Live Oak Board President Peppered Over Cable Contract

Article Courtesy of The Tampa Tribune


Published December 21, 2008


NEW TAMPA - A standing-room-only group of Live Oak Preserve residents chided its homeowners association board Thursday for approving a bulk cable contract that will contribute to a $301,000 increase in its 2009 budget. 


"We don't want to pay for our neighbors' cable,'' resident John Carter after the homeowners association board approved a $3.1 million budget at its annual meeting.

During the meeting at the community clubhouse, angry residents peppered board president Rick Feather, who was hand-picked by the developer to serve on the panel, with questions about the board's decision to tie the community to a 15-year contract with Bright House Networks.

Bright House purchased the cable contract in June from Century Communications. The cable company is required to provide cable, Internet and home security monitoring services to as many as 1,590 units in Live Oak Preserve.

There are now about 1,100 households in the community developed by Engle Homes and managed by LandArc.

The board budgeted $1.14 million for the annual bulk cable contract, an increase of $8,000 from this year.

The increased cost drew whistles and murmurs from the crowd. Feather, who negotiated the contract, encouraged residents to look at the deal from a positive perspective.

"If you were paying [for cable] based on 1,100 homes, you would be paying more," Feather said.

Feather, an Engle Homes employee who doesn't live in Live Oak Preserve, said the homeowners association has been talking to Bright House officials about the possibility of adjusting parts of the contract. He declined to provide details.

Residents are allowed to choose their own service providers, however, they are still required to help pay for the Bright House contract.

Homeowner dues will increase next year to $491 per quarter, which will mean a $188 annual increase per household. For the first time association fees will be due on a monthly basis. Homeowners will be required to pay $163.79 per month starting in January.

The past two years homeowners have paid $444 each quarter to cover association fees such as cable, Internet service, home security monitoring, security service and common areas maintenance for the clubhouse, pool, trash removal, street lights and others.

Feather said the homeowners association plans to increase funding for gate repairs, pool cleaning, clubhouse janitorial services and payroll for an on-site property manager and an assistant.

The homeowners group also budgeted additional money to cover the cost for postage, legal fees and bad debts from foreclosures, short sales and residents delinquent on homeowner fees.

In a surprise move, Feather announced the three-member hand-picked homeowners association's board of directors was inviting two Live Oak residents to join the panel, increasing its membership to five.

Joining Feathers and board members Lauren Arcaro and Keith Donnelly will be Amy Warenyk of Willow Bend Village and Frank Micallef of Maplewood Village. Warenyk, who attended the meeting, was invited to sit with the board after her name was announced.

Zuriel Cabrera, the Weatherwood Village association president who has been a vocal opponent of the bulk cable contract, said after the meeting he was disappointed with the outcome. He said he hoped the board would have shown greater responsibility to reduce the financial burden heaped on homeowners.

Cabrera said he was aware of the board's plans to add two residents to its ranks, but the balance of power remains with Engle Homes.

Earl Myers of Willow Bend said he was pleased by resident turnout and their desire to have their voices heard.

"If this board got anything out of this meeting, they learned they need to be more communicative with this community," Myers said.