Saturday, February 5, 2011

More TR info by Don Mahan

By Don Mahan

Terlingua Ranch's Biggest Problem

by: Don Mahan

Before the last increase in Maintenance fees in 2005, the POATRI rate was a flat fee of $51.00 plus $0.48 /acre per year. After the increase, an owner paid a flat fee of $142.00 regardless of how much land he owned.

                                                                                               OLD FEE                                     % Increase

A five acre tract owner paid:                          $51.00 plus ($0.48 x 5) = $53.40                       174 %

A ten acre tract owner paid:                        $51.00 plus ($0.48 x 10) = $55.80                     154 %

A twenty acre tract owner paid:                  $51.00 plus ($0.48 x 20) = $60.60                      134%

A forty acre tract owner   paid:                   $51.00 plus ($0.48 x 40) = $70.20                       102%

A ten acre tract and 100 acres paid:          $51.00 plus ($0.48 x 110) = $103.80                    40%

A ten acre tract and 180 acres paid:         $51.00 plus ($0.48 x 190) = $142.20                       0%

A ten acre tract and 300 acres paid:         $51.00 plus ($0.48 x 310) = $199.80                   - 28%

It is very apparent that the largest burden of the maintenance fee increase fell on the very people who least could afford an increase!     At the same time the owners with the largest amount of land received a reduction in maintenance fees in the year 2005. With this high burden, many small tract owners to become delinquent. In most cases the cost to foreclose is greater than the value of the land and the directors have chosen to not forclose.

The board has also chosen to not allow delinquent property owners to participate in the amnesty program. It allows owners in good standing and real estate dealers to participate, but since these people already own tracts of land, no additional maintenance fees are collected under the present fee structure.

This unfair treatment of property owners is the root cause of so many property owners not paying maintenance fees.

Today the flat fee has increased to $158 per year. An owner with a five acre tract

pays $ 31.60 per acre for each acre of land he owns. At the same time, an owner with 100 acres pays $1.58 per acre for each acre of land he owns.

Prior to the increase in 2005, the 5 acre owner paid $10.60 per acre.  Each 110 acre owner paid $0.94 per acre.

What would be a fair maintenance fee?

·         One that does not put too large a burden on those least able to pay.

·         One that is fair to all property owners

·         One that is widely used by cities and counties.

·         One that does not allow some owners to escape paying fees. It is not fair to have exempt property owners who do not pay fees and that exempt owners expect other property owners to pay for all road maintenance, pool maintenance, and lodge maintenance. Also the board of directors allows these non paying members to vote and hold office. Forty years is enough free loading!

Also it is unfair that large land owners such as real estate dealers, speculators, oil companies, etc can own vast amounts of land and only pay the same amount as a 5 acre tract owner.

·         It is unfair that real estate dealers can hold ranch tracts for 50 years and pay no fees on the tracts. I would think they should be exempt from fees for a period one year, but after that, they should pay for each tract owned just like all the rest of the property owners.  The property owners of Terlingua ranch should not subsidize their land speculation.

General Information

·         The total ranch has 9,221 tracts (2003 data) and total acreage is 188,384 acres. Information should be good because,   only when tracts are split,  will the numbers change

·         Currently there are 1,132 exempt tracts on Terlingua ranch and the total acreage amounts to 61,417 acres or an average of 54.3 acres per owner. Total exempt acreage amounts to 32.6 % of all acreage of the ranch. This means that approximately 1/3 of total acreage is not subject to maintenance fees. That is ridiculous. Brewster County does not let anyone escape taxes.

·         If you subtract out exempt owners then there are (4925 - 1132) = 3,793 owners that can be assessed a maintenance fee.

·         Currently there are 284 exempt owners not in good standing because they did not pay one of the special assessments.

·         There are 2,333 property owners that pay maintenance fee.

·         There are a total of 607 exempt only property owners which only own exempt property.

·         There are a total of 525 exempt property owners that own exempt tracts and nonexempt tracts

·         There are a total of about 1,460 delinquent property owners. Calculated by  taking total property owners subject to maintenance fees and subtracting those actually paying. (3,793 - 2,333 = 1,460 delinquent owners.)

·         There are a total of 2,333 property owners nonexempt and exempt) who paid maintenance fees in 2010.

·         If each paid $155 per account, then total income for year would be would be $361, 615 for year 2010. The total income reported by the financial report was $357,427. Pretty close.

·         The ranch reported a surplus of  $90,000 in the year 2010

It is obvious that the ranch cannot survive financially if only 47% of the property owners pay fees. What will happen?

1.    The POATRI board of directors will recognize the problem and correct the problem. I won't hold my breath until that happens

2.    The property owners will recognize the problem and correct it via a petition.

3.    The ranch will fail financially due to fewer and fewer property owners paying maintenance fees. No one wants to be the last property owner paying fees.

What do you think the property owners should do?

Don Mahan 


  1. Don, I'd say #1 would be good, but like you I don't think that will happen.

    #2? Where's the petition

    #3? Oh well...

  2. I'm new to all this, but what all are we supposed to be "entitled to" for our fees? Use of ranch facilities and road upkeep? Other than free showers, what do we get from the ranch facilities? Laundry was $2 to wash and another $2 to dry, and you have pay for water, right? I know I didn't sign anything when I bought my land that said I'd pay a fee, or what I could expect to get for my fee. So I'm a little fuzzy on that part.

    I was in an HOA when I lived in Rockport, TX and that gave us basic cable TV, trash, water, and sewer, grounds and building maintenance, use of the club house and 2 pools. My fee was $98/mo, which I thought was quite reasonable for what I got. Most of the owners didn't even live in their condos, so the board was made up of residents who lived there and cared about what went on day to day.

    In my mind, the most fair way to assess fees is determine a budget, divide that by the number of acres of folks that should be paying fees, and charge that amount per acre. My condo fee was done on a percentage of total square feet of all the condos - seemed fair to me. Likewise if a special assessment happened, it went by your percentage of square feet. The 3 bedroom folks paid more than us 1 bedroom folks if a roof needed replaced or the parking lot needed resurfaced.

  3. I believe the ranch is SO flawed - it can't be to just let it die a financial death. DON'T PAY!

  4. Let's go Egypt on their asses!

  5. Tffnguy

    John Wells is right. It may be time to "REBOOT" the ranch.

    Frann (Lets go Egypt on their asses!) That was funny. I learned a new one.

    I was thinking about buying property out there but after reading all this I may get some land thats not part of the ranch. Its to bad to see something with potential go right down the tiolet becouse of mismanagment.

  6. Abby, John probably has the right idea. I sure don't have the answers.

    Frann, that sounds like a Plan. ;)

    cc, I think you have the right idea if you can find land that isn't on the ranch. JustMe thinks that if the TR were to go out of existence land prices around here would go up. I think that could be the case also.

    There is also another problem I see with all of this. Some of the companies selling land down here require people buying land through them to pay the TR owner's fee through them even though they are exempt and the land actually belongs to them until it is paid off. Makes you wonder where that $$$ goes. Do they pocket it, split it with the TR or give it all to the TR? Doesn't make a lot of sense to me!

  7. I disagree on land prices going up if poatri folds. (no poatri = no more road grading) One realtor out here has requested road grading several times in the past 12 months in my area so they can show a nice smooth path to property west of me. Most buyers don't realize that the nice smooth road is actually 2" deeper and will turn into a river once it rains.

  8. I just spent $400.00 on my TR road..wonder if I can deduct that from my fees.

  9. I was in the TR office years ago and was checking the maps re: a 40acre tract an old man I heard of locally that wanted to sell out (he bought it in 1970).

    One of the womenfolk in the TR office that day helped me find it on the map and looked up the tax/dues status...then as I was leaving asked if I was owner or looking to buy? I told her just kicking tires.

    The next week the (FTW) old man owner got a call from that big Ebay TR landseller (a long time and busy TR land flipper/atty based in Houston, can't recall the name), trying to talk him into selling to them cheap.
    That helpful bimbo in the TR office, obviously looked up the owners info and forwarded it to that atty- landflipper in Houston PDQ.

    This occurred about 2-3 years maybe she was part of the previous gang o'crooks?

    ON a different note....try fnding the local American Legion on this AL website..?? Can't locate the one near you, Tffnguy.

    Hope you are warm again and back to pissin on your tail lights.!!

    Bigfoot here

  10. BF, maybe it too small for them to worry with? You can do a search on American Legion 653 and find it on Google. I suspect there's a lot of sneaky crap goes on at TR!

  11. This is exxactly why I specifically searched for land not part of TR. I think John has the right idea. I doubt land prices will jump if TR folds.

  12. D Rose, I guess you knew something some of us didn't before you bought.

  13. Thanks for posting this David. I was wondering what the lawsuit was about.

    At the cook-off some of the people in my camp have land at TR and heard mention that a lot of people were not paying their HOA fees but not the reason why.

    Have always wanted to buy some land out there but this gives one food for thought...

  14. tffn, Originally I was looking for land over Marfa way but it was a lot more expensive and someone reminded me of Terlingua so I started researching there. If you google TR lots of stuff on the board issues comes up which I did while I was researching land. It didn't sound like something I wanted to deal with, plus I hate HOAs with a passion. I love the Big Bend, but almost bought in Northern New Mexico. Got more land for the money in Big Bend.

  15. Abby, what you're supposed to be able to expect in exchange for your maintenance fees is absolutely nothing. You can read the re-typed TRMA document at the website and note that it requires property owners to pay fees, but requires nothing of those who collect the fees. It places restrictions on what the money can be spent on, but nothing is required.

    If you want to see the originals of the document and each amendment that was made, those are available at one of my websites where you can also read the text of the original petition for the Braun vs POATRI lawsuit.

    The suit was based on the amendments made in 2005 which were required to be voted in by a majority of members in good standing to be valid. Only 41% of members voted, and not all of those voted in favor of the amendments. The judge ordered a directed verdict against me based on a very narrow definition of the word "claim" in the statute saying that the 2005 amendments didn't meet the definition of a "claim" against my property, but if a notice of lien had been filed he would have let it go to the jury.

    At the website, you can also find information on the 1986 fee increase and the lawsuit filed by Chuck Bradford. A jury found in Bradford's favor that the fee increase was done improperly and he was owed a refund. The decision was appealed, the judge recused herself and no other judge was ever assigned. So that lawsuit is still on the books, but collecting dust for many years.

    MsB, I wish I'd had your sense and kept looking to find property that wasn't associated with POATRI. There's plenty in the area if one only knows to look for it.

    Foot Family, yep, that's a look at one of the minor inbred things that happens at TR. The realtors and land-flippers definitely get special treatment. Like John said, road grading happens more at their request, too.

    Time for me to end this before I get started on listing the many things that are wrong with or wrong things that have been perpetrated by POATRI. I might never stop writing!

  16. Thanks for the input JustMe.

    More reason to shop for non TR property MsB.

    D Rose. Smart woman you are.

  17. Thanks Tffnguy for the comments on the ranch. It helps when someone tells whats really up down there. Still looking at which land to purchase on the ranch. Looking to move down in Oct and purchase a spread. Hard to get real info. Keep up the great posts.

  18. Bigfoot - the legion (Post 653) is listed under Alpine, TX because of its mailing address on the highway carrier route... HC 65 Box 138B

  19. Wayne, I'll post anything else Don sends me and hopefully JustMe will post anything she comes up with.

    JustMe, Alpine has its own Legion and I think 653 actually has a Terlingua address (Po Box), but still they may get mail from there to???? We really have a screwed up postal service down here. When I try to change something on my banking online it won't let me change it because it says my address doesn't exist.

  20. If you go to the website that Bigfoot posted and use the "Find a Post" function from the top of the page, you will find both post 653 and the Alpine post IF you search using Alpine as the city and TX as the state. Post 653 has an Alpine mailing address. They might also have a Terlingua P.O. Box, but it would seem silly to me to rent a box when they get mail for free without having to go in to Study Butte to pick it up at the post office.

  21. JustMe, silly or not I think that's the way it is. They do have to go south to the bank for deposits and so on so that part isn't really silly because they are right at the post office when they do that. They would also have a Terlingua address and zip.

  22. HC 65 box 138b Alpine Tx 79830 is the correct and only address for post #653.

  23. By Texas State Law every body is supposed to pay a per acre fee not a jacked up flat fee. The small landowners are paying for the large landowners. This is not legal by state law I will be filing a Class Action Lawsuit against the past and present board members and the POATRI. The large landowner want a flat fee so they don't have to pay there share and the board also posted that the large landowners don't have to pay any fee.

  24. Jessica, that is wonderful news! I'm going to post this as a new blog entry.

  25. OK this started in 2005 and now in 2013 we find that Texas State Law says pay per acre???? RIGHT!!!! Hope you have a real good lawyer Jessica, cause I find it hard to believe someone just figured this out after 8 years of bitching and moaning!


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