.e., with current membership dues paid through 2018) will be allowed to vote. If you have not paid your membership dues and wish to do so, please contact Regency Management Group via phone ( 732-364-5900) or email (email@example.com). In order to be eligible to vote, your account balance (including all late fees) must be paid in full and recorded by our HOA manager by the date of the referendum. Any votes from members that are not in good standing will not be counted. Thank you for your anticipated support in this matter.