Monthly Archives: January 2014
By George Haab
There were two lovely homes in a mountain community called Emerald Lakes. Each was owned by families who used them as vacation homes and visited them at irregular intervals. Both homes had alarm systems. One kept his vital information, such as his up-to-date telephone and cell phone information up to date. The other moved several times, changing his numbers and failing to notify his alarm company. The homeowner who kept his information current also gave a trusted full time neighbor a duplicate house key.
One day during a time of extremely low temperatures several transformers blew. Each homeowner lost all power to his vacation home. The power company tried to call each homeowner. They reached the first homeowner and told him he would have to turn off his main breaker before it would be safe to restore power. The homeowner quickly called the trusted neighbor who went to the home and turned the breaker off. He then notified the power company and the power was restored. His furnace, powered by LP by controlled by an electric thermostat immediately went back on – before the house temperature dipped below freezing. But the second homeowner, the one who did not keep his contact information up to date, did not know his heat was off. Soon the temperature dipped very low and all the water in the house froze. The sink traps were split open, toilet tanks cracked, water pipes burst and the water heater was ruptured. Thousands of dollars worth of damage resulted.
The take away from these stories is obvious. Each of these scenarios has occurred many times throughout the Pocono region. Don’t be like the second homeowner. Keep your contact information current with your alarm company and all your suppliers. And think about giving a trusted neighbor a key. That neighbor can look in your home if the alarm goes off or if you’re notified of a power interruption. As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
by Buz Whelan
Shortly after 9:30am on this cold, snowy January Saturday morning President Alex Leslie called the meeting to order. He began by introducing interim general manager Judy Kennedy and two other representatives of Preferred Management who will fill in until a new general manager is selected to replace departing GM Allen Roth. Explaining that he would keep his remarks brief because a reception for the new arrivals would immediately follow, Leslie turned the meeting over to Treasurer Earl Frank.
Treasurer’s Report: Frank gave his usual detailed report. He said that year-to-date revenue of $1,284M (M=1,000) exceeded the budget by $33M. He attributed this to increased fees/resale certificates, permits and code and public safety citations of $39,000. Dues collected so far this year of $1,153M are over last year’s same period by $5,000. He further reported that our attorney has collected $125,000 on delinquent dues as compared to $68,000 last year, almost double.
Total operating expenses of $1,131M, excluding depreciation, are under budget by $96,000, or 8%. He gave a breakdown as follows:
1. Admin costs are under budget by $32,000, with salaries and related benefits under by $24M.
2. Public Safety is under budget by $3,000 with all line items close to budgeted amounts.
3. Maintenance is under budget by $35M due mainly to favorable variances in salaries and related benefits by $22M, lake weed control costs of only $6,000 ($10,000 budgeted) and vehicle expenses of $14,000. Some of this is offset by an unfavorable variance of $6,000 in trash removal.
4. Overall, the Community Center is under budget by $39,000, again due to favorable variances in salaries and related benefits of $23M. Items related to pool maintenance are under by $11,000 and heating and supplies costing $6,000.
5. Revenue for the Emerald Bar & Grill is $49,000 while costs are $62,000 for a net cost of $13,000.
Our reserves fund balance is currently $255,000 after paying off road paving done this past year. As a footnote, Frank pointed out that the New Year’s Eve party put on by the Events Committee made a profit of $407.
The treasurer closed his remarks by stating that he was working on the first draft of fiscal year 2014/2015’s budget and would have a product ready within a week. This will then be considered by the Finance and Planning Committee and finally presented to the full Emerald Lakes Board of Directors. The budget must – and will – be in place for the start of the fiscal year on May 1, 2014.
General Manager’s Report: In his final report, GM Allen Roth said that ads have been placed in newspapers and on the Community Association Institute’s website for his replacement. He also referred to the PP&L request to expand the right of way along Long Pond Road to accommodate the backup power cabling that is being installed to reduce the number of power outages and shorten their duration. This is the subject of a resolution, passed unanimously a few minutes later in the agenda, to expand the right of way from 10 to 25 feet. This effects three properties near Bus Road commonly referred to as the sales deck. The GM also used this time to thank the community and the board for their support during his time here. He said he felt his time was well spent, that he learned much here but that a new opportunity had made it necessary to move on.
Committee Chair Reports: Bob Leon, reporting for the Property Management Committee drew sharp rebukes from several board members on the use of that name. Apparently it is of great importance to them that the committee be named the Maintenance Committee, regardless of the fact that the committee’s responsibilities have expanded to include those of the defunct Architectural Review Committee and the ad hoc Committee for Energy Conservation. Mr. Leon went on to make several recommendations on signage (additional one way signs on Emerald Blvd., removal of stop signs on Clearview at Glade due to sharp incline), on the temperature control in the Community Center (it is not being lowered during periods of disuse as previously agreed), and a strong repeat recommendation that the dangerous and illegal concrete structure on Strawberry Landing be removed.
Events Committee Chairperson Stefania Johnson reported on the many events her committee has scheduled which can be viewed on the official website. She underscored the St. Valentine’s Day event which will be held on Saturday, Feb. 15th in the Community Center.
CrimeWatch Chairperson Connie Simpson, supported by former chair Paul Capozolli, requested that her organization not be designated by the appellation ‘committee’ since she did not think it appropriate to hold it to committee membership restrictions (typically 10 members). She and Paul pointed out that the more members we have watching for crime, the better.
Speaking for the Appeals Committee, Paul Capozolli asked for approval on a rule that if an appellant misses three consecutive scheduled appeals meetings, the appeal is de facto denied. He stated that some members are suspected of using constant missed and rescheduled meetings as a method of delaying justice.
Reporting for the Emerald Lakes Directors Alumni Society (ELDAS)in place of the ill Pat Galderisi, Buz Whelan suggested that planning begin for a 40th anniversary celebration, since we are now in that year of the association’s establishment. Whelan suggested that we might have a gala celebration on Pine Tree Beach Island and that it might be a good idea to ask the membership for their thoughts via the Emerald News and website. He also mentioned that alternatively, we might consider celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Emerald Lakes development which occurs three years hence. Whelan also volunteered that ELDAS members would be willing to serve on the search committee to find a replacement for the GM.
Reporting as chair of the ad hoc Committee to Revise the Bylaws, Whelan handed out a preliminary protocol for absentee voting. He asked the directors to look it over and let the committee know if they had any problems with the procedure as described. He further asked the board to consider how they would like the proposal presented to the membership. One suggestion, by committee member Bill Henry, was to present the change as an amendment with the procedure established under the boards Policies and Procedures Manual. This would allow adjustments to be made to the process after implementation. If improvements could be made after a year or two of experience with absentee voting, it could be made without having to go back to the membership for minor changes in methodology.
Old Business: Clause 15. Secretary Carmen Broadnax stated that due to the holidays and other priorities she had been unable to make any progress on the Clause 15 properties, discussed in previous reports here. Watch this space for further developments.
New Business: The aforementioned resolution on the PP&L Tree Cutting and line installation need for more right-of-way was passed. Next came Resolution #29 which is to contract an engineering study of the Community Center by Falcon Engineering. The study would determine what needs to be repaired and when, prioritizing such elements as boiler replacement, HVAC system replacement, roof repair and any structural deficiencies. The cost would be $4,750. The resolution passed with Directors Glasgow, Frank and Bishop voting yes. Directors Solla and Fitzgerald voted nay with Director Broadnax abstaining.
Resolution #30 appropriated a maximum of $14,130 for lake maintenance to be performed by Ecological Solutions on a monthly basis from May to October. The figure actually spent could be less depending on the severity of the weed infestation and the amount of herbicide needed. This year’s total was just over $6,000. The resolution passed unanimously.
Resolution #31 was to appropriate a fee of $372/hr for a diver and support team to perform and inspection on the Pine Tree Lake dam valve, evacuation pipe and dam. Approximately two hours work is anticipated.
Resolution #32 was originally written to hire Preferred Management for the interim period between the present and the hiring of a new GM. A second part was the appointment of a search committee. A motion to amend the resolution to include a statement limiting committee participation to one member per property made by Director June Solla resulting in an agreement among the directors to sever the two elements. The hiring of Preferred Management was passed unanimously. A somewhat heated discussion ensued on the Solla amendment/restriction. Since it was commonly known that Pat Galderisi and Flo Mauri, former directors, had been nominated to the committee, it seemed obvious to all present that this amendment was directed specifically at them, and was so stated by several directors and members present. An additional part of this was to appoint Secretary Carmen Broadnax as primary liaison to the management team, with President Alex Leslie as an alternate. Considering this appointment separately, Treasurer Earl Frank questioned the reasoning behind not having the board president be the primary liaison. After some discussion a vote reversed the positions, with President Leslie appointed primary and Secretary Broadnax the alternate. The vote was Directors Frank, Bishop and Glasgow voting for the reversal, Broadnax abstaining, and Fitzgerald and Solla voting against. Returning to the discussion on the limitation of one member to the property, the group decided to put off a decision until more research could be done on the rules regarding this. Skipping ahead, during public comments, this author read from the committee regulation manual put out by the board which clearly states that ad hoc committees may be composed any way that best serves their purpose including the membership of employees, directors and others. President Leslie expressed that this settled the question and there was no rule/regulation against the participation of more than one member per property on an ad hoc committee. (A careful reading of the Committee Rules and Regulations will find no stricture against multiple participants from a single property on any committee.)
Public Comments: John Palmisano asked for clarification on why the bar and grill were losing so much money. Several members thanked departing GM Allen Roth for his service, citing his diligence and openness is dealing with members. Buz Whelan raised a concern about the Emerald News policy of deciding what contributions would be published. He averred that George Haab had approached him with a request to publish an article on the http://www.emeraldlakesfreepress.com because he had been told by a staffer that only one article per person per issue would be accepted. This was adamantly denied by Communications Chairperson Joe Olall and other liaisons and members including Margaret Fitzgerald, June Solla and Carmen Broadnax. All these expressed surprise saying his second article was to be published. Questioned later on who told him he could only have one article per issue Mr. Haab said it was June Solla. Ms. Solla has denied this.
Mr. Whelan then brought up the issue of the relationship between directors and employees. He stated that he had been told by multiple sources that a director was using a video recorder to surreptitiously record employee behavior. He cited an instance where the director in question was recording in the Community Center and was confronted by a member. When the member was told, according to the report, that the director was only recording employees he became angry and said that his children were being recorded and it should cease immediately. Mr. Whelan pointed out that such recording may be illegal and that further it accomplishes nothing good. Few things could destroy employee morale and loyalty to the association than the realization that they are being spied upon. When Director Solla said this was an accusation against the board that must be supported, Mr. Whelan responded that it was not the board, but Director Solla that he was citing. When President Leslie was asked if he had heard such information he responded that he had. Ms. Solla denies that she ever engaged in such behavior.
Author’s note: I have multiple sources for my reporting on the video recording of employees by Director Solla, as well as photographing at the trash compactor and in the trash compactor. I fully intend to protect those sources, including from the possibility of retaliation.