Fine Refunds to Homeowners

Dear Homeowners, 

The records for fines that need to be refunded have been compiled.  It has taken a week to reverse engineer the Tops Pro 2000 Database which holds the records for the association.  

Legal Background
In July of 2017, while performing an audit of records requested, it was discovered that Sterling Green Community Improvement Association did not have the Authority to assess fines against the homeowners of the community.  It was also discovered the association was creating Deed Restrictions in an ad hoc manner and without the consent of the Homeowners.  The question was submitted to counsel and upon review, the Association Counsel immediately advised the Manager/Treasurer that she should immediately cease all fines for Deed Violations and collections. 

Below is the email from the Association Counsel advising her and the Association of their legal duties.

Holt and Young Cannot Issue Fines.pdf

Shortly after that email, The Manager and Treasurer fired the law firm of Holt and Young. 

Technical Background
Tops 2000 Pro uses the Microsoft Access database engine for its storage of the Association Records.  Because the application operates using Microsoft Access, it is a single seat application.  This means that only one client machine (computer) at a time can access the records of the association at a time.  This is a severe limitation for the office to operate efficiently.  This will not be used much longer because of a different application we have selected to migrate to.

Method for Reconciliation
The following steps were used to achieve the tasks:

  1. Perform a Reports Export from Tops Pro 2000.
  2. Conduct Sanity Checks on the exported data to ensure the complete data set was exported.
  3. Since the Data exported did not match the records viewed in the client application, the records were copied from the data directory and were moved into a MySQL Server Database Engine.
  4. Queries were developed over the next three days with sanity checks performed along the way to ensure the data in the MySQL database engine was the same as being seen in the Tops Pro 2000 Client Application.  Good News, it was. 
  5. Queries were developed using joins between tables of the owners and the accounting details.  If an effort to be transparent, you can see via the links below the queries developed. 
  6. We have exported the Data into an Excel Spreadsheet with the names of the homeowners and the addresses masked to comply with the Privacy Requirements under Section 209 of the Texas Property Code.  The Data is in the following file:

    Data: Reconciliation Data Sets for Public Consumption.xlsx

  7. The final check will come when refunds are processed to ensure a homeowner is not issued a refund which they have already received.

Savings to the Association
We had estimated the extraction and manual review of each of the 2,236 account would consume the efforts of two clerks for a period of two weeks.  By performing these tasks using a database engine to perform the work, the association has saved (2 clerks at $20/hour X 80 hours) $3,200 in labor costs.  This labor cost would need to be outsourced while the current staff performed their already labor intensive duties that will be streamlined in the future.  This work has been performed already by a volunteer of the association.

Primary Queries Developed for the Reconciliation

  1. Reconciliation Query for Fines Issued.sql
  2. Reconciliation Query for Fines Paid.sql
  3. Reconciliation Query for All Fines Assessed and Paid with Notes.sql

Statistics of Data

The following represents the amount of fines which have been issued and paid by the homeowners since July 27 of 2013.

Total Amount in Fines Issued: $390,226.97
Total Number of Fines Issued: 4,366
Total Number of Homes which received fines by Association: 1,239
Total Amount in Fines Paid (and To Be Refunded): $63,520.53
Total Number of Fines Paid: 574
Total Number of Homes which paid fines by Association: 413

Plan Going Forward

Once the new Board of Directors get settled in, (vacancies filled and officers appointed), the Board of Directors can/may proceed with the vote to begin issuing checks to the Homeowners.  Any accounts with past due assessment, will be settled before any refunds will be issued. 

More details will follow as we get closer to that point.

Bylaws and Deed Restrictions
Because of the issues laid out above, we have to ask for your consent to implement the new Bylaws and Deed Restrictions.  This will be done by an election with your vote.  Voting will be done electronically as well as in person to accommodate all of the community.  Ballot will be in English and copies in Spanish will also be available.

Let me really candid.  The rules which govern this association has been broken so many times, the association has no choice but to create a new and fresh set of rules which will comply with the current Texas law.  In most sections of Sterling Green, this will require 67% of each section to ratify the changes in the Deed Restrictions.  In some it will require merely 50%.  This is based on which section of Sterling Green you reside.  It is possible that if one section did not ratify the votes of the new Deed Restrictions, then that section’s property values would fall while the others increased.  This is why we have to ask for the community’s help in this. 

We have a tough road ahead of us but it is the only way we can move forward with preserving the values of the homes in Sterling Green.  

This fall the voting will commence.  Thank you for your patience and if you have questions, please submit them via email and I will answer them when I can.  

Tom Olson
Sterling Green Community Improvement Association

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