Monday, March 28, 2011

Division Trust Fund may be raided even after Division escapes elimination

While everyone at the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes is likely to be breathing a sigh of relief after last week’s action removing them from the grasp of HB 5005 deregulation, the latest challenge to association owners was reflected in the Florida House’s first draft of its budget.

The Florida House released its draft budget late last week and on page 360, it reflects that $6.2 million from the Division’s Trust Fund will be swept into the State School Trust Fund. This certainly isn’t a new story since the Condominium Trust Fund has been routinely raided over the years to make up for budget shortfalls elsewhere. The Senate has not yet released the first draft of its budget but if it matches the House version in this regard, it is very likely that the funds which condominium and cooperative owners paid into the Fund will not be used for the purposes they expected.

This begs the question: how will the Division fund its arbitration and educational programs as well as the Ombudsman’s Tallahassee and Broward County Offices? How worried do the 118 full-time Division employees need to feel about seeing their paychecks each week?

Why does the Florida Legislature insist that association owners’ approval be sought and obtained prior to a board using reserve funds collected from those owners for purposes other than that for which they were collected? Because that is seen as the “fair” thing to do as it is the owners money and having reserves on hand to fund needed maintenanced and repairs is the prudent course of action.

How then can those same legislators justify raiding the Division Trust Fund?

When was the last time you wrote your legislators or Governor and asked them not to use the funds you paid in to the Division Trust Fund for other, much different purposes?

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This work by Donna DiMaggio Berger, Esq. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Generic License.

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