The following statement was sent to The Eagle from the Baca Grande Property Owners Association regarding the proposed Town of Baca Grande.
Dear BGPOA Members:
We, your board of directors, have been conversing with many of you and continue to hear your thoughts regarding the pending petition to form a town [of Baca Grande], which has been filed in the Saguache County District Court.
Some of you have asked us for clarification on details, some have already done your own research to form opinions, some have inquired about the underlying motivation of the petition, and some are uncertain or concerned about what may happen. So, we are reaching out to let you know we appreciate your engagement, we share your concerns, we’ve been attending the meetings related to this matter, we’ve researched various avenues related to associations, townships, and districts, and we’ve sought the advice of general counsel to answer some of your more detailed questions.
First and foremost, we don’t have all the answers and won’t pretend that we do; however, we commit to continue investing the time to find answers and to educate our community. We’ve collectively volunteered as board members to help our community and to contribute, along with your efforts, in improving our community. We take our responsibility to the Association, to you our members, in earnest.
With respect to those responsibilities, and based on multiple concerns pertaining to the petition to form a town, which may materially impact members as well as the nature of the Baca Grande, our general counsel has filed a motion to intervene and a motion to dismiss with the Saguache County District Court. This should not be construed to mean we are against different ideas or even exploring various paths forward; however, our responsibility is to protect the property values of our members and preserve the desirability of the Baca Grande.
We feel the petition as filed and currently pursued poses significant risks to our collective future. We are open to different approaches. We believe it is constructive and healthy for the community to research, discuss, and explore various responsible paths forward in a deliberate manner which may help us collectively provide needed services, maintain our property values, maintain our way of living, and preserve the unique rural nature of the Baca Grande. We also believe any such effort should ensure up front, with the utmost rigor and care, that these goals can be achieved in a cost-effective, equitable fashion.
There are costs and benefits, pros and cons, risk and rewards to any path forward. Ultimately it will be up to registered voters and Baca Grande Property Owners Association members to decide the most desirable direction. We hope you will remain engaged, participate, and educate yourselves on this matter.
For your review and the benefit of our continued conversations, please read the motion to intervene, the motion to dismiss, and frequently asked questions, below.
In the near future, we plan to host another informational exchange with members, and we will continue communicating with you as this situation evolves.
Alison McClure, Claudia Wolfe Sugandha Brooks, Diego Martinez, LeRoy West
Baca Grande Property Owners Association Directors
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: Would the formation of a municipal government (corporation) or town automatically dissolve the Association?
A: No. The BGPOA would exist within in a municipality or town just as it does within the county. Many homeowner and property owner associations around the country exist within some of municipal government.
Q: Would the formation of a municipality mean we would have to pay city taxes and fees as well as assessments?
A: Likely. Municipal corporations (i.e., cities, towns, townships, boroughs, villages, etc.) are incorporated by the state. The state’s constitution, statutes and/or legislature grants a municipality’s duration, rights, and powers for a specifically-defined area. Authorizing the municipality to administer local affairs such as establishing a police force, providing emergency services, and allowing for a municipality’s primary revenue streams such as taxes, service fees and fines. Among other sources, a municipality may also take on debt in the form of municipal bonds and obtain outside funding from central government or other entities in the form of grants.
Q: If the court decides the petition is valid, who gets to vote?
A: Citizens of Colorado registered to vote within Saguache County who reside within the proposed boundaries of the proposed municipality will be eligible to vote on the formation of a town or municipality.
Q: Why don’t all BGPOA members get to vote on this issue?
A: Per Colorado statute, this would be considered as a matter within a portion of Saguache County. Only voters registered in Saguache County and within the proposed boundaries of the municipality are eligible to vote. Registering to vote is a right; however, you must be eligible to vote within the state of Colorado, meet the requirements, and apply to register at least 29 days before an election. (For further information please reach out to the Saguache County Clerk and Recorder’s Office: 719.655.2512.)
Q: How many votes would it take for this matter to pass/fail?
A: This ballot issue would only require a simple majority of all ballots cast. In other words, if a total of ten eligible citizens chose to vote and six vote no, the measure fails. Conversely, if six vote in the affirmative, the measure passes. This highlights the importance of citizen and Member participation.
Q: If the motivation for this effort is to dissolve to the property owners association, then what is involved in that process?
A: This option is specifically addressed within the governing documents of the association, and authorizes members to consider such an issue in the event a municipality is formed.
- Specifically, Article XIV Section 14.2 of the Amended and Restated Bylaws titled states that “In the event a municipality is formed which includes the Development, the Members in Good Standing shall have the authority to vote at any membership meeting to transfer any and all Common Facilities, property and equipment to the municipality.”
Note: Membership meetings are not Board Meetings (and vice versa). The Annual General Meeting is an example of a Membership Meeting, and Special Membership Meetings are another example.
- Special Membership Meetings may be called at any time to consider reasonable business of the Association, either by a majority of the Board or by twenty percent of Members in Good Standing (Bylaws Section 5.2).
- Members in Good Standing would be eligible to vote.
- The Quorum requirement for Membership Meetings is twenty percent (20%) of Members in Good Standing (Bylaws Section 5.4).
- Per Section 5.8 of the Bylaws, once a Quorum is reached, a majority vote of ballots cast by Members in Good Standing shall prevail or decide the matter under consideration.
Note: There has been some misconception that Section 14.2 of the bylaws automatically “requires” a vote in the event a municipality is formed; however, that is not the case. Members shall have the authority to vote if they so decide. No vote is required, and dissolution is not required, nor automatic.
Q: If the POA were ever dissolved, what would happen to our greenbelts and other assets of the association?
A: It would be up to our members to decide the ultimate fate of these protected areas and other assets. Per the Tenth Article of the Articles of Incorporation: “In the event of dissolution…the assets of the Association shall be deemed to be owned by the Members at the date of dissolution, as part of their Lots, equally, unless otherwise agreed or provided by law.”
Note: The use of greenbelt areas is deed-restricted as open space, and that restriction would carry onward with the deeds. As mentioned elsewhere in these FAQ’s, members of the association are not required to transfer any, all, or even portions of the association’s assets to a municipality. As such, the greenbelts and parks could remain with the association in perpetuity, or, hypothetically, they could be transferred to a special district or a tax deductible 501(c)(3) organization.
Q: Does the Association board intend to raise assessments by thirty percent every year?
A: No. While it is our goal to establish a longer term plan, the budget process and establishment of assessments is required to occur on an annual basis per our governing documents. There has been no work to date on a budget for 2024, as such, any assertion regarding the direction of future assessments is not accurate.
Also, history demonstrates that the Baca Grande Property Owners Association has raised assessments only when necessary, and careful consideration has been given to its services and budget when doing so. The assessments for 2023 were raised the minimum necessary to have sufficient funds to perform deferred maintenance on equipment and buildings, address inflationary increases to the cost of services, as well as rebuild our reserves. The 2023 dues will be $640.90/year or $53.41/month, an increase of $12.33/month.
Q: Is the filing of this petition related to the association’s financial health?
A: No. Neither the Baca Grande Property Owners Association directors nor management are associated with origination of this petition. In fact, we are pursuing all responsible means to ensuring the long-term sustainability of our association, its equipment, and the assets held in common interest.
Q: Are the people behind this petition community members, and members in good standing of the Baca Grande POA?
A: With respect to all involved, we won’t comment on either matter.