Harlingen Man Wants Homeowners Association's Spending Double-Checked

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HARLINGEN – A  Rio Grande Valley father is unhappy with how his homeowners association is spending. He says he wants to know where every nickel is going.

Joseph Lucio says when he signed to live here with Southwest Properties, he agreed to become a member of the condo's homeowners association. He says he and others who live here pay a relatively high amount into the HOA's pot.

"I'm paying $178 a month and then annually it's about, I believe close to $14-1,500 annually," he notes.

Lucio says he and some of his neighbors started noticing some changes in the budget this year. In 2016, the HOA board was spending a total of $182,676 annually.

When he went to a board meeting last month, he received an outline of the budget showing the board was spending $236,728 annually.

According to the HOA budget breakdown, those extra dollars are being used for landscaping. Lucio says he doesn't see any improvements in the landscape.

"As far as the grass, we have really bad patchy grass. It doesn't grow completely 100 percent. Our shrubs, they aren't well-kept," he says.

Lucio says he asked for an audit as required by HOA bylaws.  He says it would show where the money is being spent, who actually received it and what the homeowners get for it.

"It has to be an outside entity from the association. It can't be anybody related to the association, board member, anything like that," he adds.

But Lucio says he cannot get anyone in the HOA board office to speak with him.

CHANNEL FIVE NEWS reached out to the HOA board at Southwest Properties. First, we got a busy signal on the phone.

Then we arrived at the office to ask where this money is going and if the board would run an audit. We were refused a response right away.

A representative for the group said, "No comment," and closed the door on us.

Lucio says he plans to fight for an audit at the next public board meeting.

We wanted to know how exactly homeowners associations work. In order for an HOA to be formed, a petition among property owners in its subdivision must be approved.

According to Texas state law, the petition must be approved by at least 60 percent of property owners.

If it is approved, it becomes binding to all property owners in the subdivision.

State law says the HOA must be a nonprofit organization. An HOA board of directors or trustees must be elected or appointed in accordance with the applicable provisions of the restrictions and the association's articles of incorporation or bylaws.

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