A rebellion is brewing in the Village of Oak Creek as growing numbers of homeowners discover that VOCA (Village of Oak Creek homeowners Association) is quietly transforming itself into a glitzy golfers country club—at our expense, and without our approval. And they want to raise our assessments to pay for it.
At a time of rampant job loss, bankruptcies and foreclosures, plus a fifty percent drop in our investments and home equities—with many restaurants going broke—the VOCA Board of Directors is recklessly pouring over $606,000 of homeowner reserve funds into lavishly remodeling a long-subsidized, notoriously money-losing golf clubhouse restaurant, turning it into not one but two fancy bistros. Through clever budgeting, they’re doing it without our permission, but they want to raise our dues to pay for it.
The $606,000—more than a year’s income!—has cunningly been budgeted into two different years, to prevent the members from getting to vote on this rash expenditure—at a time of dangerous economic uncertainty and high investment risk! They tell us they don’t need our permission for this risky self-serving extravagance—which they are putting on the backs of the whole village, not just on the golfers, who are the main beneficiaries! They ignore the fact that our precious reserve fund is for necessities and emergencies, especially in tough times, not for fancy remodels.
In the last 4 years we owners have subsidized this loser VOCA restaurant to the tune of over $216,000, but now we’re told that it will suddenly become so profitable that it will pay back that giant $606,000 investment in only 4-7 years! That would be laughable if it were not for our hard-earned money—and if they didn’t want to raise our assessments to pay for it!
This notorious loser must face stiff competition from many fine local restaurants in a tiny market in a crippled economy. Where will an avalanche of needed new business come from? They don’t say. Many Villagers are struggling financially, not eating out. The VOCA Board refuses to reveal its Business Plan, if there is one, that supports this ludicrous accounting.
All the VOCA Board seems to care about is heedlessly building themselves a palatial country club for golfers and insiders to luxuriously eat and lounge in. Never mind the high cost or the crippled economy or who pays for this risky extravagance. And they’re off to a bad, high-overhead start by hiring a large salaried staff to run the place.
Just last spring, after VOCA forced its previous restaurant manager out and took over, we were assured it would cost only $75,000 to make needed upgrades and repairs and quickly re-open. But in the summer their true intentions leaked out, and they reluctantly unveiled their long-standing secret plan—with heavy self-serving spin, of course. The $75,000 suddenly became $606,000 and one restaurant turned into two. This fall they promised not to open the second one until the first had proved itself, but now, after only a few inconclusive weeks open, they’re rushing to open the second one this quarter.
An HOA only exists to serve ALL its members equally, but the big-spending VOCA Board has increasingly favored building a golfers country club—on the backs of the whole village, without their approval. And they want to raise our assessments to pay for it, although they admit they have sufficient present income (almost half a million bucks annually) to last them until at least 2020.
The VOCA board has actually threatened me and my friends and neighbors with its (our?) attorneys, denied us data and refused to publish or respond to our legitimate protests. It’s time that fellow VOCA homeowners understand what’s happening behind the scenes at the HOA they’re locked into paying for, before the recklessly-spending board tries—again—to increase the whole Village’s assessments to pay for their latest unneeded extravagance.
As a former writer for the SEDONA TIMES on a wide variety of essays, reviews, exposes and articles, many of them on the front page, my wife Deanne and I have been VOC residents for 18 years; I’m also a former TIME, Inc. staff Correspondent and author of a dozen books.Robert S. Wood
Village of Oak Creek (VOC) Sedona Arizona