August 23, 2014 Annual Meeting
This year’s annual meeting opened with a bombshell report from the auditor. A scheduling conflict meant that Auditor Scott Miller of Riley and Company had to give his report via cell phone, held up to the microphone for the audience to try to understand. This less-than-ideal situation left the audience straining to hear and the auditor was unable to answer questions clearly during his presentation. He noted that discrepancies between the number of lots in the association and the number of lots that are being billed prevent them from rendering an opinion on the financial statements of our Association. This is the “Clause 15” problem that the board has been recently investigating. At issue is the status of certain lots that may or may not belong to ELA. When asked if he saw any indication of impropriety or foul play, Mr. Miller stated that he saw none, but that he is not a lawyer and so could not make a determination on the matter. Many members were upset that the auditor was not in attendance and felt that the meeting should have been rescheduled to allow him to be there to explain this situation more fully and to answer questions. Board President Alex Leslie, Manager Judy Kennedy and Treasurer Earl Frank all agreed that the Board will need to focus on developing an accurate membership list and determine the steps necessary to collect dues from all appropriate members. Mr. Frank predicted an additional $50k in legal costs to address this problem.
President’s and Manager’s Reports
Alex Leslie and Judy Kennedy also discussed the highlights of their work over the past year, including the selection of a new lawyer, accounting firm and management company. New maintenance equipment was acquired at a cost of $103k. The rebuilding of the equipment shed is in progress. There are extended hours at various amenities, and staff and procedural changes have been put in place at the Community Center. They have begun addressing drainage concerns and road patching and repair work will continue into the fall. They have also instituted walk-in hours for members to talk to management at the Administration building on Wednesdays from 1:30 to 3:30 and by appointment on Saturdays from 10 to 2.
Earl Frank reported that the past year’s dues collected were the second highest ever, at $1.404m, including $184k in delinquencies. Operations expenses were $1.501m which was 6% under the budgeted amount. The Emerald Grill came in at $89k in expenses and $67k in revenue, for an overall cost of $22k. Our reserves are at $459k, but should be closer to $1.6m.
Our lawyer, Ed Hoffman introduced himself and described four issues that he would be focusing on for the Association. First, title search and forensic examination of documents to determine the actual lots for purposes of voting and assessments. Second, bylaws amendments, including an allowance for absentee balloting, Powers-of-Attorney and proxies. Third, the examination of fishing and conservation policies, specifically regarding ice fishing and possible liabilities to the Association. Fourth, the matter of real estate policies regarding the possible restriction of short-term (less than 7 days) rental of properties and the relation to Fair Housing and discrimination laws. In response to a question by Pat Galderisi, he also described the difference between various governing documents for our community. He called our covenants our controlling documents, with functions that are similar to the U.S, Constitution, but specifically for our community. Next in authority are the bylaws, which govern internal operations, then the Rules and Regulations which cover day-to-day functions and set procedures for collections and fines.
When asked how our collection policies and collection rates, Mr. Hoffman stated that ELA has a different lawyer for collections, but that he believed the procedures were being followed. Brad Jones, of Preferred Management steeped in to add that the national average for collections was around 85% and for communities of our size between 80 and 82%. When asked why we don’t hire a different lawyer for collections, he responded that while this is something we could do for future accounts, all accounts that have been turned over to the current lawyer had to remain with him until collected. This is standard procedure for all collections because the holder has already incurred costs in trying to resolve these accounts.
At this point, the floor was open for discussion of the recommendation to ban smoking at the Community Center and the dues increase proposal. Each speaker was allowed 2 minutes to discuss the issue, with up to 5 speakers allowed to argue for and 5 against each proposal. There seemed to be little interest in the smoking issue, with only one person willing to stand for each side. This was not true for the dues increase, as many speakers lined up to be heard. Those against the increase cited the discrepancies in the audit, the lack of information about what the additional funds will be used for, and the lack of proper management as reasons to reject the proposal. Speaking for the increase, members pointed to the need for repairs and upgrades to our amenities and services to maintain property values and account for increased costs.
Finally we came to the election portion of the meeting. This year, in addition to the four slated candidates, four people chose to run from the floor. These were Carmen Brodnax, Diane Caldwell, Earl Frank and Joseph Olall. Beginning with the candidates from the floor, each candidate was given four minutes to make a speech to the attendees.
In the end, Robert Lauri and Buz Whelan were elected to three-year terms and Diane Caldwell was elected to a one-year term. The dues increase did not pass and the smoking recommendation did pass, banning smoking at the Community Center at all times and in all locations . Currently smoking had been allowed from 8pm to closing in the bar room only. At the organizational meeting held by the new board, Daniel Glasgow was chosen as President, Robert Lauri as Vice President, Millie Bishop as Treasurer and Diane Caldwell as Secretary. Below are the vote counts:
194 total ballots cast
181 ballots were valid
Robert Lauri (99 votes) and Buz Whelan (95 votes) each gained a 3-year term, and Diane Caldwell (70 votes) gained a 1-year term.
Joseph Olall (66 votes), Earl Frank (58 votes), Bob Leon (55 votes), Carmen Brodnax (54 votes), and Connie Simpson (21 votes) were the rest of the candidate results.
The dues increase did not pass (134 No, 58 Yes)
The No Smoking Resolution passed (136 Yes, 48 No) (This means there will be no smoking in the CC).