Home invasions. Smashed windows. Cars looted. Packages stolen off porches. Vandalism in the parks. That's what residents are facing in one of our valley's newest communities.
But now, they have a new fear: How the homeowner's association is spending their money. Contact 13's Darcy Spears has more in this HOA Hall of Shame.
There are about 11,000 homes in the Mountain's Edge Master Association. The HOA collects nearly $4 million dollars from homeowners every year. And a big chunk of that is spent on "patrols."
An expense that should make sense in a community hit hard by crime. But the crimes continue which has homeowners asking, "what are we paying for?"
Darcy Spears: "Do you believe this is shameful?"
Jim O'Connor: "Absolutely. Without a doubt."
Jim O'Connor is as angry as anyone about the crime in his neighborhood but what he finds truly shameful are the patrols he and his fellow homeowners pay for, which he says are all bark and no bite.
That's because it's not really security. Even though it says that on the backs of their shirts, these guys are just a Courtesy Patrol.
"It's almost like window dressing," says Jim. "It's something to give the illusion that there is security but they really aren't security people."
Jim says he's personally put that to the test.
"I've told them about a suspicious vehicle. I've told them about kids riding motor bikes in the neighborhood. And they only thing they say to me is we can't do that. Call Metro."
So he wonders just what homeowners are paying for? We went to check on the patrols for ourselves. We found one guy strolling around the park.
Darcy: "You just walking around keeping the peace?"
Guard: "Something like that."
And another guy hanging out in his truck across from some vacant land. He starts truck and takes off as soon as he sees our camera.
"I don't feel these are here to protect me," Jim explains. "I feel they're just riding around looking at the neighborhood and it's just a waste of money."
Money the HOA wants more of as they seek to increase their courtesy patrols.
Jim showed us the Mountain's Edge budgets.
"Just for the Patrol Service it's budgeted for $461,844 dollars this year in 2016."
And that's not all. nThere's more money to patrol each park. And for vehicles too. The HOA is proposing over $840,000 in 2016 for patrol services.
We reached out to the Mountain's Edge HOA board President and Management company. And guess what? They would not answer questions on camera. Via email, they confirm the community patrol is not a security service, but they claim, "The mere presence of these patrols demonstrably lower crime in the neighborhoods that are part of our association." The entire statement is below.
In response to the recent spike in crime the HOA sent this survey to see if homeowners wanted more vehicle patrols.
"If they add another patrol it's going to cost every household $4.50 a quarter," Jim explains. "Well, if you multiply that out times 11,000 households, you're talking $198,000. If they add two more, you're up to $396,000 a year."
Add that to the existing $840,000 and you get $1.2 million Mountain's Edge homeowners could spend on Courtesy Patrols.
"It's almost like they believe we are their cash cow," says Jim. "They got to remember one thing. It's our money! Not theirs!"
Jim says it doesn't add up. Two Toyota Tacoma pickups would cost about $65,000. And the other $330,000?
"For salary and gas?" Jim asks. "You gotta be kidding me. Where's this money going?"
He worries that the HOA is spending a ton of money on a fake solution to real crime.
These are the two statements provided to Contact 13 via the property management company:
Las Vegas (January 29, 2016) -- The Mountain's Edge Master Association exists to preserve the nature and character of the community, while providing services and amenities to residents that connect people, protect and enhance property values, and create neighborhoods that truly feel like "home." The safety of Mountain's Edge residents is of utmost concern.
What are the roles/duties of the patrol staff? Courtesy patrol or security service?
The Mountain's Edge Community Patrol is a team of 18 patrol staff that maintains two patrols on the streets within Mountain's Edge Master Association, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. The mere presence of these patrols demonstrably lower crime in the neighborhoods that are part of our association. In addition to patrolling, our patrol staff responds to every homeowner call for service. Typical calls are for noise complaints, suspicious vehicles, or suspicious persons. Our patrol staff also responds to vehicle accidents within the borders of the Association and routinely assists with police and fire response. Our community patrol is not a security service.
Homeowners were provided an opportunity to vote on increased patrols at a cost of $4.50/qtr for 1 additional patrol and $9.00/qtr for 2 additional patrols. That would bring in $198,000 to $396,000 per year. How will that money be spent and what is the justification?
The premise of the question is inaccurate. In the fall of 2015 the Board of Directors formed an ad hoc committee of homeowners to study the effectiveness of our community patrol. As part of the committee's work, an electronic survey was sent to the 56% of households for which we had email addresses. The survey yielded an 11% participation rate. In that survey was a question about adding one or two patrols at an extra cost. The response was that, while a large majority wanted increased patrol presence, only half were willing to pay extra to get it. As a result of the committee's work, the Board of Directors authorized the use of targeted mobile patrol "hits", where the community patrol supervisor utilized both historic and current Metro crime mapping technology to identify areas of additional patrol at specific times, all at a greatly reduced cost compared to the addition of a 24/7 patrol. Final recommendations from the Patrol Ad Hoc Committee are listed below.
1. Modify patrol patterns of current mobile units
2. Modify post orders to allow patrol staff more flexibility in their responses to homeowner calls for service and observation of suspicious activity
3. Improve responses to calls for service that fall outside the normal scope of incident categories
4. Increase and improve communication with residents regarding patrol concerns
5. Put the patrol contract out to bid in 2016 and review every three years afterward
6. Increase coverage by adding mobile patrol hours when Board deems it necessary
We also have a question about the need for 51% of homeowners of record to be present to reject a proposed budget.
This is true for every homeowner association in the State of Nevada. The process is dictated in NRS 116.31151 paragraph 3:
Within 60 days after adoption of any proposed budget for the common-interest community, the executive board shall provide a summary of the proposed budget to each unit's owner and shall set a date for a meeting of the units' owners to consider ratification of the proposed budget not less than 14 days or more than 30 days after the mailing of the summaries. Unless at that meeting a majority of all units' owners, or any larger vote specified in the declaration, reject the proposed budget, the proposed budget is ratified, whether or not a quorum is present. If the proposed budget is rejected, the periodic budget last ratified by the units' owners must be continued until such time as the units' owners ratify a subsequent budget proposed by the executive board.
LAS VEGAS (February 4, 2016) -- LAS VEGAS - The Mountain's Edge Master Association is a private, nonprofit organization that exists to preserve the nature and character of the community, while providing services and amenities to residents that connect people, protect and enhance property values, and create neighborhoods that truly feel like home. We encourage any member with questions about Association operations to contact their board of directors and management staff so we may be able to understand and address any concerns.
"In accordance with Nevada law, the Association's annual budget is shared with members. We are committed to transparency in all budget-related matters. All monthly financial statements are available to homeowners either by request or by viewing them on the community association website. Members have always been welcome to meet with the board of directors and management staff to review the financial statements or budgets."
"Recent budget ratification and annual meetings of the members have been held at Doral Academy, which has a capacity of approximately 700. These meetings are traditionally lightly attended, with a peak attendance of 144 over the past eleven years. At our November 2015 meeting, we had 41 members in attendance."
"As a board, we remain committed to serving our members in a responsive and fiscally responsible manner."