ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF THE
PROPERTY OWNERS' ASSOCIATION


BY CATEGORY


INTRODUCTION
1975 TO PRESENT

As indicated by the POA's Mission Statement, we exist and function as a watchdog body for the Residents of The Villages. Established in 1975, the POA is the original home owners' association, with no ties and/or affiliation to the Developer, local government or business community. Through our efforts, we strive to make The Villages an even better place in which to live, where Residents' Rights are respected, and local government and the Developer are responsive to the needs and interest of everyone living in the "Friendliest Hometown in America".

Throughout the four decades plus, the POA, via its Officers, Directors and Members, has championed many contentious issues, and/or presented facts on other concerns and issues, in an effort to keep all Villagers apprised of pertinent events. To enhance our knowledge and exhibit a unified front, we routinely monitor Village wide Amenity Authority Committee (AAC) and Community Development District) CDD meetings, to keep abreast of all matters before them. Our POA Bulletin, expanded to 24 pages over the years, and our monthly POA meetings, are a way we have of disseminating this information back to the Residents of this community.

We have compiled a summary of some accomplishments and activities the POA has pursued over the past years. In some cases, it is a continuation of involvement by the POA to maintain the status quo, monitor, and bring certain concerns to fruition.

You will find these accomplishments broken down by categories, and year ranges, for your research and convenience in the menu to the left, or in the paragraphs below:

I - IRS

A. Early Years (1975-1995)

See Current Years (2005-2015)

B. Mid Years (1996-2004)

See Current Years (2005-2015)

C. Current Years (2005-2015)

IRS (2005-2015) - The POA has continuously kept residents updated about the VCCDD's ongoing dispute with the IRS. A short summary follows:

In January of 2008, the Village Center Community Development District (VCCDD) received an inquiry and a request for documents from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) pertaining to the VCCDD's (and later SLCDD's) bonds issued for the purchase of Amenity Contracts/facilities. The IRS challenged their tax exempt status and had three areas of concern regarding the VCCDD's bonds.

First, since 2008, the IRS has taken the position that the VCCDD was not a political sub-division eligible to issue tax exempt bonds. Is the Village Center Community Development District, the Issuer of the Bonds under investigation, a qualified issuer of tax exempt bonds? The VCCDD's position has been clear since the beginning - "If the IRS wants to change how a political subdivision is determined, the new definition should be applied prospectively and not retrospectively." The VCCDD won this challenge as the IRS agreed to not apply their new "definition" retroactively.

Second, the IRS took the position that the District paid an amount in excess of the value of what was purchased. Did the Series 2003 Facilities acquisition price reflect the fair market value of the assets? Was the Bond Issue properly sized to carry out the government purpose of the Bonds? How does the Developer's control over the District's governing board and the related party aspects of this relationship impact the use and/or allocation of Bond proceeds to a governmental purpose or an essential government function? After years of analysis and review of this issue, the VCCDD attorneys claimed that the IRS analysis was flawed and that when errors were corrected, the price paid was actually in the best interest of the District. (The IRS has not made any further claims regarding this issue.)

Lastly, the IRS took the position that the bonds were private activity bonds and therefore did not qualify to be tax-exempt. Were the Bond proceeds used for an essential governmental function or do the nature of the Facilities acquired with the Bonds result in private business use, and hence the Bonds are Private Activity Bonds? The IRS has never responded to the VCCDD response to this allegation which was submitted last March until the current settlement offer. At the November 12 VCCDD Board meeting, Supervisor Moyer (the District's "liaison" on the IRS challenges) advised the Board that legal research suggested that it could prevail if it wanted to reject the IRS $1.5M settlement offer and fight to the end. He advised that even though the VCCDD attorneys believe they have a strong case, it would then likely go through the IRS appeal process, another costly process estimated to be about $300,000. The VCCDD Board voted unanimously to make a $300,000 counter offer (the approximate cost of an appeal). Supervisor Moyer will present the VCCDD results to the Sumter Landing CDD as it has a potential impact on that board.

II - COMMUNITY ISSUES

A. Early Years (1975-1995)

With expansion of the commercial area and the addition of golf courses on the west side of highway 27/441, residents wanted golf cart access to the facilities on either side. The POA, VHA, and C.I.C. partnered in support for a highway crossing, and the Developer responded by obtaining approval to build the existing golf cart bridge over highway 27/441.

B. Mid Years (1996-2004)

POA Surveys - We conducted five Surveys through the Bulletin over the years detailing attitudes about life in The Villages. Some of the actions were later addressed by the Developer and the Center Districts.

Violence on the Squares - We reported in the Bulletin on several instances of violence on the Squares. As a result, Center District administration worked with local law enforcement to provide a heightened law enforcement presence on the Squares.

C. Current Years (2005-2015)

Several live oak trees were illegally cut down with no one taking responsibility. The POA offered a solution: all the residents in that neighborhood would have to share the cost of replacing 12 trees at a cost of approximately $50,000 unless someone (preferable the perpetrators) come forward (announced or unannounced) to pay for the replacement. Someone did come forward anonymously and the case was closed.

Suddenly, a golf cart trail on Developer's owned property between Paradise Drive and The Villages Health System East Campus was blocked by a wall cutting off this path and leaving some residents on the wrong side with no way to get past. After much discussion, the wall was removed.

III - HEALTH CARE ISSUES (1975-1995)

A. Early Years (1975-1995)

See Mid Years (1996-2004) & Current Years (2005-2015)

B. Mid Years (1996-2004)

Hospital Emergency Room - 2004 - We noticed continuing poor service and performance in our hospital's ER over the years. We documented over 125 instances of serious problems in the ER. We publicized the problems. In response, LRMC brought in a new CEO of the hospital, a new director of the ER, dedicated more resources and staff to the ER, hired more nurses, established better training programs, and brought in three Villagers to sit on the Board of the hospital's parent organization.

Health Care - Moffitt Cancer Center - 2004 - We advocated bringing this cancer center to The Villages for what we believed would be one of the crown jewels in the medical facilities of The Villages. We organized a letter-writing program, researched the demographics, argued for bringing the center here, and voiced our hopes to the appropriate decision-makers.

C. Current Years (2005-2015)

The POA lead the opposition to the 2005 proposed Sumter County Hospital Tax which would have taxed Sumter County residents $200 - $300 per home for use by our hospital and would also give 20% of the tax off the top to the Developer's foundation. It was defeated.

The POA assisted in bringing to light care issues at the hospital which resulted in LRMC hiring a new CEO, new ER Director, dedicating more staff and resources to the ER, and bringing three Villagers to sit on the TVRH Board.

IV - PRODUCT RELIABILITY AND WARRANTY (1975-1995)

A. Early Years (1975-1995)

See Current Years (2005-2015)

B. Mid Years (1996-2004)

See Current Years (2005-2015)

C. Current Years (2005-2015)

Sloppy work and installation procedures characterized the building effort of SOME OF the contractors for homes in the Villages south of CR466 in the 2005 - 2008 time period. A POA sponsored committee inspected the vinyl siding on over 1500 houses in the Villages and worked with contractors to replace the vinyl siding on many of these homes.

The Developer tried to force a $168,000 repair bill on the residents of CDD4 to repair a sinkhole on his Nancy Lopez golf course. Although he eventually paid the bill, the Developer cited a mistake by his and VCCDD attorneys who failed to complete the necessary paperwork to formalize the requirement that residents pay. Had this paperwork been completed properly, residents would have been stuck with the bill.

The Villages is part of the Lightning Capital of the United States. The POA lead an initiative that history shows well over a century of experience demonstrates that lightning protection systems are effective in mitigating the potential disastrous effects of lightning provided that they are designed, installed, and maintained in accordance with the national standard on lightning.

POA discussions demonstrated that the Free Wind Mitigation program would reduce home insurance bills for homes in The Villages which meet certain requirements for sturdy home construction. Many residents benefited from those inspections and reductions in their homeowners insurance.

The POA was in the forefront in advocating action on defective roof shingles purchased from Owens Corning. This action continued for SEVERAL years prior to all the problems being resolved.

In response to complaints of loss of Freon in the underground copper tubing lines of some air conditioning systems, the POA, in conjunction with contractors found the problems attributable to a number of factors including poor copper piping, bending of pipes to go underground, and bad welds.

There have been issues with cell phone reception in some homes and in some areas of the Villages thought to be caused by lack of cell towers. In working with the companies, the POA has made limited progress with some companies involved.

The POA brought to the attention of residents a voluntary recall of GE dishwashers because an electrical failure in the dishwasher's heating element could pose a fire hazard. Those involved were able to obtain a replacement.

The POA has established a committee to research the possibility of a self-insured fund of interested homeowners to cover the expense of sinkhole losses that are not catastrophic and thus not covered under their homeowner's insurance policy.

V - LEGAL

A. Early Years (1975-1995)

An important additional amendment brought the POA into conformity with Chapter 723 (the Florida Mobile Home Act) which designates a home/property owner association in subdivisions as the legal representative of residents. It also grants the right of first refusal or purchase of recreational facilities and/or other property serving the subdivision in the event the owner/developer offers them for sale.

Sales advertisements by the Developer's staff promised free services and privileges for residents depending on when they purchased their units. These services and privileges included free trail fees, free RV storage, and garbage and trash pickup, free cable TV, and protected deed restrictions for residents who had purchased properties in The Villages by certain dates. When these promises were canceled by the Developer, the POA filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of affected residents. A 1991 settlement of the lawsuit "grandfathered" exempted residents from payment of the fees based on their property closing dates.

B. Mid Years (1996-2004)

See Early Years (1975-1995) & Current Years (2005-2015)

C. Current Years (2005-2015)

The Lawsuit Settlement - 2004-2008 - We started a Legal Action Fund to give us the flexibility to pursue legal actions when necessary. Villagers made generous contributions. The Fund was a critical resource in 2007 and 2008 when it was used to pay some of the legal expenses in the 2008 Lawsuit settlement with the Developer. Villagers achieved a friendly class action lawsuit settlement with the Developer in 2008 valued at $43 million. The key points of the settlement were: Provision for Reserve funds for eventual repair and replacement of our facilities north of CR466; provision for renovation of the recreation trails north of Hwy 446; creation of the AAC (Amenity Authority Committee) which allows residents elected by residents to make decisions about the expenditure of amenity funds north of CR466; and payoff of the Paradise Recreation Center renovation debt.

The POA feels strongly that the Chapter 190 Florida Statute law that created Community Development Districts (CDDs) should be reformed to eliminate abuses that we see here in The Villages. Specifically, we think that residents should be able to elect the supervisors in the Central Districts (the VCCDD and the SLCCD). These are the supervisors who make all the big money decisions in The Villages - and they are effectively appointed by the Developer of The Villages. Residents have no say in these matters. This is like Taxation Without Representation. The POA is working to change the Chapter 190 law.

The District Manager thought it was unnecessary to publish the financial details of the two Center Districts, the VCCDD and the SLCDD. Prior to then the District Manager said that it was not important to provide that information to residents. Thankfully, the Center Districts now routinely publishes this information and includes it on their website (www.districtgov.org.

Some residents opt to pay off the bond on their home in full. For a time there was a miscalculation of the interest due at the time of payoff. Those making payments were being charged interest for the year (TO THE END OF THE YEAR?) following payment due to this error. The POA obtained a list of affected residents and former residents to advise them of this overcharge.

VI - DEVELOPER/SLCDD ISSUES

A. Early Years (1975-1995)

In a meeting with Gary Morse in 1985, POA officers were informed that management would no longer recognize the POA as the spokesperson for residents. Management voiced its support of the newly formed Community Improvement Council (C.I.C.). Meetings with management representatives and the POA to solve minor problems before they became major conflicts were suspended. At a later time meetings were resumed between POA representatives and a designated management employee.

In 1991, an unprecedented attempt was made to take over the POA when a slate of candidates was presented opposed to the continuation of the POA efforts in behalf of residents. The residents involved in the attempted takeover became members of the POA for the two months of November and December, and their dues were paid for by the Developer. These candidates were overwhelmingly defeated by a vote of residents. Some of the residents who were involved in the take-over attempt then formed the Developer supported Villages Homeowners Association (VHA).

B. Mid Years (1996-2004)

Issuing More Bonds - September 2002 - The POA is calling for this moratorium after the VCCDD voted, at its August, 2002, meeting to start validation proceedings on three bond issues amounting to $240 million. This includes $120 million for Recreation Revenue Bonds, $100 million for Utility Revenue Bonds, and $20 million for Solid Waste Revenue Bonds. This moratorium would be in effect until the Section 190 Law that created the CDDs is clarified on the issue of appraisals and resident approvals or until a voluntary plan addressing these issues is adopted by the Developer of The Villages.

Inflated Prices north of CR466 - October 2000 - Newspaper articles over the past year or so have claimed that the Section 190 law that created Community Development Districts (CDDs) is being abused by developers who compel their own hand-picked boards to buy developer property at inflated prices, without market-based appraisals, and without the approval of residents whose monthly fees will be pledged to pay off the 20- and 30-year bonds issued to purchase these facilities. This practice is facilitated by a combination of advisors, bankers, attorneys, and other operatives who are exempt from state conflict-of-interests laws in their dealings with developers.

The Orlando Sentinel's award-winning series of articles in October, 2000, pointed out that in the mid-1990s Villages property valued at $8.8 million was sold by The Villages Developer to The Villages VCCDD for $84 million. The property consisted of, among other things, retention ponds, guard shacks, landscaping areas, executive golf courses, recreation facilities, etc.

C. Current Years (2005-2015)

The Paradise Center - This recreation center on the east side of Highway 441/27 was deteriorating and an absolute disgrace. It was termite and rat infested, raccoons lived in the ceiling, mold was growing in many places, wallboard and ceilings were falling down, floors were bouncy, furniture was decrepit, and the VCCDD supervisors were almost oblivious to the pleas of residents to renovate. The POA campaigned strongly with Bulletin stories, a survey of residents, and strong advocacy in VCCDD meetings. The VCCDD eventually decided to proceed with a smaller-scale renovation than advocated by the POA, but, nevertheless, suitable. Today, the Paradise Center is beautiful.

Village residents enjoyed parades to celebrate their favorite holidays for years. The Developer decided to discontinue these parades. As a response, the POA drafted a petition stating: we cannot understand your reasons for cancellation and we strongly suggest that you make these reasons public. With no response, the POA stepped forward and sponsored the effort to continue the parades.

VII - LOCAL GOVERNMENT

A. Early Years (1975-1995)

See Mid Years (1996-2004) & Current Years (2005-2015)

B. Mid Years (1996-2004)

The CDD reform bill of 2002 sponsored by the POA in the Florida Silver Hair Legislature (FSHL) recent 2002 session in Tallahassee has again been given Priority status. The FSHL is a state-wide, non-partisan, not-for-profit organization dedicated to meeting the needs, interests, and rights of older Floridians as well as the general citizenry through advocacy and education. The organization meets annually in the chambers of the Florida legislature in Tallahassee and conducts a realistic legislative session. The POA bill addressed problems, abuses, and loopholes in the Chapter 190 law that created Community Development Districts (CDDs) in 1980. The POA bill has five parts, each dealing with problems in the Chapter 190 law, as follows:
  • Part I: Calls for the popular election of CDD supervisors by all residents in any areas administered by the CDD;
  • Part 2: Calls for a retention or dismissal vote for the CDD Administrator by all residents in any areas administered by the CDD;
  • Part 3: Calls for application of state conflict-of-interests regulations to all consultants, advisors, attorneys, etc. working with CDDs;
  • Part 4: Calls for approval by all residents in a CDD of the purchase of any property or facilities over a certain value and also for any related debt assumption by residents;
  • Part 5: Calls for the use of a market-based appraisal of any property or facilities in excess of a certain value that a CDD purchases.
This bill was passed overwhelmingly for a second year by FSHL delegates. This is a remarkable record for any bill. This shows a high level of concern among delegates to the FSHL about the abuses and problems with the Chapter 190 law. Delegates recognized that this is a state-wide problem that affects all Floridians, not just residents in The Villages or in CDDs.

Activity Policy Reversal - 2006 - The Center Districts voted to restrict residents from gathering to protest anything. A liability insurance policy for $1 million was also required 30 days in advance of any protest gathering. The POA opposed this action, calling it a violation of our Constitutional Rights of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly, and argued against it in the Bulletin. The Center Districts backed down and rescinded the rules.

Center District Financial Statement - 2004 - We were the first organization to publish the financial statements of the two Center Districts. Prior to that the District Manager said that it was not important to provide that information for residents. Thankfully, the Center Districts now routinely publish this information and includes it on their website (www.districtgov.org).

C. Current Years (2005-2015)

Passing One Sumter was one of the most beneficial voter's actions in years. It returned the county to its original roots wherein all county residents got to vote for all the county commissioners. The result is evident. Commissioner cooperation exists again and each district has its votes magnified fivefold for the good of the county as a whole. Taxes have been reduced, self-serving projects were reduced, canals dredged, wasteful items eliminated, and everyone benefited.

VIII - POA DEVELOPMENTS

A. Early Years (1975-1995)

In 1975 a group of concerned property owners met to consider options available to them which would provide a more effective means for addressing individual and/or group issues in collaboration with the Developer. The result of that meeting was the chartering of the ORANGE BLOSSOM GARDENS PROPERTY OWNERS' ASSOCIATION, INC. [the forerunner of the current Villages Property Owners Association (POA)] as a non-profit corporation on November 20, 1975. The objectives of the original charter and bylaws were to promote good will, friendship and understanding among residents, and to assist the Developer in establishing a community which would be beneficial to both the Developer and property owners. Amendments at a later date extended the objectives to include support of legislation at all levels of government which protect the rights of residents. Residents were also to be advised regarding any legislation that would affect their retirement lifestyle and property investment.

B. Mid Years (1996- 2004)

Bulletin Started September 2002 - Prior to the Bulletin the POA website consisted of a one page description of topics that hyper-linked to various articles. The Bulletin is displayed at (www.poa4us.org) each month and the Archives section displays the Bulletin back to 2002. It expanded from 4 pages in 2002 to the 24 pages we have today. The operation now has a budget of about $70,000 and advertising is covering a larger share of expenses. Huge strides in attracting advertising by hiring a paid sale person has made it cost-effective. This alone pays a significant portion of the Bulletin's expenses.

C. Current Years (2005-2015)

The POA developed a Special Discount Program for POA members sponsored by various Discount Partners in The Villages and the surrounding central Florida area.

The POA took the initiative to review the causes and outcomes of golf cart accidents. Utilizing this information, the POA promoted the idea of golf cart installing seat belts.

IX - CULTURAL

A. Early Years (1975-1995)

See Mid Years (1996-2004)

B. Mid Years (1996-2004)

The POA established the POA Hall of Fame (HOF) in 2004 to honor those who have made a significant contribution to the POA over the years. To date, sixteen have been inducted into the Hall of Fame

C. Current Years (2005-2015)

See Mid Years (1996-2004)

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