By Heather Mullinix
It's been a difficult year for the Lake Tansi Property Owners Association, with the association facing financial difficulties, looming debt and a community that was divided over the sewer issue. But the association is closing the year on a high note, POA board members and management reported during the annual meeting Oct. 19.
"The POA is alive and doing well," General Manager Gary Dillon told the membership. "This is made possible by the efforts of the board of directors, the employees and those of the membership who volunteered their time and talents to make this a great place to live."
Chairman David Kerr recalled his previous annual address that spoke of hope of bringing the community together and rising above the challenges, difficulties and mistrust that had spread through the community.
"That was last year," Kerr said. "That was my hope. Well, I'm pleased to stand before you tonight and say that I believe that all that I had hoped for has largely occurred. It's been wonderful to watch this community come together with open, inquisitive minds. I have seen such a turn, and people threw themselves into it and said 'What the heck, we're going to do this. We're going to bring Tansi back to where it was.'"
Farrell Odom and Mike Dalton will take their place on the Lake Tansi Property Owners Association Board of Directors in January. POA members also voted down a proposed $25 dues increase.
The election results were announced at the annual membership meeting Oct. 19 at the Thunderbird Recreation Center.
Odom received 1,606 votes and Dalton received 1,495 votes. Frank Kirst received 759 votes.
Odom and Dalton will take the place of Kerr and board member Kris Burk, whose terms expire Dec. 31 at midnight.
The proposed dues increase failed with 1,250 voting against and 893 voting in favor.
Kerr told the board, "We're gaining on dues. Just keep on working for that."
The last dues increase was approved in 2005 at $10 per year. A $35 per year dues increase was approved in 2003.
WIth the failed dues vote, POA dues will be adjusted for cost of living, as provided for in the association's bylaws. That will bring 2013 dues to $211.33, up from 2012's $208.
The board also approved a budget for 2013, which is balanced and provides $250,000 to pay toward the POA's debt as part of a plant to reduce debt by $1 million in five years.
Larry Williams, treasurer, reported the POA had already made positive steps toward paying down its debt, with a $250,000 improvement in a loan used to manage operating expenses over last year.
Also, the POA is on budget to end the year on a positive note, despite numerous challenges during the year, primarily the withdrawal of the Hiawatha Manor East and West POAs from its agreement with the POA for amenity use. The POA faced an income reduction of $150,000 in the 2012 budget.
"If they had backed out totally and we didn't collect the first quarter, it could have been a $200,000 loss," Williams said.
Also, the POA was facing a tax liability of $210,000 on the payment from the city of Crossville for use of water from Lake Tansi. The board opted not to pay the taxes while it researched its options, something that was criticized in earlier meetings during the year as a gamble that could cost the association more in fines and interest.
Kerr was happy to report that gamble paid off.
"Guess what, we were right," Kerr said. "We got a refund and we get to accrue that payment over time."
The city of Crossville paid the POA $550,000 as part of an agreement for harvesting water from Lake Tansi for use in the city's drinking water system.
Danny Plummlee, president, said, "We did what we always do in the face of challenges. We rolled up our sleeves and went to work. We started to make a plan with our stated goal of protecting our assets."
Expenses were reduced $170,000 and changes were made in management. Volunteers helped fix up amenities, including the putt putt golf course, the indoor pool, the country club and the marina. A financial advisory committee was formed to develop the five year debt reduction plan.
"The plan has helped us see the light at the end of the tunnel," Plumlee said. "We now have hope the debt can be reduced or even eliminated."
Ricci Saeger, chairman of the financial advisory committee, said the POA used $130,000 a year to service its debt.
"That's money we feel would be better used for capital expenses," he said.
Other positive financial changes include a reduction of the golf subsidy by half this year and the security department has worked with reduced staffing, still answering thousands of calls during the year. The department is ending the year with one person more than it began.
Community involvement was praised by all board members, who recalled unprecedented volunteer efforts not only to help fix up amenities, but also for other projects, such as several fundraisers to support the security department and the hugely successful FUNd Tournament to support golf course upgrades and other POA improvements, including the new public address system.
"The participation of the community has been outstanding," Kerr said. "Everybody just pitched in."
With a plan in place, Dillon said he was now moving ahead and would spend the winter months working on some ideas he believed would make 2013 a banner year for the community.
"We now have hope that we can get back to the business of recreation and fun," Plumlee said.
In committee reports, it was reported Bruce Cannon and wife, Katie, owners of The Beef and Barrel, The Blind Zebra and Red's Alehouse, are the new lessees of the country club facility. Kerr said the restaurant would be called Cannons at Lake Tansi. An opening date is not yet known as the business must obtain its liquor license, but Kerr reported it would be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for Thanksgiving and would be open from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. New Year's Eve. Reservations for those dates can be made by calling 456-9211. The restaurant will be closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.