Jerry Miel, a Green Valley resident and landlord with two rental properties, has initiated legal action against Green Valley Recreation (GVR), contesting what he perceives as an excessive and unaligned tenant ID card fee. The crux of the matter revolves around whether GVR’s governing documents, specifically the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, authorize the imposition of such fees.
Background and Legal Proceedings
Miel, dissatisfied with the tenant ID card fee totaling $465 for three cards, filed a small-claims complaint on August 1 in Green Valley Justice Court. This fee enables tenants to access GVR facilities. However, GVR’s attorneys swiftly motioned to transfer the case to the Civil Division of the Justice Court, a move that was granted.
A subsequent mediation session on November 20 involving Miel, a GVR attorney, and CEO Scott Somers proved unproductive, with Miel describing it as “absolutely worthless.”
Disputed Authority and Justification for Fees
At the heart of the dispute lies the question of whether the GVR board possesses the requisite authority to levy tenant fees. These fees vary between $25 and $155 annually based on the duration of use.
Miel argues that both the Articles of Incorporation and the Bylaws, which dictate GVR’s operations and membership guidelines, do not explicitly sanction or validate the imposition of tenant ID card fees. He emphasizes that while he dutifully pays annual GVR dues for his rental properties as stipulated, there’s no indication in the Bylaws necessitating additional charges, such as tenant fees.
Conflicting Documents and Arguments
Miel contends that the Corporate Policy Manual (CPM) conflicts with the Bylaws regarding tenant fees. While the CPM specifies fees for tenant cards, Miel argues that the listed reasons for fees—such as cost recovery of direct expenses, facility space usage, miscellaneous services, and processing fees—do not encompass the tenant fee.
In contrast, GVR, represented by legal counsel, refutes Miel’s assertions. They argue that GVR has legal standing, as outlined in its governing documents and the Arizona Nonprofit Act, to impose fees for tenant cards.
Financial Impact and Historical Context
A GVR spokeswoman revealed that the organization generates approximately $129,000 annually from tenant fees. However, due to ongoing litigation, they declined to comment on which document—CPM or Bylaws—takes precedence in case of inconsistencies.
Notably, the tenant fee has a history dating back to at least 1997, when it was $10 per year. Over time, it increased to $155 annually, set to rise further in 2024, based on a tiered structure approved by the board in 2001.
The dispute between Jerry Miel and GVR encapsulates a fundamental disagreement over the interpretation of GVR’s governing documents regarding tenant fees. While Miel contends that these fees lack proper authorization and justification within the Bylaws, GVR maintains its legal right to impose them. The ongoing legal battle underscores the complexity and nuances within organizational governance and raises questions about the interpretation and application of governing documents in such disputes.