FAIRFIELD — The court-appointed manager for Parkway Gardens has billed $25,550 for trips to the condominium development over the past 17 months – an expense Fairfield City Councilwoman Pam Bertani says should be controlled.
“We can do better than that,” Bertani said.
Her comments came after a discussion Tuesday by the City Council about the $102,000 – including travel costs – that the Parkway Gardens Homeowners Association will pay Sacramento-based Ben McGrew.
Bertani said during the meeting that Parkway Gardens is struggling to pay for the receiver.
McGrew said Wednesday that most people appointed by the court to manage properties charge their full hourly rate for travel, but he billed half the $275-an-hour he’s paid. He said delegating authority to staff members has been part of his effort to reduce travel expenses.
“It is a fair amount of money,” McGrew said. “It’s a very expensive case.”
He noted improvements at Parkway Gardens and that Mayor Harry Price has spoken about a renaissance at the development.
Fairfield joined a legal action last year – one that led to McGrew’s court appointment. The legal filing challenged the 240-unit Parkway Gardens Homeowners Association for failing to maintain a required five-member board. The lack of a board affected the ability to police crime and enforce city codes at the condominiums, Fairfield said in a 2013 court fling.
Parkway Gardens resident Minnie Noble told the council Tuesday during public comment that homeowners at the condominium pay $306 a month in dues – more than any other such site in Fairfield. She said it’s time for McGrew to end his work as manager.
City Manager David White said McGrew is paid about $8,000 a month, less than an ineffective property manager who preceded him and received $10,000 a month.
City Council members will receive a report at their next meeting about Parkway Gardens, White said. He noted improvements included upgraded lighting, increased cameras and license plate readers at the complex.
“It’s going to take time to build the community back,” the city manager said. “We’re very committed to Parkway.”
McGrew, in a July 30 report to the homeowners association, listed his costs, including travel expenses that cover his time and mileage costs.
He said the average value of Parkway Gardens units has increased up to 100 percent and some have gone up in value by $50,000 to $80,000. Total cost for the receivership has been just more than $400 a unit, he said.
Crime has been substantially reduced at the development, McGrew said.
An election for a homeowners association board of directors is a crucial step to ending the receivership and related expenses, he said.
“I will stay as long as the community and the courts need me,” McGrew continued in the report, but said he would like to be out of this case and the association returned to the board in the next 90 to 120 days.
City Attorney Greg Stepanicich said McGrew is accountable to Solano Superior Court.
Walt Tibbet, police chief for Fairfield, told the council that the city’s goal is to develop property management at the site and conclude the receivership. He recounted the start of the city’s assistance at Parkway Gardens.
“After years of difficulty,” Tibbet said, “we knew this was not a six-month project.”
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or [email protected]