Granby dissolves ROSH after foundation discloses financial, legal worries
After months of discussion, calls from homeowners to dissolve the Recreation, Open Space and Housing Foundation and a newly restructured board, the Granby Board of Trustees have approved the foundation’s request to fold.
In a 3-1 vote, with one trustee and the mayor abstaining, the town board approved ROSH’s second request to dissolve the foundation.
ROSH’s covenants require the Granby board’s approval to appoint new members and dissolve the foundation. Questions related to the foundation began late last year after ROSH asked the town to appoint a new board member.
Granby Ranch and Edgewater residents paid a 1% transfer fee to ROSH on the second sales and beyond of their properties. These funds were to be used to improve recreation, open space and housing, but there was a debate on whether the funds could be used only in the contributing neighborhoods or anywhere in Granby.
The town repeatedly denied potential appointments and eventually reconstituted the ROSH board as homeowner interest grew. The new board was made up of three previous ROSH members and four new members, all Granby Ranch homeowners.
The town previously denied ROSH’s request to dissolve in a 4-2 vote. At the time, trustees expressed their surprise the ROSH board moved so quickly to dissolve after being reconstituted.
ROSH members again approached the board this week with additional details on the decision. After three ROSH meetings examining the records available, all members of ROSH determined the foundation’s issues were too convoluted to resolve.
In a memo to the town board, ROSH President David Sardinta outlined the following financial and legal discrepancies:
- The required “notice of transfer fee” was never recorded and the collection of fees may have been without legal standing.
- Some transfer fee funds are missing.
- Financial records were not in good order and several questions regarding past IRS filings arose.
- The grant application process was found insufficient to determine the qualification of applicants.
- Some awards appear to be inconsistent with the foundation’s covenant and at times outside IRS regulations.
- Concerns grew over potential conflicts of interest in grant awards.
- There has been no monthly reconciliations between fees received, sales and public records.
“The ROSH Board of Directors unanimously agreed that rather than launching a lengthy and costly investigation it would be in the best interest … to dissolve the ROSH Foundation,” Sardinta concluded.
Sardinta said that while there had not yet been a determination whether the actions of the foundation were illegal, it would have to be ascertained if the foundation were to remain in existence.
“I don’t think there’s any wrongdoing,” Sardinta said at the meeting. “I just think there was a lack of guidance and a lack of understanding in some of the prior years. It’s a bit of a quagmire quite honestly.”
While ROSH’s previous legal counsel had asserted that the actions of the foundation were legal, the current ROSH board said the foundation was no longer using his services.
“He’s also the person who wrote the original covenant,” Sardinta said. “It’s not a document that we have faith in.”
Some residents raised an issue with dissolving the foundation when ROSH was used as part of the negotiations to annex Granby Ranch into the town. They objected to losing funding that they said was supposed to support Granby and counteract the costs associated with annexing the development.
Others argued the transfer fee was an unfair tax on Granby Ranch residents and that these types of fees were made illegal in 2011.
Some town board members seemed satisfied that ROSH had examined the history of the foundation and then voted unanimously to dissolve, something that held the trustees back from allowing it previously.
“The due diligence has been done,” Trustee Josh Hardy said. “That’s all I really wanted was to make sure that those steps were taken to make sure that this was something that everybody on that board wanted.”
With the foundation dissolved, the board will meet again to determine where the leftover funds will go. According to its covenants, remaining money will go to an educational, recreational or scientific charity at the discretion of ROSH’s board.
In other business:
• The town board held an executive session on the bonds the town is attempting to collect for repairs on Granby Ranch roads. The trustees rejected any settlements from the bond companies and directed legal counsel to continue their work.
• The town manager updated the board on Granby’s financial situation. While a lot remains unknown related to the COVID-19 crisis, the town manager was cautiously optimistic that increased spending in groceries and online sales might make up some of the losses in other sales tax areas for March. He also pointed out that the crisis correlates with mud season, which may also help minimize losses.
• The town board approved a contract to build two pickleball courts in Polhamus Park.
• The trustees amended the town electronic participation policy to allow quasi-judicial hearings as long as the party requesting a hearing consents to the meeting occurring virtually.
• The board amended the town code on short-term rentals to allow Granby officers to enforce the county’s public health order, allowing a maximum fine of $2,650 per day if found in violation.
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