Some HOA fees go up temporarily to pay for special assessments such as new roofs on the town homes, repairing a pool, etc. In a community of single family homes, the fees could go up to pay for extra police patrols or redoing an entrance sign. These fees also pay for common areas and street lights. The sad truth is expenses, fuel, insurance fees are going up and it is simply passed on to the owners.
The best thing to do is get involved with your home owners association (HOA) so you know where your dollars are being spent. You do have a voice and can vote on anything they pay money towards. If you think it is too high, get involved and figure out how to bring those fees down!
If you have a pool, gym or other amenities you'll likely pay higher dues.
If you have deferred maintenance you may pay higher dues.
You want reserves for replacement to avoid special collections.
I've typically found that overall expenses with HOA are no more than single family homes, and if you have a really proactive board they might even be less....for example if you could negotiate replacing 200 roofs with a contracter vs negotiating for one as in a single family home. Same with insurance, pools, lawn care, painting and all the other items that come up.
The one exception I don't like is if they pay for heating and cooling, then I think people tend to be wasteful or extreme. Even if there is only a handful of people that are extreme, you're paying for it. That's not all that common though that HOA pays for electricity or heat and air around this area.
You would be surprised how much the common area maintenance and pool maintenance can cost, not to mention insurance and building maintenance if it is included.
After you review the budget and you feel there are still problems express your concerns at an HOA meeting, or better yet run to be elected to the boards of directors. Being involved in your neighborhood can be very rewarding.