ARDA-Resort owners coalition

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ARDA ROC is one of the American Resort Development Association's (ARDA) most successful and influential programs that brings together opposite sides of the timeshare industry, the developer and the consumer, to work together in achieving benefits for everyone. It should be understood that the ARDA is a national association in the USA that serves as the vacation ownership industry's sole lobbying, educational, and information source. The American Resort Development Association's Resort Owners Coalition (ARDA ROC) is composed of individual timeshare owners forming a united front as a legislative advocate in the 50 states and Washington, DC. Since its inception in 1989, ARDA ROC has served as an indispensable funding resource waging legislative battles across the USA. The influence of ARDA ROC's grass roots network, as well as its team of attorneys and legislative representatives who specialize in tax, banking, and consumer issues, reaches from state governments to the nation's capital.      
The coalition's growth has been nothing short of remarkable. In 1994, just 5 years after it was established, ARDA ROC membership grew to 130,000 owners. At the end of 1998, ARDA ROC members numbered more than 330,000. Still, there is much to be done to ensure that owners' interests are protected at the local, state, and federal levels. When serious issues affecting timeshare owners' economic interests arise, ARDA ROC's ability to respond promptly and sufficiently goes a long way in determining the results of these critical legislative battles.      
The ARDA Resort Owners Coalition is a nonprofit program sponsored by the American Resort Development Association, dedicated to preserving, protecting, and enhancing the owner ship of vacation resort property. The ARDA Resort Owners Coalition is composed of time share owners dedicated to protecting the economic interests that owners have committed to their vacation experience. This goal is achieved by monitoring and responding to legislative and regulatory activities in all 50 states and Washing ton, DC. that has an impact on timeshare owners.      
The Coalition is composed of hundreds of thousands of timeshare owners across the country who voluntarily contribute $3.00 a year to promote a legislative agenda at the local, state, and federal levels beneficial to timeshare owners. The organization is dedicated to preserving, protecting, and enhancing vacation ownership for timeshare owners. One state's actions can set a dangerous precedent and spread to other states if not dealt with effectively. Therefore, a win for owners in one state is a victory for all timeshare owners.      
ARDA ROC benefits the developer's owner relations, the Association's legislative efforts on the part of consumer protection, and thus, the industry itself. ARDA ROC plays a critical educational role to the industry through three distinct methods. First, ARDA ROC contributes to the industry by educating the Home Owners Association (HOA) Board of Director via promotional materials like the short video, ARDA ROC: Protecting Your Vacation for $3.00, which explains the pro gram's benefits. ARDA is happy to provide assistance in highlighting the major benefits that come from participation when educating the Board. Then secure the Board's approval to place the request for the voluntary contribution on the owner's assessment. Second, ARDA ROC includes a letter in the member's annual assessment from ARDA or a company representative explaining the purpose and benefits of ARDA ROC. The companies then simply forward the collected funds to ARDA ROC. Third, ARDA communicates industry information to resort owners to make them feel involved and more vested in their vacation ownership purchase. By engaging in this process, the members become aware of the sophistication of the industry, as they receive updates through their resort company on the Association's efforts for the industry. Other methods of communication include updates from ARDA ROC's newsletter, meetings, and press releases in owner communications. Other ancillary materials that may be provided from ARDA are the ARDA ROC audit and its funding history and there is an ARDA ROC section of the American Resort Development Association's website, www.arda.org, that can be used as a reference and has frequent updates and information for owners.      
As federal and state governments search for creative ways to raise revenue, the vacation ownership industry becomes an attractive target for ‘revenue enhancement' programs. The Coalition funds an on line computer tracking system which monitors regulatory activity in all 50 states. ARDA State Affairs provides state legislative updates regarding the Association's efforts on these issues. ARDA ROC keeps its owners aware of these events through its newspaper, The ARDA ROC Report. ARDA ROC also conducts research studies which are used to benefit timeshare owners. These studies serve to educate legislators about the economic benefits that timeshare owners provide to the community and the state and enhance the ability of our specialists in taxes, banking, and consumer affairs conveying the message of vacation ownership to legislators.       
Legal analyses are also conducted to explore new ways to combat negative legislative efforts that could adversely affect timeshare owners. In its short life, ARDA ROC has achieved many meaningful legislative victories. Still, there are many battles that lie ahead and the Coalition's legislative record will be tied closely to its ability to grow and swiftly respond to each and every challenge along the way. ARDA ROC was (a) successful in defeating the South Carolina Department of Revenue's proposal to apply a 7% sales tax on exchanges. This win represents ARDA ROC's greatest legislative victory; (b) victorious in New Hampshire against an attempt to impose an 8% room and meals tax on timeshare maintenance fees; (c) passed legislation in Florida expediting HOA's foreclosure on delinquent assessment liens. This law helps to preserve the integrity and financial soundness of timeshare homeowners' associations; and (d) successful in spearheading the enactment of the Homeowners Association Clarification Act of 1997, protecting timeshare reserves, carryover, and prepaid assessments from being unfairly taxed. This was the successful culmination of a lengthy hard fought battle with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Without the enactment of this Act, many HOAs would have been taxed on their reserves and likely forces to levy special assessments on owners. This effort clearly demonstrated that together, owners can accomplish great things which they cannot reasonably hope to achieve on their own. In recent years, ARDA ROC efforts in Washington, DC have also been successful in defeating efforts to eliminate the federal tax provision that generally permits an owner to deduct the interest on a time share loan.

Reference
<http://www.arda.org>, January 8, 2004.

CHANTAL ROTONDO
ARDA INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION, USA

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