May 24, 2014 Monthly Open Board Meeting
by Buz Whelan
President Alex Leslie called the meeting to order at 9:35 pm. All seven directors were present along with GM Judy Kennedy and Preferred Management representative Brad Jones. About 25 members were also in attendance.
President’s Message: President Al Leslie announced that Preferred Management has been selected to replace our departed GM on a more or less permanent basis. The board has signed a 2 year contract with the company, with Judy Kennedy as the on-site GM. This was greeted with enthusiastic applause by all except 3 directors. Board Secretary Carmen Broadnax said that her first choice had been K. Diehl Management (formerly Appletree Management) because they are an older, more experienced company with deeper resources. Directors Solla and Fitzgerald also dissented, but a majority comprised of Treasurer Earl Frank, Vice President Millie Bishop, Director Dan Glasgow and President Alex Leslie prevailed. Following brief remarks recognizing the Memorial Day holiday and what it stands for, Leslie turned the meeting over to the treasurer.
Treasurer’s report: Treasurer Earl Frank stated he would be presenting the year-end financial figures, but cautioned that because our newly hired auditor Reilly and Co, had only just begun their audit, that these were unaudited figures. He added that the audit should be completed by mid-July.
Frank reported that our total revenue of $1.885M exceeds our budgeted revenue by $43K. This is primarily due to an increase over budgeted amounts on various fees, resale certificates, permits, and code and public safety violations of $50K. For example, this month the Appeals Committee upheld approximately $3,900 in fines. Also, as cited last month we collected $6,800 from our insurance company due to the damage to our Ford truck. These positive variances are partially offset by the bar and grill costs topping out at $22K. Our dues collection this year of $1.404M is the second highest over the past 8 years, and our attorney collected $184K on past due accounts compared to $130K last year, a 42% increase. Our total operating expense, excluding depreciation, of $1.708M is under budget by $133K or 7.5%.
For the second straight month, the treasurer tempered the rosy financial picture with a caveat. He asked members to remember that while our revenue slightly exceeds the budget and our expenses are slightly below, this is needed to ensure a positive cash flow. In order to provide sorely needed repairs and upgrades to our amenities and infrastructure, more money is needed. In addition to this, many members have expressed a desire for increased access to our amenities, with more and longer days of availability. The board and Preferred Management are trying to accomplish that this year, but our maintenance equipment also needs both repair and replacement. This will be near impossible under our current dues structure. The Finance & Planning Committee has recommended that the board ask the membership for a $100 annual dues increase.
Administration costs are under budget by $37K or 2%
Public Safety costs are under budget by $4K or 2%
Maintenance costs are under budget by 445K or 8.5%
The Community Center costs are under budget by $58K or 19%
The Bar & Grill revenue is $67K while expenses are $89K for a net loss of $22K
Finally, Mr. Frank said that if any member wants further details, they can call him or stop by the Administration Office.
Manager’s Report: The word ‘interim’ deleted from her title, GM Judy Kennedy announced the new hours for beaches and pools, covered in last week’s Emerald Lakes Free Press article. To recap, the beaches are open 7 days dawn to dusk. They will not be staffed, so swimming is at one’s own risk. Signs to that effect will be posted, along with “Members Only/No Trespassing” which will be enforced by Public Safety. The outdoor pool will be open 11am to 6pm weekdays and from 9am to 6 pm Saturday and Sunday. The indoor pool will be open Wednesday and Thursday from 6 to 9pm, Friday from 5 to 9pm, Saturday from 1 to 9pm and Sunday from 1 to 4:30pm. Kennedy announced that the Community Center staff had been reorganized and a new menu instituted. The menu is available on the association website. She also reminded everyone that diverting water and/or altering drainage so that water flows onto another’s property is strictly forbidden. Pothole patching is proceeding apace. Walk-in hours to meet with the GM have been changed from 1 to 3pm to 1:30 to 3pm to conform with lunchtime closing of the Administration Office. Saturday hours, 10am to 2 pm by appointment, remain unchanged. She closed with a reminder of our leash rules, because some loose dogs have been sighted.
Nominating Committee: Chairperson Cookie Lietwinski reported that letters had been sent to members who the committee felt were likely candidates to run for the board. Included were committee chairs and members and former board members. She said that intent to run forms were available in the office along with candidate bios and Q&As. Director June Solla asked that these be posted on the ELA website.
Events Committee: Chairperson Stefania Johnson reminded all those present of events planned for that day then went on to list future plans. There will be an Adult Night at the Community Center on Saturday, June 14th. That is also Flag Day and flags, presumably American, will be placed at the Main Entrance. There will be a Gay Pride march on June 21st and lunch for marchers. July 4th will be celebrated on, what else, July 5th, and the festivities will be combined with a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the association. This will take place on Pine Tree Beach. Another Adult Night is tentatively planned for Saturday, August 15th at the outdoor pool. On August 23rd, Dancing with the ELA Stars is also planned. In a final comment, Johnson said she took offense to a remark published in the most recent issue of the Emerald News. An opinion piece written by board Secretary Carmen Broadnax contained a sentence that read, “As an Association[sic], we spend more time and energy thinking of ever more ways of how to entertain rather than how to preserve our infrastructure.” Ms. Johnson went on to point out that planning and executing events actually provided revenue, a good thing, and additionally had no bearing on whether or not the board did its job in maintaining our amenities and infrastructure. Secretary Broadnax said that she did not mean to impugn the Events Committee, no matter what the words actually said. (This is a distillation of a spirited discussion that ensued on the subject)
Maintenance Committee: Chairperson Bob Leon researched a claim by the committee’s board liaison, June Solla, that the three dump sites we maintain are putting us in danger of serious fines by the townships in which they are located. Mr. Leon said that he met with the Tunkhannok Code Enforcement Officer who informed him that dump sites within the borders of the community are not subject to township control. He then relinquished the floor to committee member Buz Whelan who reported that the liaison had missed 6 of 8 meetings in one stretch without sending a replacement. A careful reading of the committee rulebook reveals no obligation on the part of the liaison to do that. Whelan asked that the board consider amending the rules to make such replacement mandatory.
Finance and Planning Committee: Speaking for absent Chairperson John Avrich, committee member Buz Whelan expressed disappointment that nothing had been done on the committee’s recommendation for the dues increase, a recommendation formalized at the committee’s March 15th session and included in those minutes. Whelan pointed out that the committee’s sole charge from the board, issued the previous September, was to recommend some form of revenue enhancement, yet the proposal had not even been included on the agenda of any of the board’s six succeeding meetings, not had it even been informally discussed. He pointed out that the committee members and their liaison had mentioned this at several meetings, but no action resulted. Treasurer and F&P liaison Earl Frank confirmed Whelan’s claims and expressed his own disappointment that nothing was being done.
Bylaws Committee (ad hoc) : Chair Buz Whelan reminded the board that the recommended revision to allow absentee voting, originally presented to the board at the January 25th Open Board Meeting, still had not made a single agenda. On being informed, once again, that the matter was in the hands of the attorney, Whelan expressed his frustration, pointing out that absentee voting was not a legal question, but a political one, to be decided, not by an attorney, but by our membership. He pleaded with the board to allow the membership to decide this at the Annual Meeting.
–Clause 15 The board is seeking the opinion of a second attorney, yet to be selected.
– Bylaw Changes Discussed above
–Variances Brad Jones (Preferred Management) and GM Judy Kennedy both pointed out that variances issued by the townships are not reported to the association and carry no legal requirement for notification to nearby property owners. Such bills of variance as posted on trees on affected property are done so without warning and would required constant patrolling by the CEO in order to be recorded and neighbors notified. This is not practical, nor is it a cost-effective use of the CEO’s time. Neighbors should be vigilant in watching for such notices and act according to their own interests.
–Judicial Sale Process Director June Solla objected to the association’s long-standing practice of having the association attorney handle all judicial sales. Ms. Solla feels that this is a waste of money, and should be handled by employees or designated association officers (at least I think that was her point).
–Resolution #39 – Approve Preferred Management – Two Year Contract This was approved 4 to 3, with Secretary Carmen Broadnax, and Directors Solla and Fitzgerald voting against
-Resolution #40 – Approve attorney to acquire green belt properties (This resolution would endorse a fait accompli, i.e., the purchase of a mitigated wetland on Beaver Dam Rd and 4 properties located behind the tennis courts on Cedar Drive adjacent to the outdoor pool. These were purchased at tax sale for an approximate cost of $900.) The resolution passed 4 to 3 with Secretary Broadnax, Directors Solla and Fitzgerald opposing. Discomfort at ratifying an accomplished fact was cited as a reason for dissent.
Public Comments: Buz Whelan brought attention to departing member David Pope, pointing to Pope’s many accomplishments and long service to the association. Among these were 9 years on the board, tenures as board treasurer and president, chairmanships of Finance and other committees and literally tens of thousands of hours spent in service of his community. Mr. Pope received a well-deserved sustained standing ovation. He bid us all goodbye and wished the community well. Darren Johnson rose to point out the well-known Whelan-Pope feud, expressed pleasure that it had been put aside for the good of the community and suggested it could serve as an example to others.
John Palmisano asked whether beaches, sans lifeguards, would be cleaned regularly as the guards had done at the beginning of shifts and would badges or ids be checked. He was assured that maintenance would be responsible for beach cleanliness and Public Safety for badge checking.
Mrs. Schneider, an owner-landlord, read an impassioned letter, presented in its entirety at the end of this article.
New member Kevin Marsland, who joined us in late fall 2013, expressed dissatisfaction with the timeliness of snow plowing, saying that he had to leave for work very early and that plowing beginning at 7 was too late for him. He also stated his feeling that when Public Safety parks directly in front of the CC door it presents a danger in case of fire. He also gave his opinion that events are a good thing to bring the community together.
Former board President Flo Mauri expressed her belief that whoever serves as Judge of Elections should be ethically bound to self-disqualify as a candidate for the board in that year. She reminded Carmen Broadnax that she did that in 2011 and should not repeat the act should she decide to rerun this year.
Pat Galderisi inquired if there had been any delinquency write-offs and was told there have been none for the last 3 years.
Letter regarding landlord/owners follows:
Emerald Lakes Board of Directors,
Emerald Lakes Association, Inc.
1112 Glade Drive
Long Pond, PA 18334
My husband and I attended the Emerald Lakes Real Estate Committee meeting on January 18th where the committee and attendees discussed “renter issues.”
Background Information: We have owned property at EL for about 41 years. When we bought the property, the selling points were that we could rent and make a profit. We bought our current home in 1990 and have rented “short term” since that time. We have followed all the rules that the Association has imposed on renters. To our knowledge there has never been a complaint against us or our renters.
At the meeting it seemed that residents were having problems in East Emerald lakes where landlords rent their properties. We spoke to one resident who rents on East Emerald lakes and they assured us that they care for EL and their property.
Our question: Why punish everyone for a few?
Is there a list of people who have complaints about renters?
Were the complaints investigated and addressed with the owners for corrective action?
Were they reprimanded? Fined?
If rules are going to be in place for rental properties: then these rules apply to all the residents of EL and they should be enforced i.e. parking restrictions, loud behavior, fireworks, etc.
Our question: Does EL have enough money and man power to enforce these rules?
We rent weekends, weeks and months. We are very particular as to who rents our house. By eliminating the weekend renters (typical winter weekend skiers), you limit how often we can rent our home. There are 124 long term rental properties and 50 short term rental properties within EL. EL gets income from renters and those who rent might be potential buyers.
Summation: It seems that there are complaints only from people who live on East/West Emerald lakes. Are the complaints submitted by the same individuals?
Were there complaints submitted about homes on the other lakes in the community?
We felt it important to voice our opinions and have given much thought to sending this letter. We hope you will consider some of the points we outlined above.
James and Loretta Schneider