2017 - Annual Fee Collection Process
More than 90% of our members have paid their fees and for that we are very appreciative for your continued commitment to McKenzie Towne Council and our community of McKenzie Towne.
MTC as you well know has an encumbrance on your property that is legally binding and a choice assumed by the buyer at the time of purchase. As part of any residential purchase agreement, the buyer’s lawyer will notify the buyer of the encumbrance and the requirements of this on the buyer. Additionally, upon moving to McKenzie Towne each homeowner is sent a “welcome package” expressing the concept of McKenzie Towne and the Residents’ Association known as McKenzie Towne Council (MTC). There is no option to opt out paying as the fees are part of your obligation when purchasing a home in McKenzie Towne, this is very clear at the time of purchase and I hope that real estate agents also communicate this at the time of sale. The Board also knows that many other nearby communities; McKenzie Lake, Douglasdale, New Brighton, Auburn Bay and Cranston to name but a few, have Resident Association fees.
Resident Associations are created by the developer of a community which was CARMA (now Brookfield Properties), in the case of McKenzie Towne. The rationale behind a Resident Association is to provide enhanced amenities and services to the community that are not provided as part of City of Calgary basic services funded through taxation. In the case of our Resident Association, our physical amenities are scattered throughout the community, unlike in the other examples above which are all behind a fence and on common property. This makes McKenzie Towne unique and different from all other communities and provides greater access and use to the amenities.
As some may point out, the City of Calgary has a taxation scheme for certain basic services. As indicated above, the fees collected are required to pay for the amenities and services provided by MTC. The annual fees collected go towards events, the upkeep of the facilities and amenities as well as for maintenance of parks:
Parks maintenance by the City of Calgary is normally done at a very basic level and doesn’t include weekly clean up of garbage or grass cutting. Additionally, MTC is also responsible for the snow removal on all of the pathways within McKenzie Towne. MTC conducts the enhanced maintenance on the parks because members have requested that we undertake this work to ensure the community looks beautiful. Have a look around during the summer and see all of the flowers that are planted. In the winter, absent the work of MTC, there would be no Christmas light displays or snow removal.
From an amenity perspective, MTC owns the following: Prestwick Common Fountain/Splash Park (opening soon)/Mechanical Building, clock tower in Inverness, Gazebo in Inverness, skating rink behind High Street, the rent for the Inverness mail boxes within the clock tower building, the park behind the electronic sign and the Towne Hall. All of these amenities are owned and maintained by MTC on behalf of resident members such as yourself. As a member, you get to enjoy these amenities. In the case of the parks, except behind the electronic sign, the land belongs to the City of Calgary and MTC operates on these lands under a legal agreement called an “Optional Amenities Agreement”. In some ways, it could be said, tax dollars have been paid to support the land that the amenities owned by the residents of McKenzie Towne are built. These amenities do not belong to the City of Calgary and MTC is responsible for maintenance and upkeep, which the fees go to support.
MTC provides many free events for our Resident Members as well as access to the Towne Hall for the use of the gym. Resident Members are allowed to register, at a reduced cost, for programming and courses that take place in the Towne Hall. We also provide reduced rates for the rental of banquet or meeting space to Resident Members.
The above amenities and services would never be provided by the City of Calgary under your property taxes. The decision by developers, in all new communities, to create Resident Associations is their way of ensuring that there is sustainability and viability in the community long after the developer has moved on and completed the development. This is the case of MTC, where the residents were able to take on the administration of MTC as volunteers much earlier than the developer expected.
The volunteer Board has gone to significant lengths to keep fees as low as possible and have held them the same the last few years. The Board meets monthly to set policies, procedures, and ultimately the overall budget for MTC. In some cases, Resident Members do not pay their fees which affects all of us as well as MTC in the ability to deliver services and maintain the amenities. At the end of September, we forward unpaid files to our law firm as part of the collection process. Although our Bylaws require us to only send one invoice, in order to be fair to our members and to ensure that the collection process is not invoked without exercising our due diligence, we take the following steps:
1) Invoice sent out May 17, 2017- indicating that fees are due by June 30, 2017
2) Phone/Text/Email message sent out August 21th 2017 - Fees increased to $222.82 as interest added for June and July.
3) Phone/Text/Email message sent out September 15th 2017 - Dated for September- Fees are increased to $224.23 as interest added for June, July and August.
4) Phone/Text/Email message sent out September 22, 2017
5) Phone/Text/Email message sent out September 26, 2017
6) We instruct Miller Thomson to begin the collection process by sending a demand letter and they choose the language of the letter which by legal necessity must be formal and clearly set out the debt and potential consequences of non-payment. These letters will be sent to home owners by Miller Thomson sometime after October 2, 2017. As part of the legal collection process, Miller Thomson adds their fees on to the original invoiced amount and eventually when payment is made to Miller Thomson only the annual fee plus interest is recovered by MTC. These demand letters indicate instructions on how to settle the account.
It should be noted that once a demand letter has been sent out by our lawyer, the fees can no longer be paid online or at the Towne Hall. We are not able to adjust the fees set by our lawyer. We also go to great lengths to allow for payment plans to be set up to allow those having financial difficulty the opportunity to pay their fees through a deferral program. These are individual to each member and are based upon circumstance. We go to great lengths to ensure multiple notices are sent to avoid any collection costs to our members.
As of October 1, 2017, there are 6,711 residences in McKenzie Towne that are invoiced to pay fees. Of that number, 434 have not paid and these files have now been forwarded to our lawyer to initiate the collection process. To those that have not paid, this may seem as an excessive repercussion to the fact the encumbrance was not paid on time. To those that have paid, the lost revenue has to be absorbed by our operations and within the budget. In the case of our 2017 fee collections, the delinquent accounts amount to an excess of $97,000. Through a tight budgeting process, the Board of MTC is very proud of the fact that fees have remained the same for many years despite rising operational costs. The Board, as resident members, also knows how important it is to keep our amenities well maintained and to provide a high level of service to our community. Absent the fee collection process, the revenue side of the budget is negatively impacted which ultimately means the Board has to re-examine our expenditures which then affects all of us.
Again our thanks to the overwhelming majority of members who have paid their fees for 2017. Without you, we would not be able to deliver the fantastic programming and services as well as maintain the amenities that you appreciate each day.