Monthly Archives: February 2014
by Buz Whelan
The February Board of Directors meeting was called to order at 9:31am and began with traditional Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
President Alex Leslie began his President’s Report by citing two sections in the bylaws regarding voting. There had been some dispute over whether two members of a single property could serve on the same committee, in this case the ad hoc Committee to Seek a Replacement General Manager or Search Committee for short. The two members in question were and are Flo Mauri and Pat Galderisi. Although sharing a single property, these two women served together on the board in the 90s, and more recently on the Search Committee from November 2011 through January 2012, the committee that recommended the previous GM, Allen Roth, along with 3 others. The only reference to voting in either the bylaws or committee rules addresses voting at the Annual Meeting. Both documents are silent on this aspect of committee membership (see bylaws Article IV, Section 6 and Article III, item 16). Leslie said that he felt this puts the matter to rest. Meanwhile, Flo Mauri passed out a prepared paper than cited no fewer than 27 instances where 2 members from the same property, in most cases husbands and wives, served on the same committee at the same time. She made no claim that these were the only instances where this occurred.
Leslie also said the Communications Committee is seeking members and that anyone with related skills would be welcome to join the committee.
Treasurer’s Report Treasurer Earl Frank gave his usual comprehensive report. Significant items are cited as follows:
· Dues collected $1,276K which exceeds the same period last year by $16K. Over the last 4 months dues collected exceed the same period last year by $50K. The current trend would have us matching the 2011/12 year collections ($1,440K), a record high.
· Our attorney has collected $141K on past dues as compared to $78K last year. Last year he collected $131K for the entire 12 months. We are tracking this year to collect $155K, a 20% increase.
· Operations: total expense of $1,249K is under budget by $121K, or 9%. This is pre-snow.
· Admin costs are under budget by $23K, primarily due to favorable variances in salaries and related benefits.
· Public Safety is under budget by $3K with all line items close to budgeted amounts.
· Maintenance is $36K under budget, with favorable variances of $23K in salaries and related benefits, $6K in lake weed control and $4K in vehicle operation supplies. Some of this is offset by an unfavorable variance of $6K in trash removal.
· Community Center is under budget by $45K, due to favorable variances of $24K in salaries and related benefits, $12K in items related to all pool maintenance, $7K in heating supply costs.
· The Emerald Bar & Grill have combined revenues of $52K and expenses of $68K, a $16Kshortfall. On a positive note, the B&G only lost $686 this past month, the best of the year.
Manager’s Report Brad Jones gave the report. He started by pointing out that we had 16 days of successive snow events. On the worst days he brought in outside help at a cost of $1,500 per day. The heavy snow pack caused the collapse of the maintenance barn, damaging the vehicle inside. He does not believe the vehicle is totaled, but there is damage to the hood, roof and windshield. An insurance adjuster will be in this week to appraise the damage and repair will then be scheduled.
Brad also announced that a period from 1 to 3pm Wednesdays will be set aside for homeowners to speak to management on a walk-in basis. Alternatively, homeowners may schedule an appointment on Saturdays between 9am and 2pm.
· Ad hoc Committee to Revise the Bylaws – Chairman Buz Whelan presented an amendment to allow absentee voting complete with a protocol of procedure to be placed in the Board of Directors Resolution Book, should the board agree to present this to the membership for approval and should the membership then so approve. Whelan also verbally suggested removal of the unsightly property amendment presently in the bylaws, stating that this is covered in greater detail in the association’s rules and regulations. He pointed out that is the Rules and Regulations manual that Code Enforcement Officer Ralph Musto cites when issuing violations. Whelan promised to follow this with a written suggestion in the coming few days.
· Election Committee- Last year’s chairperson, Carol ‘Cookie’ Lietwinski, asked if she were still heading the committee. She said she is currently assembling a membership for the committee. President Leslie explained that when the committee was assembled they would then select their chair and she would be eligible for that position.
· Maintenance Committee- Speaking as a member of the committee, George Haab pointed out that the dry hydrants around the community have not been cleared of snow. This presents a substantial risk should a fire occur.
· Finance and Planning Committee – Treasurer Earl Frank reported that a preliminary budget had been discussed at the February 15th meeting and some changes had been suggested. These were made by Brad Jones and Judy Kennedy, the current management team, and a revised budget had been emailed to all committee members. The committee intends to meet on March 1st to consider the amended document, which will then be forwarded to the board for approval. If approved at the March open meeting, it will be made available to the membership for comment before final approval at the April open meeting. An approved budget must be in place at the beginning of the fiscal year, May 1st. Frank also revealed that the F&P Committee recommended a Special Assessment be requested from the membership. It would be in the amount of $16.67 per month or $50/quarter. If approved this would raise $550,000 at our present rate of collection and would be sufficient to repair the dam valve and evacuation pipe at Pine Tree Lake Dam and replace the HVAC system in the Community Center, two of the most urgent projects facing the association.
· Events Committee – Chairwoman Stefania Johnson reported that the Murder Mystery Theatre event originally scheduled as a Valentine’s Day program and postponed due to the heavy snowfall on the 15th would be held on March 1st. Those with tickets for the 15th who cannot make the new date may redeem their tickets for an equal value dining certificate that will be good anytime. Those who did not get tickets but now wish to attend the new date may obtain them at the Community Center. Stefania also reported that a St. Patrick’s Day party would be held on March 22 with the Gallagher Dancers, and Irish dance troop, performing. Buz Whelan amended Stefania’s report by stating that Comedy Night V would be held in the Community Center on Saturday, May 3rd. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Doors open at 7pm with the performances scheduled to begin at 8. A special snack and finger food menu will be available.
· Communications Committee – Chairperson Joe Olall reported that submission deadlines and publication dates for the rest of the year’s issues are in the paper (on page 11). This should make planning for those needing to advertise and event or program much easier.
Old Business: A report on Clause 15 properties is not yet ready.
New Business: The board approved a donation of $100 to the Gallagher School of Dance in appreciation for their forthcoming performance at the St. Patrick’s Day party.
Public Comments: Eric Bergstrom presented a plan for controlling Ice fishing. Signage warning that fishing is only available for residents with permits will be posted. Permits consisting of two dayglo placards about 4” x 6” would be issued to applicants at the Admin Office. One would then be displayed on the dashboard of the fisherman’s car, the other worn as a back patch which would be clearly visible from a distance. Stefania Johnson reminded everyone that a community wide clean-up is planned for Saturday, May 3rd. She is seeking volunteers to select and clean defined areas along our roadways (e.g., “I’ll pick up along Clearview loop between the two intersections with Clover). She also said a barbecue was being planned to reward volunteers for their efforts.
by Buz Whelan
The sudden resignation of GM Allen Roth came as a surprise to many and a shock to a few. Allen had only been GM for 19 months when he announced he would be leaving. Fewer than two years before he had told the search committee he was willing to commit to a minimum of three years of service to Emerald Lakes. He repeated that assertion to the board when they did the final interview. At least some part of making him the choice for GM was that promise of long service. What happened to change things?
Mr. Roth turned in his resignation on December 26th, the day after Christmas. He stated that Saturday, January 25th, just 30 days hence, would be his last day. Contrast that to the previous GM, Gil Werner, who told the board in October of 2011 that he would be retiring at the end of May, 2012. Mr. Roth’s resignation was surprising, not only because he had been here such a short time, but also because he was giving no time to find and train a replacement. As many others, I wondered why this was so.
On Thursday afternoon of January 16th I sat down in the GM’s office to get answers to my questions. In order to ensure candor on the part of the departing GM, I agreed to withhold publishing the results of the interview until he was settled in his new job in distant Colorado. He was going to serve as the general manager of a combination owner/rental chalet and RV community in that state.
First, the obvious answer to the obvious question: why are you leaving? I’m leaving for a challenging position at a higher rate of pay in a part of the country that is new and exciting (to me)…or words to that effect. There’s no surprise there; it’s exactly the answer I expected.
The more interesting question, at least to me, was this: why was he looking for another job? Why, with just over a year as GM of Emerald Lakes, did Allen Roth begin a job search? And that is where the interview got interesting.
At first Allen laughed, a trifle nervously, as if he had been hoping he wouldn’t be asked this. This is where our agreement took shape. I didn’t want some diplomatic, politically correct, but ultimately false, explanation. I wanted to know the real reason or reasons. And so I promised to delay my reporting. Agreement reached, I repeated my question. Allen hesitated, as if searching for the right way to tell me what he was afraid might offend me. I assured him that I could handle whatever he had to say. He sighed, shook his head, and then told me that Emerald Lakes was in deep trouble. We are facing deteriorating facilities, amenities that are running down and capital projects that must be done, but at costs that he doesn’t believe the community is prepared to absorb. He explained, “When whoever it was wrote your bylaws, they had a brain fart (his term). They put the membership in charge of revenue. People who have absolutely no idea what it takes to run this community are the ones who decide how much money we get. It just doesn’t work.” He went on to discuss other communities, comparing those whose revenues are controlled by a board of directors to those whose membership are in control. In example after example, it was clear that membership control eventually leads to deterioration and finally receivership (bankruptcy). He said with some apparent sadness that he doesn’t see how we are going to raise enough money to do what must be done over the next five years. He then went on to describe the current working conditions for the GM.
“Your current board is essentially dysfunctional,” he said. “You have members whose main goal seems to obstruct any progress. They have no understanding of their proper role, no true understanding of how this association works, and they make it impossible for me to do my job as I see it.” While declining to name any specific directors, he insisted that since I attend the open meetings and board workshops, “You know who they are. I don’t have to tell you.” I had to agree, but since the GM declined to be more specific, I feel bound to leave it to the reader to figure out who he meant. I said to him, “Would it be fair to state that the behavior of these certain board members was an aggravating factor in your decision to seek employment elsewhere?” He laughed and answered with two words. “Big time,” he said.