Emerald Lakes Board of Director’s Open Meeting, September 22, 2018
by Kathy Leslie-Whelan
The meeting was called to order at 9:38 am. All board members were present. Your new board members are Dave Borsos, Chris Claude – Vice President, Steve Kavanagh – Treasurer, Bob Leon, Ange Noonan, Gilda Spiotta – Secretary and Buz Whelan – President.
Following the pledge of allegiance, Buz Whelan started his President’s message letting the membership know that the meeting was being live streamed and that it was being held in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order. He thanked the previous board members for their services. Al Leslie served a total of 10 years, Diane Caldwell served 4 years and Stephania Johnson served for 3 years. Jake Bower, who resigned at the end of the August annual meeting, served for 1 year. New this year, the board may respond on social media, however, they will not be speaking on behalf of the board. Walk-in Wednesdays, between the hours of 1:30 and 3:30 will begin on this Wednesday, September 26th. Two board members will be available to address the memberships concerns and questions. Whelan also stated that employee stability was important to the board. Over the last 4 years, under the management company, it has been like a revolving door. We have had 3 or 4 maintenance chiefs and 3 general managers. Changing staff so often costs the association money. Whelan stated they wanted to staff to feel respected and valued so the board implemented a holiday and vacation schedule. Full time staff will receive 5 Monday holidays and 4 floating holidays. Vacation schedules will be 1 week for employees under 1 year of service, 2 weeks for 1 to 5 years of service, 3 weeks for 5 to 10 years of service, 4 weeks for 10 to 15 years of service and 5 weeks for over 15 years of service. Whelan stated that Darryl Gamble reports to the board and can make all personnel decisions, however, if a full time employee is terminated they can always appeal to the board of directors. This board is looking for more stability in staffing.
Whelan stated that we have physical plant challenges. The indoor pool has three main issues. The facility may need a roof, the $300K dehumidification system has to be installed and mold must be removed. The outdoor pool will open on time next year so the preparation will start early enough to make it happen.
Whelan stated that they wanted to try an experiment and have bingo on two Saturday nights a month and two Sunday afternoons a month. This was to allow other functions to be held on a Saturday since certain members requested that karaoke and other events are being shut out. Noise from such events disturbs the bingo players.
Buz Whelan gave the Treasurer’s report since he filled in for Steve Kavanagh at the last Finance and Planning meeting. As of August 31st, dues collection is at $555K, delinquency collections is at $156K. Delinquency accounts are due to the hard work of our General Manager, Darryl Gamble and Office Manager/Administrative Assistant, Nicole Clemens. Whelan stated that there was no question that a dues increase was needed. This was once a premier community and the intent is to bring us back up to that level. We also have 36 miles of roads to maintain as well as 2 pools. Community Center numbers were not reported on since all money spent at the CC was lumped into bar expenses. Those numbers will be broken out for the next meeting. Leon made the motion to accept the Treasurer’s report. It was seconded by Claude and Borsos. The report was accepted unanimously.
Darryl Gamble started his report commending the maintenance staff. They have been cleaning up the areas and filling up pot holes. Due to the heavy rain there were a few problems with standing water. He is limited in what he can do but he is looking into spraying for mosquitoes, etc in spring. Road work will commence shortly and an email blast will be sent out to inform the membership of when and when this is happening. There is no money in the budget to pave dirt roads, however, Gamble is looking to see if we have any left over to pave 1 or 2 of them. The plan is to start to build up the money for paving of the dirt roads and possibly start earlier. Money from the sale of homes is earmarked for this work. Tar buggies that run on propane are currently being researched. These buggies will assist maintenance with filling in the cracks. Gamble is also looking to purchase a roller since maintenance is currently tamping the cold patch which is not as effective as rolling.
The outdoor pool needs a final permit or CO from township. We failed to obtain that when the pool opened this year. We failed the final inspection and are currently making corrections and working within the money that was already invested. Going forward work will be done right instead of using band aids for repairs.
The indoor pool has a vendor to complete the mold remediation. The air quality work needs to be completed first with the installation of a dehumidification system before the mold can be removed. Falcon engineering was given $7K to redraft the specifications for the system and almost $3K to oversee the bid and installation process. Bids were supposed to be in on August 10th but Falcon has been unresponsive to phone calls. Gamble wants to look at the project as a whole and look at other alternatives. Gamble will keep the membership informed of progress. Further action may be holding Falcon in breach and looking for other Engineering companies within a 50 mile radius.
Joe Gallagher is still treating the cabomba that is in our lakes. He is waiting for a report on what is being treated and what are we doing forward. Funds are available for the services being rendered on the lakes.
Ruth and Bowen will be inspecting our bridges and dams in October. They did a preliminary review in April and maintenance staff is currently clearing the spillways.
Maintenance vehicles are ready for winter and extra parts were ordered to replace parts that break/fall off during plowing. All non-snow equipment is stored properly.
Compactor hours will be changing to Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday between the hours of 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM. For this next week it will also be opened on Wednesday to give sufficient notice to the membership. When the hours were changed to save money it ended up costing more money since more pick-ups were required. Currently Gamble and Clemens are researching other haulers and doing a cost analysis on the recycling costs. The recycling compactor was supposed to save the association $10K but there is no evidence of this savings. The recycling compactor requires an additional attendant. Gamble stated that all compactors should be under a lease agreement so that we are not responsible for repairs.
Since the association has already paid for our football package with Direct TV, football Sundays will resume next Sunday. Trunk or Treat will be held in the CC parking lot this year as well as story time with Santa. The events budget is limited but would like to have a few events. A hayride may be able to be scheduled and he is looking for volunteers to help with the events. All members will be made aware of all projects as well as events.
The membership will be notified that boats should be removed from the racks by November 15th. Boats will not be removed by the Association if they do not meet this date. Any boats not removed will not be at the responsibility of the Association. The owner will be responsible for any damage or thief.
Ange Noonan thanked all who voted for her. She stated that everyone on the board are volunteers and work hard. Noonan was tasked with polling the bingo crowd and stated that 98% said no about moving 2 nights a month to Sunday afternoon. She stated that they have been there forever and that they are like a family. It is an eclectic crowd and she stated that “if it ain’t broke, why fix it”. There is a minimum of 20 people that attend bingo. If there is an event then bingo can be cancelled for that night,
Dave Borsos commented that he agrees with doing things right the first time, and he likes Gamble’s approach. He appreciates our General Manager being on top of maintenance. Borsos questioned Whelan on vacation time for staff and confirmed that staff with under one year of service would only be receiving 1 week.
Bob Leon spoke about starting a photography club. He recently rediscovered his love of photography. If interested you can email him at email@example.com.
Chris Claude spoke as the liaison for the maintenance committee. He stated that there are many projects that need to be worked on. Instead of band aid fixes, projects will be completed correctly. They are currently prioritizing projects and developing a maintenance cycle. Claude said the dams have to be maintained since we are responsible for everything that happens downstream. One event can wipe us out. Claude also commended Gamble on all the maintenance that has been performed on off season equipment.
Gilda Spiotta agreed with Noonan by reiterating that bingo was an eclectic group. She also stated that she did not get her agenda for the meeting with enough time to comment on it. She stated we need volunteers and that we should have a conservation club. Spiotta stated she was working on the first newsletter and if anyone wants to contribute articles or pictures she welcomes them. The newsletter will be published monthly and anyone wanting to contribute a story, jokes or suggestions please do so. Linda Shuey stated that she doesn’t want to see canned articles that are not relevant to the association.
Committee Chair Reports/Recommendations
On behalf of Finance and Planning, Chair Earl Frank welcomed two new members to the committee. 9 recommendations were submitted to the board and he was happy to see that some were already acted on. He pointed out that trash removal expenses were high and not enough money was included in the budget. A meeting is set up with Bill Owens and consultant on October 25th to discuss the financial statements and how they can be made more user friendly to the committee. Frank was pleased that Clemens identified three properties that need to be reclassified so that the Association doesn’t have to pay taxes on them. Franks stated that F&P will start planning once the Community Center is fixed which is the first priority.
Gilda Spiotta relayed two recommendations from the Appeals committee. One for board that is confidential and will be emailed to board. The second recommendation was to have Rules and Regulations review the schedule of fines since they feel some of them are too high. A question came up as to how many appeals are upheld and Spiotta will get back with that information at the next meeting.
John Palmisano gave highlights on the Maintenance committee. They were:
- Purchase tar buggy
- Reposition signage that is on left side of road. It is more visible on the right side of the road.
- All drainage pipes need to be identified and put on our map. We need a more accurate list of these pipes so that they can be drained and cleaned.
- Boat launches and dry hydrants need to be checked and maintained
- There needs to be regular checking of spillways and dams.
Mark Davis stated that Loretta Schneider was reelected as chair of the Real Estate committee and Cari Jacobs was reelected as secretary. Since there was a low turnout at the landlord meeting, they are thinking about cancelling the event. The discussed the challenges for short term rentals and the additional work for administrative staff when a landlord doesn’t give a 48 hour notice of registered renters. The committee is recommending raising the fee for not notifying the office. They will have further discussions and present more to the board. They are looking at tiering the fines that will penalize the habitual offenders. The goals and objectives are to improve process in the front office with rentals. Davis encouraged more people to join this committee and stated that it is not just for the landlords but for home owners also. There are less that 10% of homes in the Association that are rental properties.
Rules and Regulations did not have quorum so no meeting was held. Bob Leon, liaison stated that they are looking to be more specific when looking at grass. They are going to recommend changing the word “unruly” to “above 6 inches”.
Old business – the open workshop meeting time will now be held on the second Saturday of the month at 11:30 AM.
Under new business, Leon made the motion on Resolution # 1-92218 – 2018-2019 Write Off of Dead Accounts, Kavanagh seconded it and it passed unanimously. These accounts are sometimes referred to as “ghost accounts”. This occurs when delinquent accounts are not collectable due to the death of an owner, etc.
An Ad hoc committee on the History of ELA was passed unanimously. Historian Bill Henry has offered to help document our history as well as to pass off documentation that is in his possession.
Discussions on an ad hoc committee for association memberships was tabled till the next workshop.
John Palmisano asked if the Association would be held to the same standards as the membership in regards to the height of grass.
Bill Henry asked if anyone has ever been fined for fireworks. He was told yes and they paid the fine.
Linda Shuey welcomed the new members to the board and stated she was excited to see Darryl Gamble in the general manager’s spot. He brings honesty and integrity to the position. She also stated that using the lakes brings the cabomba to the surface.
Alex asked if there was a specific fish that we could introduce to our lakes that would eat the cabomba but was told that nothing eats this weed.
Mark Davis likes the retention of employees but questioned whether the vacation schedule was overly generous. Several members said that was the case or better where they worked.
Mary Kavanagh stated that she lives by a rental house and when the renters leave there is always garbage left behind and a bear just dumped the garbage. She also stated that it might be worth it to have fund raisers.
Cookie Litwienski asked when the stop signs will be fixed. Someone turned a number of these signs. She was told that they are being changes at this time.
George Hesser Asked if there were regulations on the number of people that can occupy a rental home. He was told 2 per bedroom plus 2.
Kathy Whelan reiterated what Linda Shuey stated and said it was refreshing to see honesty and integrity in our staff.
Louise Leon requested that the trees be trimmed around stop signs so that they are visible to drivers.
Bev Miller asked if the garbage can at the main entrance mailbox can be moved since it interferes with access to her mail box. In addition light bulbs need to be replaced in that area.
Kavanagh made the motion to adjourn. Seconded by Claude.
Adjournment at 12:22 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.