Applying user fees will prevent gaming the system

Dennis Petrucelli

The people we are talking about are our elected leaders (simply politicians) and when a politician says let’s have a meeting, in this case the Project Wide Advisory Committee and Amenity Authority Committee meeting, it is likely an indication of a stall. The fact is that people will and have since Day One gamed this system we call “our amenities.” Property owners who rent out their homes and the Developer profit greatly from renting at the expense of other village residents. Renting has gotten so out of hand here in The Villages, advertisements requesting renting of just one room are often found on the web. By allowing renting the promised lifestyle has been greatly altered for this retirement community.  

Presently, in our tee time system a renter and resident have parity. Think about that a resident who was told that in order to gain the privilege of access to the “Village lifestyle” needed to pay a non-negotiable high premium price on a home and take the home as is.  How many residents do you suppose were given a choice by an agent that an alternative to avoid taking any financial risk of buying a home was paying rent on a monthly or annual basis? Further, it was an intentional avoidance by the Developer to allow Property owners the right to assign their amenity rights to others. You question this statement.  Then ask yourself why it is that The Villages clearly states a resident cannot assign their trail fee rights to others? Why the contradiction? What is the difference? I’ll tell you, the difference is in the details of who profits from rental transactions.  

Applying user fees for renters and guests will result in bringing in needed additional income. It is the right thing to do, and the fair thing to do. It also is an effective method of stopping people from gaming the system. We simply do not have any accounting of how many people ride free on one amenity fee nor in fact if some are paying an amenity fee at all.  We do not have any control on who is granted the right to our amenities. User fees paid by renters and guests is the financial responsible thing to do in order to meet future budgetary needs; especially since we have no power to control spending.  

If residents allow its leaders/politicians to ignore this suggestion the game playing will continue because people are very creative in finding ways to milk a system for all its worth. Applying user fees will prevent gaming the system. If residents allow its leaders/politicians to ignore this suggestion and remove the amenity fee cap be prepared for an onslaught of increases that will fall solely on village residents. The amenity fee in reality is a tax and politicians all believe it is a taxpayer’s patriotic duty to pay more taxes.  Politicians however take delight in wasteful spending due to their lack of creativity and plain laziness. They believe throwing money at a problem is all that is required. We have innumerable examples of wasteful spending locally, state-wide and nationally. 

This entire issue boils down to the fact that Villages residents paid and will continue to pay for our amenity’s infrastructure and its required maintenance. User fees for renters and guests is a logical progression ensuring residents are not solely responsible for carrying this financial burden. If renters or guests desire access, then they should pay for the privilege.  The extent to which they use our facilities rests on the economic function of elasticity.  But in no way should they ride free on a homeowner’s amenity rights nor should such rights be assignable to others, nor should others be granted amenity right access without transparent proof that they are shouldering their share of the financial burden. 

Residents have a right to demand that user fees to be paid by renters and guests requesting access to residents facilities, and our elected leaders are responsible for seeing it is carried out. The responsibility for all of this rest with our elected leaders who were elected to protect the sole interest of village residents and no others. The only thing preventing this logically sound and economic effective principle from being implemented is politics.

Dennis Petrucelli is resident of the Village of Bonnybrook.