Monthly Archives: February 2018

Emerald Lakes Board of Director’s Open Meeting, February 24, 2018

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by Kathy Leslie-Whelan

The meeting was called to order at 9:40 am. All board members were present.  Following the pledge of allegiance, Caldwell immediately called for a motion to approve the January minutes.  The minutes were accepted unanimously.

Caldwell did not give a President’s message, stating the meeting would be held off agenda. Stefania Johnson started with the Treasurer’s report.

(Money is reported on as Fiscal Year to Date)

Budget numbers

Administration $41.9K [sic] over budget

Public Safety $1,500 over budget due to camera expenses

Maintenance $10,600 over budget due to purchase of salt and truck expenses

Community Center $9,600 over budget due to maintenance

Bar and Grill $21,200 over budget due to food and beverage purchases, printing of new menus and additional food purchases for the holiday functions.

Delinquent collections December through January are at $37K for Sunrise Collection and $30K attributed to the amnesty program.

Cash on Hand – $203,200

 

Al Leslie made the motion to accept the Treasurer’s report, Bob Leon seconded the motion and it was approved unanimously.

At this point in time Brad Jones and Laura Jones (no relation) addressed the room. Mr. Jones stated that we were not going to talk about the budget today since they needed to hammer out certain details.  He would like to see the budget up to 100% accurate mathematically.  The discussion on the budget was tabled for a couple of days.  The board would meet in a few days and then it would be given to Finance and Planning (F&P) for review.  The meeting for the membership was postponed to early April.  The dues assessment date may also be moved to May 15th.  Mr. Jones stated that they are trying to stretch our dollars.  At this point in time Dave Borsos interjected that since the board wanted to take into account the feedback received from the membership during the two preliminary budget meetings.

A member, Mr. Reed from Glade Drive, asked what the board was doing about delinquent accounts, and what was the increase being voted on.  He has been in the community for 14 years and enjoys the amenities. He was told that the dues increase being requested is $200/yr and that the board is aggressively looking at collections.

Christine Robertson of Minsi Trails stated she was new and asked if the board could introduce themselves when they addressed the room.  At that time we went into Director’s comments.

After Dave Borsos introduced himself, director Jake Bower also introduced himself and stated that everyone on the board is a volunteer and that we need more volunteers to make this community successful. Al Leslie introduced himself and stated that he has been on board for 10 years and yes, there will be bingo tonight.

Diane Caldwell stated that she appreciates everyone that comes out.  She said that everyone on the board works hard doing everything to draw people out so that you will know what is going on.  Her seat is coming up in August and she has not made the decision as to whether she will run again.

Treasurer Stefania Johnson stated that she has been the treasurer for two years, and it is a difficult position.  She said that at every open meeting she conveyed to the membership that our financial condition is at a critical stage.  She further said that our home values are affected by our amenities.  Her position is also up in August and she has not decided if she will run again.  Johnson further went on to urge the membership to be open and to get the facts and not others’ perception.  Membership should be looking at the actual facts and all questions should be directed to the board to obtain the facts.

Gilda Spiotta stated that she moved here in 2004 and loves this community.  There is good, bad and ugly but she focuses on the good.  She is not a full time resident yet but she spends her weekends here.  She is open to intelligent communication.  She further stated that she heard our concerns at the preliminary budget meeting, and changes are being made. She also hoped to see people at the Valentine’s Day festivities later that night.

Bob Leon stated that new mailboxes were being ordered where the post office will install locks.  They will be at Glade Drive and the Estates.  Currently there are 29 families that need mail boxes.

Under the Manager’s report, Laura Jones thanked everyone for coming out to the two preliminary budget forums.  She stated that we listened and heard the membership and will make changes to the budget.  Our small game of chance application was denied due to the guidelines that are set but she feels that we fit in under the civic group category.  She is asking our attorney and plans on appealing that decision.

Currently the reserve study that was prepared by an engineering firm is being evaluated and a meeting will be held to go over the items. Ms Jones explained that a reserve study is a living document and changes all the time.  The example she gave was that if a roof had to be replaced every 20 years, that item would be changed to 20 years out once the work was completed.

On February 20th, Ms. Jones was notified by our insurance carrier that a new inspection will be done on March 7th on our pool area and we were instructed we could not touch that area.  Our insurance carrier is trying to subrogate the claim and hold the installer of the air hauling system responsible for the damage.  Jones further stated that they had a problem with the phones in the administration building and were not able to change the outgoing message.  Frontier was called in and they were able to change the message that identifies the correct hours of operation and staff names and extensions.  Jones updated the membership on the collections.  Between December 4th and January 3rd, Sunrise Collections collected $37K and $33K was collected under the amnesty program.  In addition, 11 delinquent members agreed to a payment plan due to the amnesty program.  These 11 members are now in good standing.  Jones reminded the membership that walk-in Wednesday is between the hours of 1 and 3 pm.  If you cannot meet with her on a Wednesday she will still meet with you via an appointment.  The membership was urged to keep that appointment, especially if Jones has to stay past her regularly scheduled hours.

At this point in time Leon requested that we start to receive numbers for the people who are on plan, have paid through Sunrise etc.  He also requested that the 4 digit phone extensions be made public.

Darryl Gamble spoke on the specifics of the new mail boxes that will be installed.  There will be three clusters ordered at $1,200 each.  Each cluster box has 16 mail slots so we will have extra boxes for any new residents.  Two clusters will be installed at Glade Drive and one installed in the Estates. Our maintenance team will install the units with the post office installing the keys.  The units will be color coordinated to match the current clusters.

Committee Chair reports started with Earl Frank of F&P.  He had no comment at this time since he just received the December statement.  Linda Shuey spoke for the maintenance committee.  This committee had two recommendations to the board.  First motion pertained to the humidity in the indoor pool area.  The committee recommended that the humidity be monitored and the data analyzed.  Actions need to be taken to limit the humidity.  Application of ‘cover free’ was recommended based on information obtained by Strand Pool.  A physical cover was researched but the cost for this cover was $10K.  Caldwell asked for safety information on this product before the board takes up the discussion on utilizing this product.  Spiotta had concerns that this chemical was safe for women. The second recommendation was that the H coil for the pool should be ordered, since we need the part, and not wait for the insurance company to conclude their research.  Ms. Jones stated that since it is a custom piece it is not wise to order since the insurance company may deem that this part is not a correct part and may have caused the damage.  Right now the insurance company is stating that they believe the cleanup of this incident is covered but not the air handler itself.

Jake Bower for Real Estate spoke of the landlord’s responsibility to relay information to renters and that another landlord meeting will be scheduled so that the committee can hear their concerns.

Chair Diane Caldwell recognized Buz Whelan to speak on F&P issues.  Mr. Whelan said he had three points. The first was that our bylaws clearly state that the notification of special meeting and the annual meeting be in member’s hands no later than 30 days prior to meeting date, not post marked 30 days before.  Brad Jones agreed saying this was part of his reasoning to move the meeting to April.  Whelan then said that most speakers at the Saturday – Monday meeting prefaced their remarks by saying they supported the budget increase or grudgingly supported its need.  The main complaint was on the cancellation of quarterly payments and the excessive charges for the pay over time plan.  Whelan suggested that assuming the dues increase passes, a small surcharge could be added as administrative costs.  Members could be charged $10 for each payment or $310 total. This would be reasonable.  At this point, Brad Jones said that Buz was getting into his head and he agreed with a similar policy.  Whelan’s final point was on the reactivation fee of $25 per membership card for delinquents being restored to good standing.  That would be a total of $250 since we are issued 10 cards. Laura Jones said she would change the wording to $25 per household, one fee for all cards.

New members were welcomed to the community there were 11 new home purchases and 5 foreclosures and sheriff sales.

Under Old Business Al Leslie made a motion to approve Resolution 2-12718 – Rental Policies, Short and Long Term.  It was seconded by Spiotta.  Borsos made an amendment to the resolution under short term rentals that it stated 30 days or fewer.  Resolution passed unanimously with the amendment.

Under New Business all resolutions were tabled since they pertained to the budget.  They were:

Resolution 1-22418 Preliminary Operating and Capital Budget Approval

Resolution 2-22418 Collection Policy

Resolution 3-22418 Payment Plan

Resolution 4-22418 Notice and Call to Special Meeting to Vote on 2018-2019 Fiscal Budgets

Resolution 5-22418 Establish the Date of Record for Members in Good Standing for the Special Meeting to Vote on 2018-2019 Fiscal Budgets

Public Comments

Linda Shuey stated she was in favor of the $200 increase but she had a problem with the budget and payment plan.  She stated that the bar and grill should pay for itself.  She further stated that Bob and Lola Lauri got the bar and grill to where it cost us a little over $100 a month, so expenditures need to be controlled.  Treasurer Johnson said that the budget included staff.  Electricity and propane were included on other lines.  There is $87K budgeted for the bar and grill.  Johnson conceded that the cost should be covered by what is an acceptable cost to operate that amenity.

Donna Brown stated that they had their property since ’76 and have always voted for a dues increase.  She fears that some of the comments on Facebook are mean spirited and that we need to work together.  Some Facebook comments seem to be coming from petulant 12 year olds.  She further stated that she understands what it’s like to have a thankless job and that she still cleans up the mailbox area on Glade Drive.

Chris Claude announced that he will be running for the board in August.  He had three recommendations for the board. 1) Board should over communicate what is going on. Meeting should be videotaped and put on website.  Time to act is now. 2) It would be nice to know the number of delinquent accounts with Sunrise.  What are the number of people who are not paying their dues?  The board needs to be more transparent. 3) Since the budget distribution is being delayed since it is not approved, how long will it take to get approved?  Mr. Jones commented that it would take 7-10 days.

Christine Robertson thanked all for volunteering and she would also like to see videotaping since so many of the membership cannot attend meetings.  In addition she would like the meeting held down to a couple of hours.  Caldwell responded that she tries to be fair and let people speak so she limited it to two minutes.  She is damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t.  She gets criticized about social media but she was advised not to speak out on the unofficial Facebook page.  She does not want to create a libelous situation.  She would like to video tape the meeting so that the membership can hear what is said instead of someone’s perception.  They are looking into the videotaping but they also need a legal opinion.

Buz Whelan stated that a meeting should be as long as it takes to do the business that has to be done.  He stated he felt that part of the meeting is ideas from the membership. As long as a member doesn’t repeat themselves and remains decorous, they should be allowed to speak.

Chris Claude added a comment that he was having difficulty stopping payments on his credit card for automatic quarterly payments. There was no easy way to terminate credit card payments.

Reporters Note: I write these reports based on notes taken during the meeting.  I get no special consideration or cooperation from the board.  I try my best to report accurately, but occasionally mistakes will be made.  I invite correction and have no desire to intentionally mischaracterize any comments or actions.

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UPDATE: Preliminary Budget Meeting – February 19, 2018

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By Kathy Leslie-Whelan

 

Monday’s budget meeting was largely a reprise of Saturday’s meeting with a few important changes.

The most dramatic change was a withdrawal of the administrative charges that increased the total owed for paying-over-time members by $350.  At least for this year, General Manager Laura Jones stated the additional charges would not be levied.  She added that she is not making any promises for next year.  Quarterly payments remain cancelled in the proposal, and the payments must be made monthly over the first six months of the fiscal year which commences on May 1st.

Jones stuck by the March 24th date for a special meeting to vote on a $200 dues increase.  Buz Whelan pointed out that our by-laws require 30 days notice of any annual or special; meeting.  In order to fulfill this requirement the ‘Call to Meeting’ would have to be mailed no later then February 22nd.  Ms. Jones disagreed and stated that association counsel told her February 24th mailing would be sufficient.

Speaking for Finance and Planning (F&P), Chairperson Earl Frank insisted there were ways to reduce costs and increase income without closing the community center or compactors.  He especially objected to the change in delinquency collection pointing out that our previous collector averaged $265K over the last three years while only $150K is currently projected as the annual total from all new sources.  He also pointed to a $60K cost of operating the grill (expense minus income) and excessive cost in maintenance department salaries.

Jones stated the budget is based on a 75% compliance rate.  She further stated that according to our auditor we are collecting only 60%.  F&P chair challenged that number since we are currently billing out at $1.925M and are collecting $1.450M.  Those numbers represent a 75% collection rate.

Many of the membership questioned why they could not have a hard copy of the preliminary budget that was projected on a screen.  The numbers projected were not large enough for the membership to see.  Jones responded that since the board has not approved it, she could not distribute it.  She further said that another meeting will be held in early March where hard copies of the budget will be distributed to the attendees.  This document will also be available at the administration building after the open board meeting on Saturday, February 24th.  It will also be posted on the official ELA website.

Regarding the compactor, one possibility suggested by Jones was a pay-for-use.  Annual or monthly charges could be levied rather than closing the facility.  No dollar amount on these charges was mentioned.  According to Jones we pay $170K annually for the compactors. Pay-for-use services would only be implemented in the event that the dues increase fails.

One interesting trend at the meeting was that virtually all speakers agreed that a dues increase was needed and probably overdue.  It was the way money is being spent, the choices made that was the focus of the objectors.

 

Preliminary Budget Meeting – February 17, 2018

 

By Kathy Leslie-WhelanClassroom_4_tnb[1]

About 30 members and 5 directors attended a meeting held to consider the preliminary budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.  A dues increase of $200 per annum was proposed as part of the budget package.

Presenter General Manager Laura Jones said that the dues increase was needed in order to maintain services as they currently are.  Should the membership reject the dues increase, Jones feels it would be necessary to close the community center which would include the bar and grill, indoor pool, exercise and meeting rooms and bingo.  She further recommends that the compactor be closed as well.  These closures would be subject to board approval.

Speaking on the details of the dues increase, Ms. Jones said that members who pay by cash or check by April 30th would receive a $50 discount.  Those who pay by credit card would pay the full $1,200.  For those unable to pay the full amount by the due date, a six month pay plan would be available.  The fees and interest associated with the payment plan would bring the total obligation to $1,550.  Several members present objected strenuously to the short notice of the payment option changes, leaving them unprepared to pay the full amount.

While agreeing that a dues increase is overdue, several members of the Finance and Planning (F&P) Committee disagreed with the necessity to close facilities if the increase is rejected.  F&P chair, Earl Frank prefaced his remarks by stating he believes a dues increase is needed.  He went on to say that should the membership refuse the increase it would not be necessary to close either the community center or the compactors. He said that savings could be found in a number of areas, citing delinquency collections, legal fees, maintenance payroll and the grill, which he said is hemorrhaging money.  He said it all adds up to around $350K.  Buz Whelan agreed with Frank saying that changing from a successful collector who averaged approximately $265K/yr for the last three years to a system involving in-house collections and a collection agency increased costs while reducing projected income.  He further said that switching to an attorney who charged far more than our previous attorney and one who we quit in the ’90s because he was too expensive was wasteful.  He also said that the grill, budgeted to lose almost $60K, was an unnecessary ‘want’ rather than a need.

When member Bridgitte Hoff asked if quarterly payments would be continued, Jones rolled out the proposed payment plan that would replace the quarterlies.  The total price of $1,550 drew angry responses from all corners of the room.

During her presentation, Ms. Jones spoke in the first person singular, telling the room what she was going to change, what she would close if the increase failed and so on.  At one point, member Buz Whelan emphasized that the bylaws give the board dominion over all amenities, facilities and services, and that a legal opinion to that effect was obtained in 2010.  Ms. Jones could recommend, but only the board could act on these proposals.

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