Residents say HOA didn't pay street light bill

January 15, 2010 5:56:21 PM PST
Some folks in northwest Harris County say their hard-earned money isn't going where it's supposed to. Residents in the Camden Park subdivision say their homeowners association isn't keeping up its end of the bargain. However, its president says that's only half of the story.

When we pay our homeowners association fees, we trust the money is going to pay bills and beautify our neighborhoods. But that's not the case for people living in Camden Park, who claim their homeowners association president has avoided payments that will ultimately put their safety at risk.

"If the street lights go off tonight, it is gonna be pitch black dark," resident Carrie Shepherd said.

Shepherd and her neighbors feared they will be left in the dark.

"When the hurricane happened, when everything was dark, that's how it's gonna be in the street," said resident Victoria Sotelo.

All because they say their homeowners association president didn't pay the bills.

Camden Park residents received a notice from Reliant Energy ten days ago saying street lights would be shut off in the neighborhood starting Friday night because of a delinquent payment. When Shepherd called the energy company, the response was shocking.

"The lady did say it's $8,000. The bill is $8,000," said Shepherd.

Stunned, these neighbors wonder how the bill could go unpaid for so long given they paid their $283, an annual cost that just keeps rising.

"What are you doing with the money?" asked Shepherd.

Resident Otis Green said, "I wrote a check on the 26th. It cleared the bank on the 28th."

Green bought and installed his own spotlights after he got the letter.

"I've got a mother-in-law and a wife. So I want to protect them," said Green.

Protection is something they all worry about, especially Sotelo, who cares for her four-year-old cousin.

"There's been a lot of breaking in. So that was our first concern," said Sotelo.

In a neighborhood where a rundown community center, filthy swimming pool and graffiti are taking over, neighbors say the last thing they need is to fall into a black hole.

"If there's no lights, it's like an invitation right here. And I just don't want anyone to get hurt," said Shepherd.

We spoke with Homeowners Association President Jeffrey Jackson on the phone. He refused an on-camera interview, but insists he did pay the outstanding bill on Thursday. He claims he simply didn't have the funds to pay it before then.

We did some checking with Reliant Energy to confirm the lights would stay on in Camden Park and a spokesperson told us there is no danger of lights being disconnected Friday night. However, this is an ongoing battle residents say will likely require change in leadership.