Curious Decisions, Curious Reports
By Buz Whelan
I write this in the first person because I want to take full ownership. I speak only for myself, and, of course, everyone who agrees with me. This is a subjective piece, my take on certain actions and decisions by the Emerald Lakes Association Board of Directors, and if that makes you angry or uncomfortable stop reading now.
The first area of concern here is communications. I write of the Emerald News and the Emerald Lakes Association official website, such as it is. We had a functioning website. It had up-to-date information on events, meetings, schedules and the like. Want to see a current Emerald Grill menu? It was there. Want to know when the Maintenance Committee is having its next meeting or when the community center is open? It was there. What happened at the last board meeting? Check that website. And so on.
Then the association got new software that included a website. So, the old website, that worked quite well, was shut down. Its capable webmaster, Bob Leon, was fired. Employees would manage the new website. That was late July 2012. How’s that working out so far? Seven months later we are still being told that the website, the official website, is a work in progress
Then there’s the Emerald News. Remember when the Emerald News was a monthly paper with up to 24 pages of news and information? Remember when you could read about the most recent board meeting? Remember when actual news of Emerald Lakes, things like shootings, house fires, power outages and home invasions were reported? Remember when there were articles like where to buy the cheapest gas for your car or LP for your home were published? Remember when there was humor along with the serious reporting, things like “Whirled Gnus” and “From the ‘Net?” Remember those things?
Check out the current version of the association paper. That’s what happens when the board fires experienced journalists, takes over the paper, appoints the GM editor-in-chief, and makes sure only good news gets printed. Now we get a 12-page Emerald News that hits the stands on Feb. 8th, but uses almost a full page to advertise the Superbowl Party on February 3rd and the Valentine’s Day Dinner, for which you must sign up and pay by Feb 7th. You could have read about the December board meeting here within 24 hours of its occurrence. But it didn’t make the Feb 8th Emerald News. No news, no fun. Good move, firing those editors and taking the paper over.
The board authorized a budget of $1,500 for the newly resurrected Events Committee. The cost of each event would be deducted from that total. I asked the board if an event made money, brought in more than its cost by, say, $1,000 would that be added back into their budget. A quick ‘No’ was followed by directors exchanging curious glances. It was apparent that this possibility had not been considered. After some discussion it was agreed, I believe, that the budget would be restored up to the original $1,500 but not beyond.
My final comment is on the monthly Treasurer’s Report, a standard agenda item at these monthly meetings. Along with the overall statistics, we are regularly informed of the cost of the Emerald Bar & Grill year-to-date. Now, up through the 2007/2008 fiscal year that unit had a hefty line item allotment of $40,000. That allowed its managers and the treasurer to brag that at an annual cost of as much as $38,000, the bar and grill were $2,000 under budget. Beginning with fiscal year 2008/2009 we began cost saving measures. We closed the amenity down on the slowest nights. From seven nights a week, we went to three. We replaced a mediocre cook with a chef. We hired new staff and a community center manager to oversee the process. We purchased a point-of-sale system that accurately tracked sales and inventory and cut shrinkage by more than 80%. Yet now we are singling this amenity out for its cost, currently $4,000 year-to-date. Why?
A Saturday night visit will reveal to the observer a full bingo room with players having soft and mixed drinks at their places. Around the room you will see plates of finger foods such as quesadillas, wings, French fries and others. You will observe couples and families dotting the main dining room. You will see an SRO crowd at the bar. And, in the pool, you will see a lonely swimmer or two doing laps under the watchful gaze of a lifeguard. We are never told how much it has cost year-to-date to maintain the water temperature, the air temperature, the board-of-health-mandated purification chemicals, or the salary of that bored lifeguard. Why is the only amenity that produces a revenue stream singled out for scrutiny? I favor, without reservation, keeping the indoor pool open. It is a valuable amenity. But if cost per member served is your criterion, the Emerald Bar and Grill is the single most cost effective amenity we have.
(Editor’s note: If you have any comments, questions, or observations about these issues, we encourage you to leave your comments here, but also, PLEASE let the board know how you feel by attending a monthly open meeting or by sending them a letter.)
Posted on February 27, 2013, in Opinion and tagged Board of directors, Emerald Lakes, Emerald Lakes Association, Emerald Lakes Association Board of Directors, HOA, Homeowner's Association, Maintenance Committee, Recreation. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.