March 22, 2014 Monthly Open Board of Directors Meeting
by Buz Whelan
The meeting was called to order at 9:32 am and the minutes of the Feb. 22 meeting were approved.
President’s Message: President Al Leslie praised the fishing club for their comprehensive plan to control ice fishing, but said it would not be approved until after the association attorney and our insurance company’s representatives studied and commented on it. He said that the indoor pool temperature, which had fallen to 80 degrees was being raised to 82.
Treasurer’s Report: Treasurer Earl Frank reported that revenues currently exceed our budget by $41,000 primarily due to increases in various fees, resale certificates, permits, and code and public safety citations. Dues collected to date of $1,351,000 (rounded) are over last year’s at this point by $24,000. Over the last 5 months dues collections are $58,000 over the same period last year. In addition, our attorney has collected $156,000 in past due accounts as opposed to $88,000 at this time last year. Last year’s past due collections totaled $131,000 (for 12 months). At this current rate, we will collect approximately $185,000, or 40% better, this year.
Our total operating budget of $1,466,000, excluding depreciation, is under by $86,000, but Frank cautioned that this does include all expenses incurred due to the unusually cold and snowy weather we have recently experienced.
Frank gave some specific examples of budget performance:
1. Administration costs are under budget by $24,000 as salaries and benefits are under budget by some $17,000.
2. Public Safety is under budget by $2,000 as all accounts are close to budgeted amounts.
3. Maintenance is under budget by $25,000 due to favorable variances in salaries and related benefits of $21,000, lake weed control of $5,000 and vehicle supplies and maintenance of $14,000. This is offset by unfavorable variances of $5,000 in trash removal and $12,000 in snow removal.
4. The Community Center is under budget by $47,000 due to favorable variances in salaries and related benefits of $28,000; items related to pool maintenance of $10,000; and heating and supply costs of $8,000.
5. The Emerald Bar & Grill revenue (YTD) is $57,000, while total costs are $77,000 for a net cost of $20,000.
Frank closed by saying our total budget for snow removal is $50,000. We are now at $49,000. Also, our electric bills have almost doubled in the last month. Reserves are at $257,000.
Manager’s Report: Presentations for our audit contract are scheduled for March 25th. The Public Safety tracking system, originally installed in 2009 is being reactivated and the scanning system will be upgraded to give greater scope and definition. In the Bar & Grill, the smoke eater filter, which should be changed quarterly (and has been neglected) costs $600 each. We may have to ban smoking altogether in the bar. We also have to measure our food service to smoking ratio to ensure we meet state standards. An associated problem involving smoking revolves around as yet unsubstantiated reports that smokers often carry alcoholic beverages outside to the smoking shelter, which is forbidden by law, and there may be some consumption of alcohol by minors at that point. It was also reported that the maintenance vehicle damaged by the shed roof collapse is at the body shop and should be returned this coming week.
Committee Reports: Events Chair Stefania Johnson reminded all that May 3rd is Community Cleanup Day and volunteers are being sought. That is also the date of Comedy Night V, featuring host Buz Whelan, and comics Tommy Gooch and Johnny Watson. Both of these comedians appeared last year, killed, and are coming back with all new material. Tickets of $12 in advance will be on sale at the CC beginning Thursday, March 27th. They will cost $15 at the door if any are left. She is coordinating with staff to have all events posted on the official ELA website (www.elainc.org).
Bob Leon reported a revival of the walking club. They will meet in the Pine Tree Beach parking lot on Saturday, March 29th at 2pm.
Board Secretary Carmen Broadnax, liaison to the Real Estate Committee showed a poster the committee prepared and recommends to be posted prominently inside all rental units. It is made up of all Rules and Regulations most pertinent to renters, and especially to short term renters. Committee member Jake Bower, a home owner in Emerald Lakes and landlord in Towamensing Trails reported that Towamensing collects approximately $150,000 annually from rental fees and fines.
Reporting for the Finance and Planning Committee, Buz Whelan said that the committee’s earlier recommendation for a Special Assessment had been removed from the table until more specific cost information for the major projects (CC HVAC and boiler, Pine Tree Lake dam valve and evacuation pipe repair) could be obtained. This should be available by late spring. The committee is recommending to the board that they ask the membership for a $100 annual dues increase, to become effective November 1, 2014, the date of the third quarterly payment. This would increase quarterly payments by $25, with total dues for the 2014/2015 fiscal year of $1050 and $1,100 annually thereafter.
Old Business: Board Secretary Carmen Broadnax reported on the Clause 15 property investigation. These are properties within Emerald Lakes borders whose obligation to the association is unclear. Some are not listed as Emerald Lakes properties on the deeds, and most are not being billed for dues as a result. There has been some legal opinion that they may be obligated to pay some or all of the normal dues since they enjoy many or all of the benefits derived therefrom. A packet has been prepared of a sample of some 45 properties and legal opinion is being sought. There may be many more properties in the Lakes District, the Estates, Jack Frost and possibly Blueberry Estates. Others, including Pat Galderisi have assisted in gathering this information, which is a tedious task involving title searching.
New Business: The board passed three resolutions. Resolution 34 approved the budget submitted by the management team and previously by the Finance and Planning Committee. Members may request a copy for examination and comment by going to the Admin Office during normal business hours prior to its final adoption at the April Open Meeting. Passed unanimously.
Resolution 35 requires that any fire used as a set piece at an event be contained in an outdoor fireplace. Bonfires and fires set in open pits are forbidden. Passed unanimously.
Resolution 36 approved the funding to print the Clause 15 report and send to the attorney for his opinion. Passed unanimously.
Public Comments: Joe Olall asked the treasurer why the Emerald Bar & Grill was costing so much to operate ($20,000 YTD). Both Earl Frank and Brad Jones said that overbuying played a large part and that measures have been taken to correct the condition. Mr. Olall also asked about the doubling of the electric bill. Mr. Jones said we had been on a variable rate and pointed to the fact that statewide this rapid increase in charges was being investigated by the attorney general. He said that we are now on fixed charges, though it was unclear as to how soon they take effect. Olall also suggested that a second budget, one that would show what could be done had we sufficient funds, be prepared as an exemplar. Stefania Johnson suggested that some form of after school program be restored. Kathy Leach commented on severe pot holes on Clearview Drive and Sullivan Trail. She asked whether EL or the township is responsible. Since they are actually inside the boundaries of the community, they are EL’s responsibility.
Buz Whelan (the author of this article) pointed out that an article he wrote for the Emerald News at the request of the Finance and Planning Committee was refused by the Communications Committee. I will write of the details of this incident and discussion in an article to follow. It will be published in this space no later than Wednesday, March 26th.