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SHOHOLA, PA — Amelia and William Pearn received a bill that says they owe the Walker Lakeshores Landowners Association (WLLA) $325 for a “Lake Assessment” and $50 as a “Membership Fee” for 2018. But that is a direct contradiction to a decision made by Judge Joseph Kameen in the Court of Common Pleas, saying that the Pearn’s home is not located in the Walker Lake community and is not part of the WLLA, and therefore is not subject to any assessment or fee except a $10-a-year maintenance fee.
The ruling, which came last year, was part of a seven-year legal battle the Pearns waged against WLLA, which cost the couple thousands of dollars. In the fall of 2017, a lawyer for WLLA moved to withdraw the association’s appeal of the decision, and the judge accepted the withdrawal. That meant that his previous ruling stands—and that should have been the end of the matter. Amelia, who keeps a detailed website about the issue at www.shoholapa.com, declared victory. Then the bill came.
Amelia lives in a neighborhood called Maple Park, and is not the only homeowner there who has been wrongly billed for assessments and fees as being part of the neighborhood next door. But it appears there are bigger problems facing the WLLA and its board.
A treasurer’s report dated November 18, 2017, after an audit of WLLA’s books by the accounting firm Zavada and Associates, which is posted in Amelia’s website, says, “…it appears that there has [sic] been numerous unauthorized cash withdrawals from the WLLA checking account totaling at least $22,000 in 2016, over $21,000 in 2015 and over $44,000 in 2014 for total of at least $87,000 for the years 2014 through 2016.
“In addition, it appears that Zavada’s review of the bank statements indicates that WLLA has also been paying for charges of a personal nature that is [sic] not related to Association business, such as cable and electric expenses for a personal residence, dental and medical expenses, and others—the amounts have yet to be quantified but are expected to be in the thousands of dollars.”
Residents of Maple Park and Walker Lake turned out to a meeting of WLLA board on December 28, and the revelations continued. An updated Zavada report indicated that board members had not been paying their dues. The president of the board, Fran Orth, said she never got the bill for her dues, and thus she didn’t pay them; she then resigned.
The updated Zevada report also showed that some $123,492.50 of association funds were withdrawn from 2012 to 2016, and no one knows who withdrew it or where it was spent. The report also detailed a number of irregularities, and the entire matter is now being investigated by Pike County District Attorney Raymond Tonkin and the Pennsylvania State Police. Representatives from WLLA have agreed to meet with these officials.
The issue regarding fees for Maple Park residents seems to still be up in the air for the time being. According to Maple Park resident Allen Sherer, in 2013 the WLLA took ownership of the beach that Maple Park residents have a deeded right to use. The court ruled that WLLA can only charge Maple Park residents $10 per year, yet residents are getting bills for $375. WLLA would like to charge Maple Park residents a fee based on the actual costs of maintaining the beach, but they don’t currently have any idea what the actual costs are.
Board members from WLLA did not respond to a request for comment.