Show Me My Money
My first house was a tract house. The phase my home was in had been completed and the builder was in a hurry for all of us in that phase to close escrow. On the day we were supposed to go to escrow to fund it and sign the final papers I stopped by the tract to see how things were doing. Some guys from the electric company were working in the street. It seemed that the power would not be connected to these new houses for a few more weeks.
At escrow I explained that I wasn’t sure what good this house would be to me until it had some power. Escrow contacted the builder who said they would be happy to pay my interest until the power was hooked up. I took that deal and moved in. For the next few weeks it was like camping. But we were all very happy to have moved into our new homes. Power or no power.
My neighbors who moved in at the same time, all with no power just like me, didn’t get the same interest paying offer that I did. They didn’t ask for it and it wasn’t offered to them.
I had a friend who did customer satisfaction on the big production homes in Crystal Cove. They had the same deal on their warranty work. If you asked for it to be fixed, they fixed it. They didn’t point out things that needed fixing.
Years later I built my current home up in Diamond Crestview. Our neighborhood had an assessment district created to provide the utilities. Our lot had a bond on it. We had a bit of trouble with the payments. Things like late charges on a late notice before we’d ever seen a bill. Then one year I got a letter telling me, “Because of a surplus we didn’t owe that year’s payment.”
I wrote our city treasurer a letter asking three questions. How much did you raise for our assessment district? How much did you spend on our assessment district? How much is left over? In a while I got a letter detailing the surplus. I asked one more question. Can I have my share back please? After a while along came a check.
When I talk to my neighbors about this, it’s like they never heard of it. Maybe it’s just like my first house. If you ask for it, they’ll do it for you but they’ll never offer.
When these assessment districts are completed, aren’t they audited? The job isn’t done until the books are all wrapped up, including asking, how much did we raise, how much did we spend, and how much is left over?. Any surplus is the property of the owners assessed. It doesn’t matter if it’s $8.92 or $2,000. It still is their money.
So if you have been in an under grounding district that’s been done for a while, and haven’t gotten any checks, you could ask the city treasurer those three questions. Or maybe just one question; “Can I have my share of any surplus that exists in my assessment district?”
It may be if you have any money coming, you’ll need to ask for it.
JJ Gasparotti moved to Laguna Beach with his family when he was 11. He has loved it ever since. This column is the latest of his efforts to repay this hometown that has given him so much and allowed him to take even more.