Copper Ridge Community Homeowner’s and Treasurer Request Financial Records & Better Oversight.
In the state of Florida, some property management companies have complete control over HOA community bank accounts. In some cases, the board members themselves have no oversight that is of equal significance over the property management company.
In such a scenario, homeowners are left with the cost of filing a civil court action in order to gain any meaningful access to financial records. A similar case in the state of Florida is now taking place in the Copper Ridge Community in Valrico. A complaint was filed by two of the homeowners in the Copper Ridge Community over the financial records not yet provided to the community’s Treasurer.
According to documented email records from Rachel Mayer Regional Director LCAM at FirstService Residential, who stated that FSR’s (FirstService Residential’s) “Treasury department is responsible” in relations to authority over community bank accounts and accounts payable system Avid Xchange.
When asked for access to Avid Xchange accounts payables system, and the Copper Ridge Community bank accounts, by the Treasurer of the HOA board and community corporation, to review invoices and receipts, the initial response she received from FirstService Residential was that review of the bank accounts themselves would not be available.
In their response they stated, “We can certainly add you both as approvers in Avid. You would need to add as an agenda item and be added as signors on the Bank accounts, your name(s) will appear on the checks written for the association verses the agent signor for FirstService. This still does not mean you have access to the any online banking information. Associations bank statements are included in the full financials every month, along with reconciliations. Checks or no longer included for fraud prevention.” Link to this email response.
The Treasurer previously stated that, “no one smart enough wants to account or sign off on expenses when they can’t verify the expenses going through the bank accounts and accounts payable. Anyone in this position could potentially leave themselves open to financial discrepancies that they aren’t able to verify and defend against.”
However, FSR is not immune from Fraud from within. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, FirstService Residential DC Metro LLC. was found to have violated the provisions of the regulations of the board or Chapter 23.3 (54.1-2345 et seq) of Title 54.1 of the Code of Virginia. One of their penalties was to receive a 60 days license suspension for actions inconsistent with laws and regulations as stated in this consent order.
Official Request for Financial Records
In another event on May 23rd 2022, the Treasurer of the Copper Ridge Community HOA board submitted an official request via certified mail to the property management company FirstService Residential stating “Hi Vince I am making an official request for a detailed list of invoices, receipts, images of checks for the dates of 2/1/2022-5/23/2022 for all banking accounts under Copper Ridge Community. You informed me that I would have to make the request each time I needed to review the invoices in checks since they would not automatically be sent to me.
I would also like to request the financials, transactions, invoices, receipts and the petty cash reconciliation forms from 2015 to 2022. The board has also mentioned a discretionary spending fund for anything under $1,000.00. Please submit the financial statements, invoices, receipts, copies of checks and petty cash reconciliation for this as well from the years 2015 to 2022.”
In addition, in a separate email to the property manager Vince Pino at FirstService Residential, and CC’d to the Copper Ridge Community HOA board, the Treasurer clarified her request stating, “I wanted to clarify that this is not a repeat request of what has already been sent, but only for the invoices, receipts, check images for the dates of 2/1/2022 – 5/23/2022. The second request is for the petty cash reconciliation and discretionary funds account for the years of 2015-2022. If you need any clarification to save time and expenses feel free to contact me. This request has been sent through certified mail and was delivered on May 24th at 10:18am.”
In response, the Treasurer received a reply from the Regional Director at FirstService Residential, Rachel Mayer, LCAM stating, “I would like to schedule some time to speak with you. I am happy to answer any questions you may have about Copper Ridge Financials. You have made records request and some of the items you are requesting are in the full set of monthly financials. Let me know a few days and times you are open and we can schedule.”
In which the Treasurer replied with, “I am happy to speak with you but would rather keep all of our communication through email. Unless, you agree to have all of our phone conversations recorded. I have been falsely accused of making up lies on the board so I am taking these measures to protect myself.”
Unfortunately, that did not seem to be an option for Rachel Mayer as her reply stated, “This is just a conversation between us, pertaining to your records request, trying to get to the root cause. If you leave a phone number and a good time, I will reach out.”
Since this date, additional records request has been submitted to FirstService Residential and the Copper Ridge Community HOA Board. To date, not all requested documents have been received by the Treasurer and homeowner’s legal council.
This investigative report is a developing story, some of the Copper Ridge Community homeowners have filed a civil court action complaint over financial transparency and a forensic audit. Similarly, the HOA board has filed a civil court action to stop homeowners from disputing the actions taken prior to the last election on June 7th 2022 when the by-laws were amended without any notice to the homeowners in order to increase the threshold for meeting an election quorum.