From the Press of Atlantic City:
Spring has arrived and, for most residents of southern New Jersey, the winter and its record snowfall are just an unpleasant memory.
But many people who own condominiums and townhouses are getting reminders of just how much it cost to plow that snow off their streets – in the form of additional assessments.
Donna Kelly, a resident of London Court II in Egg Harbor Township, said she got a letter from her homeowners association that she is expected to pay more than $300, her share of the community’s snow-removal costs.
“These are bad times financially, and coming up with that extra money is hard,” said Kelly, who has lived in the complex for four years. “They didn’t give us a lot of notice, either.”
London Court II spent about $50,000 on plowing snow this past winter; it usually budgets $6,000 to $7,000, Gurwicz said. Owners of the complex’s 158 units were assessed a share of the costs, based on the size of their homes.
The residents of London Court II are not the only homeowners being forced to pay extra for snow removal.
A letter sent to the 490 owners at Society Hill at Galloway II stated the homeowners association had budgeted $25,000 for snow removal but had spent about $100,000, “or approximately $1,370 for every inch of snow Mother Nature dealt to us.” Homeowners were assessed an extra $150, which could be paid out in six $25 installments.
Associations kept their snow-removal budgets low for the winter of 2009-10, hoping it would be relatively dry like the last five winters, said Michael Mendillo, president of the Wentworth Group, which manages nearly 75 communities in southern New Jersey.
The storms put “a huge financial strain, not only on the communities, but on the vendors,” Mendillo said. “It snowed, it needed to be removed, and somebody needs to be paid.”
Some communities haven’t crunched the numbers yet or are waiting to see how other 2010 expenses play out. The Woodlands in Hamilton Township is assessing its 766 homeowners for other emergency expenses, but hasn’t gotten to the snow-removal part, said property manager Brenda Morrison.
“We’re just taking care of expenses we couldn’t meet for 2009,” Morrison said.
But the community where she lives sent her a $375 special bill for getting rid of the snow, Morrison said.
“Unfortunately, our country as a whole, over a period of decades, went with the mentality of living above our means,” Mendillo said. “Now we have to go back to the basics and prepare for that rainy day.”
Or for the next snowy winter.