During the recent few days I have been reminded that there are people out there in the Timber Ridge Subdivision who may not understand the changes that have happened to the pool and property at 3103 Rim Rock Trail. It’s been over 2 years now that the organization TRHOA, which previously owned the property, has been closed and I want to take the opportunity to give some information on why. If you are a resident of Timber Ridge please make sure and read the last paragraph.
If you drive by the property you will see a snapshot of what the property looked like when TRCA (Timber Ridge Community Association) took over. Yes, in two years we could have painted the buildings but that’s another story.
The story of the former owner, Timber Ridge Homeowners Association, begins over 30 years ago when the developer met with the original homeowners and asked them how they would like to manage a gift of 3 acres with a pool and tennis/basketball court.
The owners decided to make it a “NON mandatory” Homeowners Association. Great news right? No yearly assessments, no person running around measuring how tall your grass is? It sounded good at the time but it doomed TRHOA from the start.
TRHOA did manage to survive over 30 years and there were excellent, hard working people who gave many hours of time to ensure that the pool was filled and ready for swimming, but they were working against the odds.
When I agreed to help in late 2013 one of the first things I and my co-chair did was to do a Federal, State and Local public records search. We also looked through the files at the office, finding mostly older records from the 80’s and early 2000’s. There were more missing years of records than there were found. We were not granted access to the (then) current bank account or the previous years bank statements. What I and my co-chair had thought was going to be business as usual, came to a screeching halt.
It was then that I embarked on a self taught course on both “non mandatory” HOA’s and nonprofits in general. I read through Texas Code, I researched hours of tedious IRS regulations and reached out to people on websites. I attended workshops and took advantage of several free consults. I’ve since had several conversations with both former volunteers and former board members (those that don’t run screaming the other way) and I’ll do my best to give you a snapshot of what I found.
1.Financial Doom: You can’t run a HOA like a HOA if you don’t charge like a HOA. I’ve heard several people comment how well run it was at the beginning. Remember that the buildings and pool were brand new. Most homes were owned vs. rented and community identity was strong. TRHOA also started out with a loan, which if I remember correctly was $10,000 and received a substantial amount from the sale of some property. If there was a time where TRHOA solely survived on “Membership” fees only I’d like to know when.
2. Skill Sets: TRHOA depended on residents of Timber Ridge to run the Association like a HOA, without the skills and knowledge it takes to run a nonprofit. Not many people wake up and tell their spouse: “I’m going to learn how to run a nonprofit!”. If you ask around, you find today most HOAs hire a management company to run the day to day business side of their organizations. As I mentioned earlier, I spent 100’s of hours of research and I feel like I have just scratched the surface of what it takes to run a nonprofit. Actually the organization was a private Tennis and Swim Club. I don’t know what the IRS rules were before 2013 but now it would have fallen under the rules of a 501(c)7 membership nonprofit.
3.Records and the IRS:
a. It became evident that there was never a consistent management of the organization. There were times when it was called an NA (Neighborhood Association) but records officially changing the organizational format, bylaws changed to reflect that, even the bank accounts (unless I missed it in all those missing records) were not changed. The bylaws were never even changed to reflect that TRHOA lost its corporate status from lack of submission of required paperwork.
b. The final nail in the coffin was that there was no one watching the IRS and rule changes. The then BOD in @2007 missed a critical rule change that sealed the fate of TRHOA.
4. Lack of Support: Timber Ridge residents had over 30 years to make TRHOA successful. They could have built that dog park, walking trail, etc. but they didn’t. Even when they had donations such as the volleyball court, it was not kept up. They had good intentions yes, but it’s hard to squeeze out that much money and time from volunteers. Timber Ridge became (quietly) infamous for burning out volunteers. Again, trying to run a HOA without being a HOA and without properly trained volunteers failed.
When TRCA took over we had looked fully at our options and saw that a Community Pool had no chance of succeeding. We asked for volunteers and donations and were answered with a resounding no, no thanks. The remaining volunteers being ordinary hard working people like yourself could not come up with a way to raise the @$40,000 to rebuild the infrastructure needed to revitalize a community pool, it’s been hard to even get people to donate paint! (Which we still need.)
TRCA looks to continue to find ways to use the property for the San Antonio community’s benefit but we do have expenses we need to pay. We have openings both for Volunteers and Donors and can do some pretty exciting things with the property. Let’s make a difference and help Build Community.
One more point I want to make. For those who live in Timber Ridge, the property at 3103 Rim Rock Trail is not owned and has never been owned by the community. It is an asset owned and managed by the nonprofit Timber Ridge Community Association. If it should arise that TRCA needs to sell the property, the money will stay with the organization and be used for the organization’s purposes. No homeowner past, present or future, of the Timber Ridge subdivision has any claim to any assets or finances of TRCA. Thanks! Leslie Baldwin.