Duped! Special Assessment for Streets

Duped! Special Assessment for Streets

By Mark Beatty / Published April 2022

Photos courtesy of Holbrook Asphalt Company

One morning I received a call from a good friend who was the CFO of a local tech company. He said, “I just had one of our employees come into my office to say her HOA was assessing each resident $2,600 for a repaving project. Is that possible?” I told my friend it was certainly possible if the HOA had not properly budgeted for replacement with their reserves. But before we hung up, I asked him the name of the HOA. When he told me, I about fell off my chair. It was an HOA that someone from our office had worked with to help establish a plan to maintain their streets that they had yet to implement. Based upon the condition of the streets in the community due to neglecting maintenance, their options were quite limited, but we had a plan that could extend the life of the pavement and delay the cost of repaving their streets for several years and until they were able to get properly funded. 

     But the HOA board was enticed, as we all have been at one time or another, to go with something they were pitched that was too good to be true. They were pitched a return to like-new pavement at a fraction of the cost of replacement. 

     A contractor had proposed to them a process that can work well under the right circumstances for repairing smaller, distressed asphalt areas but only when specific conditions are met. The process is called infrared patching. It can be a great option for isolated repairs if the pavement hasn’t become oxidized beyond a certain level and if there isn’t “alligatored” cracking. This community had both problems. 

    In summary, a viable option was proposed for fixing a minor problem, which they did not have. They had a large-scale situation with streets that weren’t a fit for the process being sold to the HOA. What happened? The process led to the pavement immediately failing further, essentially crumbling, leading to the only option of removing the crumbling pavement immediately and repaving with new asphalt…and a special assessment bill for each resident of $2,600. 

     I cannot emphasize enough the need for boards and community managers to become educated. It’s not as hard as you may think to become familiar with the basic concepts of a pavement preservation strategy and the pros and cons of various maintenance treatment types. Shortly, I’ll share how to access an easily understood, state-approved training for HOA board members and community managers so those responsible for the management of pavement assets can quickly get up to speed. 

     One thing to note is that there is not a one-size-fits all pavement preservation treatment. If your neighboring community had a treatment installed, that may not be the treatment for your community. For example, one of the fastest-growing trends nationally for effectively preserving pavement is classified as a high density mineral bond, more commonly known as HA5. 

     Over the years several HOAs and city engineers have seen videos from other HOA board members or public works directors sharing the successes of high density mineral bond installations and want it for their community. They ask about a quote for having high density mineral bond installed when it is not an option based upon the poor condition of their streets. You must match the right treatment type with the specific condition and use of the pavement in your community. Before you solicit bids for a preservation project, you don’t need to be a pavement expert, but a high-level understanding of strategies and options is a must to avoid making very costly mistakes. 

     There are short orientations (usually 60–90 minutes) available from organizations with an approved curriculum from the Florida Department of Professional Regulation that provide a simple yet essential foundation of awareness. Email mark@holbrookasphalt.com with the subject “Guidance to Lower Street Ownership Costs,” and I’ll direct you to an accredited advisor with an approved curriculum who can provide you with the strategy tips you need.

Mark Beatty

Senior Vice President, Holbrook Asphalt Company

Mark Beatty is on the Advisory Board for the International Pavement Management Association and consults with public agencies and HOAs throughout the U.S. He is a sought-after presenter at public works events as well as HOA seminars. Mark serves as the Sr. Vice President at Holbrook Asphalt Company. You can contact Mark at mark@holbrookasphalt.com.