Emerald Lakes Board of Director’s Open Meeting, April 28, 2018
by Kathy Leslie-Whelan
The meeting was called to order at 9:31 am by Al Leslie, followed by the pledge of allegiance. All board members were present with the exception of Diane Caldwell who attended the meeting remotely. Laura Jones from Preferred Management was absent with Brad Jones filling in.
Leslie immediately called for a motion to approve the March 10th minutes. Jake Bower made the motion and Bob Leon seconded it. The minutes were accepted unanimously.
Leslie read the standard board meeting procedures which stated the meeting would be held in accordance with Roberts Rules of Order and cautioned the membership that inappropriate language would not be tolerated. He stated that any member who received two warnings would be asked to leave the meeting. The membership was not allowed to comment on the meeting until public comments and that 2 minutes will be allotted to each member in good standing.
The meeting was recorded and minutes were taken by Nicole Clemens. Leslie called for a motion to approve the March 24th minutes. Stefania Johnson made the motion and Gilda Spiotta seconded it. The minutes were accepted unanimously.
Leslie went on to say that there would be no president’s message since he just heard he was chairing the meeting.
The floor was turned over to Stefania Johnson for the treasurer’s report. The numbers reported were based on Fiscal Year to Date (FYTD) numbers.
Administration $14,210 over after removal of doubtful accounts.
Public Safety $1,452 over due to camera, salaries and insurance.
Maintenance $17,820 over due to vehicles and snow.
Community Center $1,522 under
Bar and Grill $2,216 under where a profit of $1,119 was made in March. Johnson stated that it is too little too late.
Collections – $278K FYTD
Collections from December to March
Sunrise – $43,646
Amnesty program – $68,600.
Previous Attorney – $166,310
Johnson stated that a breakdown of in-house collections will be provided in the future.
Assets – $268,529
Accounts Receivables – $485,182
Fixed Assets – $95,112
Reserves – $221,186 Last Year at this time $389,578
Dues Collections this year $1.3M, last year $1.2M and in 2015/2016 $1.39M.
Bower made motion to accept treasurer’s report, seconded by Leon. Report accepted unanimously.
Brad Jones started the manager’s report saying that the preliminary budget will be available to the membership for review on the official web site and at the administration office after the meeting when the board approved the revised budget that did not include the failed $200 annual increase. Jones stated that any delinquent account at $1,000 or less will be handled in house by phone and/or letters. Maintenance staff are currently fixing pot holes due to the harsh winter that we had. Roads are being prepped for work to be scheduled in the summertime. Maintenance is also working on the lakes and outdoor pool. Our fishing club will be installing artificial structures in our lakes. Boaters and swimmers were asked to avoid these structures if they see them. The structures are to help smaller fish survive by giving them an area to hide. This action is based on the recommendation of the lake maintenance contractor and will cut down on the need to restock the lakes.
Leon opened up the director’s comments by explaining why the geese eggs on our beaches are being targeted. Goose poop can cause E coli in our lakes and closing down of swimming areas. Lakes are tested on a weekly basis.
Borsos made a few observations on the special meeting. He stated that it was inefficient that people had to wait in lines so long which led to the 48 minute delay in starting the meeting. He was disappointed in the decorum of the meeting and that all the shouting made it difficult to hear what was going on. He was disappointed that the misstated points were not clarified when the membership was given their two minutes of floor time. An example he gave was that someone asked why the cook was considered full time when the kitchen is only open part time.
Bower stated that he would love to see as many people that showed up for this meeting to show up on a regular basis. He stated that our committees are skeletons so they are looking for more people to volunteer.
Johnson wanted to echo the sentiments of her fellow board members. Johnson is frustrated and stated we are in a tight monetary situation and have been for years. Services will continue to be cut and amenities will not be maintained. Johnson stated we are in this together. We have to work together. She further stated that things will not get done overnight. She appreciates the large turnout.
Caldwell had no comment.
Spiotta stated that she pays her dues as well as picks up trash. She tries to participate in events and that we are all in this together. She further stated that the butterfly garden cleaning will be on May 19th between the hours of 1PM to 4PM with a rain date of May 20th. Borsos interjected that the money for the butterfly garden came from the volunteers and that no association money was used.
Leslie stated that there are two distinct groups, one in favor and one that are doubters/haters. He urged people to come out and be informed. The special meeting was an example of what is wrong with our community. He hopes that things will turn around.
Johnson stated that they are trying to make the meeting more accessible to the membership, and she is hopeful that it will happen soon.
Under committee chair reports, Louise Leon spoke on behalf of the water aerobics club. She stated, “Wow, what a mess. The pool is out more than it is open.” She bought here for the pools since she and her daughter are avid swimmers. The pool is great for seniors to exercise.
Earl Frank, chair of Finance and Planning (F&P) stated that his committee would not approve the budget unless depreciation, which is an expense, is included on the budget. He asked when was the last time an inventory was completed on our assets. He also stated that with the new people in the office that there were a lot of adjustments and that we are going into the last month of our fiscal year. He requested a sit down to go over the delinquent collections.
Bower spoke for the Real Estate committee. He stated that there is a landlord meeting being planned to identify how we can help them. It is important that landlords communicate with their tenants.
Johnson spoke for the Events committee. Due to the committee members working long hours, this committee has gotten small and they are in dire need of volunteers to build more of a neighborly atmosphere. They need people to help execute the events.
Spiotta spoke on behalf of Rules and Regulations. She stated there was no new information and the last meeting was held over the winter. The next scheduled meeting will be on May 12th at 9:30 in the administration building. The meeting will be held with management to discuss what rules are enforceable and which ones are in conflict.
Eleven new members were welcomed to the neighborhood. Johnson made the motion to accept the new members, which was seconded by Leon. Passed unanimously.
Under new business, Jones stated that the 2017/2018 audit has been started by our outside auditor. It is anticipated to have this report in June. Jones went on to talk about the budget which he stated was bare bones. Service cuts will include elimination of the grill; bar will be open on Friday and Saturday only and will serve finger foods (hours can be expanded if there is traffic); compacter will be open 3 days instead of four which will reduce staffing (Saturday, Sunday and a day to be determined based on when garbage is hauled by contractor. Hours will remain the same on the weekend, but have not been established for the weekday.); road funds were reduced from $110K to $45K; temporary solution for bathhouse consisting of a structure for pool equipment and porta-potties.
An explanation was given for $100K identified in the old preliminary budget. The drainage system there is obsolete/non-existent and there is a cracked foundation, so the old structure was condemned and had to be removed. Excavation and a new drainage/septic system is needed. Engineering stamps of approval are needed as well as township permits (house construction permits are required). A new foundation has to be poured and a structure built that is ADA compliant. Need to change fencing and widen walkways and a chair has to be installed so that handicapped members can get into the pool.
Currently maintenance vehicles need to be replaced but there is no funding. Preferred Management recommended financing the vehicle over 5 years but the board decided to buy one out of reserves for $65K as a onetime purchase. New roads to be paved will be from special funding at $137K and is separate from budget.
Jones stated that a depreciation schedule from the auditor will be sent to Frank of F&P.
All directors commented on how low our reserves are.
Resolution # 1-42418 – Preliminary 2018-2019 Operating and Capital Budget Approval
Leon questioned why a special meeting was needrd to approve the budget and was told that it had to be after the 30 day membership review.
Bower made a motion to accept the revised preliminary budget which was seconded by Borsos. Passed unanimously.
Resolution 2-42418 – Rescinding of Temporary Trash Pass Policy
Members not in good standing will no longer be able to use the compactor. No discussion.
Johnson made a motion to accept rescinding temporary trash passes which was seconded by Bower. Passed unanimously.
Joan Gregorio stated that she wanted to vote for an increase but wants to know where the money is going. She questioned what was going on with the pool. She uses the pool as medicine for her back. Jones told her it was an insurance issue and there were already 3 meetings with the insurance company. Our attorney is pushing them but we cannot touch the pool until the insurance carrier makes a determination of what caused problem. Jones also stated that the money for the new dehumidification system is in the preliminary budget. (Reporter note: the insurance company in question is not our carrier but a contractor’s carrier. Anticipated repair costs are $5K.)
Monica asked if our cash reserves were being invested and was told that a portion was.
Christine Elizabeth thanked the board and handed them a petition to request that proxy voting for members in good standing be added to the August annual open meeting for membership vote.
Adam has been a resident for two years and questioned why all the money was asked for when taxes are due. Payments should be spread out over 12 months. He recommended that for security services we go to the police and finally we should put money in roads.
Darren Johnson suggested that all services be taken away and that we raze the buildings. Then he can start making plans to get out of here. He stated that social media is toxic, vitriol. The board will not comment on social media. Jones interjected that social media is frustrating and the board does not engage in social media. The comments are reactive and the board chooses to be proactive. Eventually you will be able to watch the board meeting via Facebook. There is too much misinformation out there. The board is being proactive so that people can watch in real time and see what is being said. Ms. Johnson interjected that they were on an austerity plan and that a reserve study will be released soon on all of our amenities which will include the life expectancy of them. There are $6-7M worth of repairs and maintenance of assets over the next 5 plus years. Ms Johnson stated that if we remove all the amenities we will only have administration, roads and lakes. Leon stated that the board is responsible for the amenities and we cannot eliminate them.
Larell Marie stated she understands the need for an increase but the board should be going for a smaller increase. Also she felt the penalties were unfair and that monthly or quarterly payments should be allowed.
Heidi Castro stated that the board did get an increase in the $60 that is being charged for people that opt to pay for the first six months. She questioned where this money was going. She stated the association should spend more resources on the watersheds. Water can be overwhelming and is coming up onto people’s properties close to their homes. Jones stated that all revenue collected as an administrative fee will go into operations. As to standing water on properties the owner is responsible to maintain the culverts.
Connie Simpson stated that a new home being built by her has no culvert. Jones responded that that is the last item that they install.
Kathy Rich asked what strategy is in place for irresponsible landlords. The septic systems are being overwhelmed, there is abusive language, there are too many cars, garbage is strewn all over. What recourse does she have? Bower stated that they are enforcing the rules and regulations and are identifying landlords. Any issues should be reported to the main office, Darryl Gamble and Ralph Musto.
Reggie asked about changing insurance companies since it is too long for them to resolve our case with the indoor pool. Jones told him it was just not our insurance carrier but our plumber’s carrier. We cannot touch system until it is resolved.
Louis Schneider asked why we were being punished for people that owe back dues and what are we getting for our money. Leslie stated that they changed the collection policy and are aggressively going after the delinquent accounts.
Flo Mauri stated that we have an engaged audience and we were informed and got an education about the $100K for the bathhouse. She recommended an ad hoc committee to look into why we need and how to get a dues increase.
Pat Galderisi questioned how much of our dues money was going into reserves. Jones told her that $200 was going into reserves and $800 into operations. Galderisi stated that last quarter 53% of membership was non compliant and did not pay their dues. Money hasn’t been put back into reserves. Classic/Wengerd pays no dues, no transfer fees. She requested a copy of the letter sent to our auditor requesting a full audit. She wanted to know who recommended the lake structures and was told it was by our lake maintenance contractor.
Galderisi stated she did not vote for a dues increase and it broke her heart. She feels the board is not transparent in our financials. She further stated that Classic sold over 50 homes in ELA and we did not get a transfer tree. ELA just settled with him. Galderisi also stated that there were “straw buyers” present at our special meeting casting votes. Jones responded that Classic pays their assessment when they sell their property and that we do go after them. We cannot prohibit this contractor from building. Brad further stated that they are not allowed to vote.
Igor Palka questioned that in addition to the $5K to fix the pool, what are attorney costs? Palka also questioned why all our dues money was required up front. Jones stated that he cannot give any more information on the pool but that the dues were needed up front since there was a small window of time to perform required maintenance in the community. Jones stated that 75% of the budget was spent in the first six months of our fiscal year. The $10 administrative fee is not a penalty.
Jay Caruso asked who do we ask to find out information on the insurance company and what legal actions can we take. Jones said he would look into protocol for members to contact insurer directly.
Louise Leon stated that she moved here for a recreational community.
Joe Olall stated that each township has a board of supervisors and that not a penny of our taxes comes back into our community. We should go to the township to get some money. We can solve the problem by installing one of our own to this position. If the supervisor doesn’t give us funds, we should vote them out.
Edward B. stated that he had no problem with increase but 6 month payments in a row is crazy.
Jeff B felt the same way. People do not have the means to pay six months in a row.
Jenn Gonzalez thanked the board for attempting to make the meeting more accessible to the membership. She agreed with Kathy Rich that this one rental house was a problem. She questioned what was happening to the geese eggs and if they were being destroyed. Jones stated that they are identified and reported to the state which then issues a permit for addling. The eggs are addled which means the eggs are physically rubbed with oil which prevents them from hatching. Gonzalez further commented on the insurance carrier for the pool and what time line are they on. She asked if the pool hours would change with the bar and grill hours. She questioned if we have shopped around for pricing on the pool house and was told that they are still looking into it. Finally she questioned if there was an age limit for the committees and volunteering. Johnson responded that we tried to get teen groups together as well as a parents’ club. These attempts were unsuccessful. If Gonzalez can find teens or people please let them come forward. Thomas P suggested that Penn Dot is currently doing milling and that we can reuse that material to do road work.
Joe Morgan stated that our unofficial face book page has 850 members that post all the time. If information is incorrect or numbers are wrong, why can’t it be corrected? The board should educate the members in a responsible way. Johnson stated she was not allowed to comment on the page. Over a period of time the page has gotten worse. She stated the board was cognizant of the page. Morgan questioned if the board had an action list for answering questions. He was told that the board addresses the questions directly to the individual or at the next meeting.
Kathy Leslie-Whelan commented for Bob Lauri who could not stay for the whole meeting. He felt that the board should be educating the membership on the website about important issues about reserve funding etc. Leslie-Whelan than asked about the Paul Capozzoli Memorial Scholarship and stated that she and her husband would like to contribute an addition $100 to the fund like they did last year. Caldwell stated that she sent the check for $200 to the guidance counselor at the high school. Jones stated that the board fulfilled their obligation and that if she wanted to contribute something she should do it on her own.
Buz Whelan started his comments with a compliment. How the board managed to get a cover letter written on April 20th into an envelope that was mailed on April 19th was beyond him. “This is real David Copperfield,” Whelan said. Whelan stated that when the membership approved the last dues increase they were promised 2 things, whether or not the word ‘promise’ was used. They were told that there would be quarterly payments and further that $200K would be dedicated to road maintenance. The quarterly payment argument has been made. But the latest budget, just passed, has repaving set at $165K down $35K from the amount promised. That makes two promises broken. Further, Bob Leon was correct earlier when he said the budget being passed was not presented first to the membership for comment which is required by our bylaws. The board put us in this position by waiting until April to ask for an increase. This need was known for over two years and the meeting should have been held in January or February. But Pa law requires a budget be in place by the beginning of the fiscal year, May 1st. Whelan said that he and others warned at three separate meetings that the meeting was headed for disaster, but the warnings were ignored. He then said that month after month resolutions reflecting complex issues are passed with little or no discussion telling him that the real discussions and decisions are made at the secret, closed workshops. Why should the membership trust the board as they repeatedly ask when they don’t keep promises or respect the membership?
Pat Galderisi stated that the April 14th meeting was premeditated to make the board look bad. It was an ambush to make it look like the board didn’t know what they were doing.
Meeting was adjourned at 12:17 PM.
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.