Article Courtesy of The
Published October 6, 2021
Jerry Schafrath, the Rock Springs Ridge Homeowners Association Treasurer since
2009, announced his resignation on the eve of the vote by RSR homeowners to
approve or disapprove the sale of the gopher tortoise conservation area –
otherwise known as the 51-acre parcel on 624 West Kelly Park Road.
Schafrath released the following statement to The Apopka Voice. It is entitled
“An open letter to Homeowners in Rock Springs Ridge and the City of Apopka”
“My name is Jerry
Schafrath and I am a current board member of the Rock
Springs Ridge Homeowners Association. I was elected to the
board in 2009 and have held the Treasurer position for the
entire time. First, I want to thank the homeowners for
electing me over the years to represent them. I’ve served
with many board administrations and participated in many
negotiations on behalf of the RSR HOA during my time.
However, I am hereby resigning my position effective
I’ve always felt that the board administrations in the past
always had the best interests of the entire community in
their dealings and were always mindful of their fiduciary
responsibilities. Even when there wasn’t complete agreement
among members on certain topics, there was always respect
for the process and the outcome.
I can’t say that about the current Board.
I have been slandered and bullied by certain Board members since they’ve
been on the Board and have had a very difficult time performing my role as
Treasurer (and Secretary). Since the Board members came on in 2020, changes
were made in the method of votes, payments, and contract approvals that did
not conform to past procedures, good business practices, state statutes, or
open discussions among Board members at an official meeting.
There has been no fiduciary accountability among the three members and
apparently, there is a belief that all they have to do is increase dues or
call for assessments for anything they want after they’ve exhausted the
reserves that took over a decade to build up. There are many instances where
payment approvals were given to the management company to pay certain
invoices without any Board or public discussion other than an email that
said “yes” or “approved”.
For example, we originally debated and approved $30,000 for a limited scope
legal engagement with an attorney to investigate what could be done about
the defunct golf course situation. One Board member went well over the scope
and what was approved without any further Board discussion for months.
In a short period of time, they have spent nearly $200,000 and the scope
expanded without any full Board discussion or formal vote. Additionally,
they’ve spent over $58,000 in legal expenses this year to our regular HOA
attorney for services that in some cases were duplicative efforts of the
land use attorney because the Board kept asking both of them for similar
So, in total, they’ve spent over $250,000 or nearly one-half of our entire
annual budget on legal expenses in less than 11 months that have resulted in
no agreements on the former golf course property. Instead, there is suddenly
pressure to sell the property to give the Board more money to keep spending
on legal fees.
While on the Board as Treasurer, I participated with other Board members to
focus on staying within our budget and helped develop reserve funds for
landscape and irrigation improvements as well as having a “bad debt” reserve
to avoid having to come to members for assessments. I was able to do this
through all of the years of the Great Recession with no major increases to
dues or assessments and was able to build up combined reserves and equity
over that time of over $550,000 while we were also able to do major property
improvements like installing the fence and columns, lighting and landscaping
along Rock Springs Road, major improvements to the boulevard including
multiple trees (palms and magnolias), shrubs along the entranceway and along
the 2nd island bend, improvements to the roundabout, and other major
maintenance items with our drainage ponds.
Since late last year, the current Board has spent approximately $275,000 of
those reserves on legal expenses and PR firms to “inform” residents of how
great the deals are that they are working on. In fact, last month, the HOA
had to move $75,000 out of the cash reserves to the operating accounts to
cover all of the expenses.
I’ve personally witnessed other homeowners and Board members (current and
former) being belittled and bullied, both in private and in public by
certain members of the Board. I’m sure that this letter will even gain a
similar response from those Board members. I debated a long time whether to
run again for the Board this past Spring and was encouraged by a number of
homeowners and former Board members to stay involved and run again to try to
hold some level of accountability.
I am the only Board member that has a regular job and has a regular schedule
to keep. During the last year, many Board meetings were called on short
notice and during normal working hours making it very difficult for me to
attend and participate. In fact, there were meetings that I wasn’t even
informed that were going to take place. Meetings are arranged via emergency
emails and no phone calls to follow up if Board members are able to make it
I’ve instructed the management company to post our previous year’s
financials and our draft financial statements for 2020 on the website for
months, but they still haven’t. Our auditor requested me to sign a
representation letter (like every other year) that included a declaration by
me as Treasurer that we had proper internal controls and there weren’t
opportunities for fraud. I was unable to sign this year (for the first time)
since I know that expenditures were made without proper approvals by the
Board, authority given by the proper position of authority to do so by
statute, or by common HOA business practices. This led to the auditor giving
us a disclaimed opinion for 2020 (for the first time ever).
I informed the Board that I was resigning from the Treasurer position last
month due to my work limitations. Also, it was due to the danger to my CPA
license and professional reputation being at risk for continuing to be the
Treasurer by providing a level of credibility to suspect expenditures. Since
no other Board members wanted the role, they have assigned the role to a
person at the management company. Since then, there have been expenses coded
to questionable cost codes that do not properly describe the expenses. For
example, the costs of the PR firm hired to “SELL” the members on the reason
to sell the Gopher Tortoise preserve area are buried in several expense
lines making it difficult to calculate the entire amount of the expense.
Considering most of the Board members don’t understand or read the financial
statements, I would expect increases in annual dues soon due to the lack of
fiscal responsibility shown by the Board.
I have been involved with RSR since before I moved here in 2002. I worked
for one of the homebuilders that were building in RSR back in 2000 and was
watching and waiting on phase 3 to be developed in order to buy a lot on
Sand Wedge Loop (one of the 12 lots now being threatened by the sale of the
land behind it).
I DO NOT support what the current Board is pushing about selling the Gopher
Tortoise preserve (and YES it was sold to those of us on the Loop as a
preservation area in perpetuity regardless of zoning as we were told the
community design was already at its maximum and the original buyers (me
included) even paid premiums for those lots – just like those on the
original golf course lots).
My job has now taken me out of town for extended periods of time. I was told
that the management company would make accommodations for me to participate
in Board meetings; however, no accommodation was set up for me for the last
Board meeting. I do not trust this Board to do what is best in the interests
of ALL homeowners of the community.
At this time, I don’t believe that I can be effective in any role on this
Board and am hereby resigning effective immediately. Thank you to all who
supported me and ALL of our community and membership. I wish you all the