By Jana Bounds EBS Contributor

BIG SKY – The Hill Condominiums Home Owners Association is facing a controversial 84 percent association dues increase when the association meets for a Sept. 2 vote.

According to a notice printed by owner Mikala Kearney, the proposed increase was not included on the mail-in ballot.

“By holding the vote for this increase at the annual meeting, those who have proposed the increase are given the ability to push it through because they hold most of the proxies (voting rights) for the owners that are not present,” Kearney wrote on the bright signs placed on the exterior of the Hill Condos, atop paint peeling off wooden siding.

The signs were placed to notify renters of the proposed increase and likelihood of incurred costs being passed to renters. The notice was also transcribed, posted and shared on Facebook by owners and renters.

Board member and attorney Peter Fisher declined to comment on the dues proposal, saying he would need board approval to speak. Condominium owners Heather Mote and Craig Smit also refused comment, explaining that they did not want to be caught in the crosshairs of what could become a contentious vote.

June 20 board meeting minutes paint a grim picture of association finances. Board Treasurer Bill Janecke expressed concern that owners are unclear about the financial condition of the association and that it has lived on borrowed time in underfunding the reserve accounts for many years. He requested board approval for sending out short, easily understood statements to owners outlining the condition of the property, “that will shed light on necessary costs and point to a way forward going out of pocket instead of going into debt.”

He specifically cited windows, damage and siding as “interrelated issues that could turn out to be quite costly before resolved.”

According to meeting minutes, board member Virginia Braun said the board needs to clearly define where the money is going, “because another increase could [push] some of the membership over the edge.” Board member Gloria Lambertz agreed that the membership needs to be shown an end game for fixing issues. Janecke, Fischer and Lambertz all expressed interest in including issues that could be voted on by membership in the annual meeting packets rather than by the usual use of proxy or unallocated votes from absent owners.

At the June 20 meeting, association accountant Doug Shanley said the association is $32,270 under budget on total operating expenses through May 31.

Alpine Property Management, which manages the property, did not provide comment before EBS’s Aug. 30 press deadline.

The annual meeting takes place at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 2, in the Talus Conference Room of Big Sky Resort’s Summit Hotel.