Legislation grants relief for time share associations
Economic forces combined so time share owners have walked away from their typical week-long ownership and left unpaid association dues.
At Tuesday’s Crow Wing County Board meeting, Jerry Steinke, Brainerd attorney, represented time share owners associations from the Breezy Point Resort complex.
Steinke has represented several time share owner associations as they sought legislative relief related to foreclosures.
In 2012, the Minnesota Legislature amended language allowing counties to use the authority of an examiner of titles to issue a new certificate of title for a time share interest instead of requiring a court hearing.
The move is expected to save time share associations money as abandoned time shares will be able to be resold more quickly.
Kathy Ludenia, Crow Wing County recorder, previously told the board the legislation was done largely for Crow Wing County.
In a letter to the county board, Steinke stated the life-blood of time shares comes with annual maintenance fees from owners. As some drop out, it puts more pressure on remaining owners. Because the time shares at the Breezy Point Resort complex were registered Torrens property, the foreclosure and six-month redemption period was followed by another step — filing a lawsuit in district court. At the end of the lawsuit and after getting a new certificate of title in the name of the owners association foreclosing on the property, the time share could be sold to a new owner.
Steinke told the board a significant number of time shares are of relatively low value and off-season weeks may sell for $200 after the depressed real estate market. Annual time share maintenance may be $650. Steinke said to foreclose may cost $2,550 for legal costs and fees and another $2,150 for the court action or $4,700 per time share. And then the owners association has to pay to market the time share to a new buyer. Steinke reported it may take the time share owners association about seven years to recoup its costs for one unit. In the bigger picture, Steinke reported to the board, the resort industry in the county “relies on the continued economic survival of these time share owners associations.”
Joyce Bzoskie, president of Whitebirch Inc., Breezy Point Resort’s parent company, with 225 units representing more than 10,000 owners, they were pleased with Steinke’s assistance and feel strongly about this new legislation.
The issue was previously before the board in June. At the time, Commissioner Paul Thiede questioned the rationale to do it, saying he was in a position to take Ludenia’s recommendation but he wasn’t sure the legislation was accomplishing and a lot of people would be affected by it. Thiede said he didn’t understand the logic and asked to have the item removed from the consent calendar for routine business and brought back with answers to his concerns. Tuesday the matter was discussed at length during the committee of the whole meeting, where the board meets as its own committee before the regular board session.
Tuesday, Thiede said he probably wouldn’t have raised an issue if he had been told about it ahead of time. Thiede said he was accused of not knowing the businesses in his district and he took offense at that. And Thiede said it was the third meeting in a row and again a matter of being surprised by positions taken by the county’s employees. Thiede said that didn’t mean he didn’t appreciate how this issue affected Breezy Point.
“So that’s my bone of contention,” Thiede said, adding he didn’t think it was too much to expect to know a bill of this magnitude is out there.
Bzoskie said she didn’t know the correct protocol and never dreamed she was supposed to come to the commissioners. Steinke said the original legislation was statewide and didn’t apply to county boards and then the bill was changed so counties could opt-in. Steinke said when that happened they had just a couple of days.
In other business, the board:
Heard Administrator Tim Houle summarize budget work thus far and noting there isn’t a thriving recovery and while the economy may have bottomed out, circumstances have not really changed for people. “I think it will be a challenging budget year,” Houle said.
Met in closed session for labor negotiations.
Accepted lowest bids to cleanup two properties, one that has been used like a landfill for a number of years and another with 100 tires.
Received the 2012 Blue Ribbon Award for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. The award recognizes the work of the county social services, the Crow Wing County Child Protection Team and Child Abuse Prevention Council. The certificate of merit, presented by Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota, is based on nomination and in recognition of work in awareness, maintaining prevention and efforts to strengthen families. Fifty-five counties and four tribes received the award in the past 10 years.