Emerald Lakes Board of Directors Open Meeting, June 22, 2019
by Kathy Leslie-Whelan
The meeting was called to order at 9:32 AM. Six board members were present. Al Leslie was absent for personal reasons. Following the pledge of allegiance, Buz Whelan turned the floor over to our outside Auditor, Bill Owens, who addressed the room on Proxy voting which will be voted on at the annual meeting on August 17th at Pocono Mountain West High School. The presentation was live-streamed and will be available to the membership for viewing until the August meeting. This will eliminate the need for the presentation to take place at the annual meeting. Owens has over 15 years of experience handling proxy voting with other communities in the Poconos. Owens firm now handles proxy voting for approximately 50 communities a year. Currently Emerald Lakes votes by paper ballot on the day of the election. A proxy system would allow a member in good standing to vote by appointing someone to vote for that member at the meeting. Owens explained three types of proxy voting. (The vote at ELA will be for Directed Proxy voting.) The three types are:
- Directed Proxy votes cannot be manipulated. Members will be able to mail in their ballots to an independent 3rd party. Ballots will be turned over at the meeting to an appointed individual who will cast the ballots for the member. This individual could be the board, the Association Auditor, Secretary, the Judge of Elections or any board designated member. All these votes cast can be revoked by the member who cast the ballot at the open meeting if that individual wishes to change his vote.
- Undirected proxy votes give a member’s right away to another member where that individual can cast your vote the way they want.
- Absentee ballots are done on a mail in basis and cannot be changed at the meeting by the individual that cast the vote.
The process for the proposed system is that proxies will be mailed to all members of the Association. The proxy would be completed by the member and mailed to an independent third party. These proxies must be received by the 3rd party prior to a predetermined date. The independent third party would determine if the proxies received are from a member in good standing based on accounts receivable records at the predetermined date. The independent third party would count the votes received by the members in good standing and will bring the ballots to the open meeting and turn them over to the individual who was appointed to cast the proxy ballots. It was emphasized that the individual designated to cast the direct proxy ballots may not alter the ballots in any way. In addition, the independent third party would also send a listing of the members that voted to the administration office (without voting information) to ensure that no member that submitted a ballot to the independent third party will receive another ballot if they attend the open meeting. A member can revoke their proxy at any time prior to the start of the meeting.
Questions from the membership:
Cookie Litwienski asked about the people that run from the floor. Owens stated that they cannot change any ballot so they will be submitted as received. If a member wants to revoke their ballot that they submitted they will be issued new ballots at the open meeting so they can vote in person. Whelan stated that write-in candidates do not have to attend “Meet the Candidates” which is a very stressful but important process. In addition, their 5-minute candidate speech goes unchallenged. It is justified and fair that those candidates have a slight disadvantage.
John Palmisano asked if any of the communities that Owens handles proxy voting for utilize internet voting, and why are we not using. Owens stated that his firm only handles one community that utilizes this type of voting. In this case, an information packet is sent out to only members in good standing. A pin code is included in these packets only allowing the member to vote once. A small issue is that not all members have computers so the Association will have to supply a voting station at the Administration office for people to vote.
Bill Henry asked what percentage of the other communities have used proxy voting. Owens stated that there are always ballots cast under proxy voting. If we get 1/3 of the members in good standing voting, it is a good result.
Linda Shuey thanked the board and Mr. Owens for addressing the concerns that the membership had. She cautioned the board on the bylaw changes that would be required and asked how the voting would effect quorum. Owens stated the proxy votes would count towards quorum.
Under the President’s message, Whelan stated that of the three methods presented by Owens, the membership will be voting on “Directed Proxy”. He further stated that after reading the bylaws carefully, all voting on issues will be done at the onset. The cut off time for getting in line for registration is 11:00 AM where the meeting will be called to order at approximately 11:10 AM. The first item of business will be proxy voting. He also stated that it is an open secret that people fill out that ballots and hand them over to a trusted friend to cast. He wants to find a way to make that legitimate.
Whelan also announced a special event coming up. Bill Henry, who is our historian, will be leaving ELA. Bill served on most committees as well as served on the board. Bill is an integral part of the community since buying his first piece of property in 1968. On Sunday, August 25th, between 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM a roast will be held in his honor at the Community Center. It will be a covered dish event or a $5.00 fee which will go into a gift for Bill. Whelan will be roasting. Henry was present at the meeting and stated that the smartest thing that he did was buying his first property. The second was buying the property next to his home and building another home in 1982. He has enjoyed ELA for 50 years.
Whelan further stated that karaoke will now take place on the second Saturday of the month instead of Friday. A greater number of people will be served by this change. Bingo will continue on Saturdays.
Under the Treasurer’s report, Steve Kavanagh stated that since only a condensed June report is available due to the preparation of the annual audit he will highlight some significant numbers. For our current fiscal year dues collected so far this year total $247,998. 818 members availed themselves to quarterly payments. $111,445 has been collected from delinquent accounts. Breakdown for delinquent accounts is $57,926 for in-house, $7,855 under special payment plan, $38,284 under attorney collections and $7,378 for Sunrise collections. Expenses for the bar and grill totaled $2,179 while revenue totaled $2,645. Money above expenses totaled $466. $2,009 was spent to stock the snack shack. For the two days of May the shack was open it sold $261 of merchandise. Bob Leon made the motion to accept the treasurer’s report. Chris Claude seconded it. It was approved unanimously.
Whelan called for a motion to accept May’s board minutes Leon made the motion which was seconded by Kavanagh. Passed unanimously.
Under Old Business GM Darryl Gamble reported:
- The outdoor pool is up and running and only a few cosmetic items have to be attended to. The water softener was installed. In addition, Strand pool has set up the equipment for the solar cover. A line item was added for the snack shack to track expenditures. All food items that do not sell will be transferred to the Community Center for sale instead of left to spoil. Soft serve ice cream is now available in chocolate, vanilla or a choc/vanilla twist. A total cost on all work on the pool will be available when all the invoices are received.
- Indoor pool is on schedule. A contract with ServPro is being renegotiated. Some items are being removed and some added. Strand pool is ready to start the work on the pool and the roofers will be completing the rubber roof at the Community Center.
- The dirt road at Gap View road was completed. Clearview will be done in house.
- Beaches were cleaned up. Eric Bergstrom is currently helping with installing the buoys.
- New equipment as been received for the tennis courts and basketball courts. These facilities will be secured at night and will be opened in the morning.
- Sign parts have been ordered.
- The first round of speed bumps have been installed. More are being ordered.
- Grass on the side of the road is being cut manually. Gamble is working with Kubota on correcting the equipment that we currently own.
- The new truck that replaced big red is on site, registered and insured.
- We are waiting for the new badging system and web site from the contractor.
- Annual audit is underway.
Whelan congratulated the General Manager on the work at the outdoor pool.
Under New Business:
- Annual meeting preparations are underway. The meeting will be held on August 17th at the local high school. The “Call to Meeting” must be in the memberships’ hands by July 18th so they hope to have the mailing completed by July 10th. Whelan stated that we owe a debt of gratitude to Cookie Litwienski for organizing the nominating/election committee. Anyone who has the time and would like to help her please contact Whelan, Nicole Clemens or Cookie Litwienski. A picture ID will be required to vote. Nomination/Election committee chairperson, Cookie Litwienski suggested scheduling “Meet the Candidates” for Saturday August 3rd at the Community Center between the hours of 9:30 AM and 12:00 noon. One or more of the declared candidates may not be able to attend that date so August 10th has been suggested as an alternative date. This meeting will be live streamed.
Ange Noonan stated that she has had an exciting and rewarding year on the board and announced that she will be rerunning in August. She thanked everyone for their support throughout the year.
Bob Leon also announced that he will be rerunning for the board. He stated that we are reverting back to the way we were with the 2 pools, new compactors, new truck and equipment.
Chris Claude stated that he wanted to do a fund raiser for a young man in ELA who is currently battling cancer. Any ideas would be appreciated.
Whelan thanked Claude for all the work he has done for the Association. Claude does a lot of work behind the scenes. Whelan also stated that events being held have been successful and are drawing larger crowds. He feels the community is coming together. He urged people to come out to events and the Community Center. He has found the membership warm and welcoming and fun to be around.
Steve Kavanagh announced that on the night of the annual meeting (August 17th), he and his wife will be hosting a ’50s music party. Come out to dance and have a good time. He also stated that the Polk Firehouse is having a benefit today for the ELA young man that is battling cancer.
Dave Borsos acknowledged the fishing club that put on the fishing rodeo derby. He stated that we had great volunteers and had a record breaking 45 kids participating. He thanked the Association for supplying ice cream, Wal-Mart for supplying food and Pocono Boat House for supplying bait. (Please note that Dave and his wife Cathy donated many of the toys that the children won for the various prize categories.)
Borsos also stated that he is in favor of getting in and out of the annual meeting but at the same time it is a good time for us all to come together and be informed citizens. It would be worth staying for the meeting. Borsos also asked if there was a cost for Owens to do the proxy voting. Gamble stated it will be at their hourly rate and the work will be completed in certain blocks of time so it would be easy to keep track of that time.
Ken Shuey of the Maintenance committee stated that they met this past Thursday but had no recommendation. They submitted questions for Gamble and are trying to be effective on identifying ways to save money. He also requested that co-chairs be reassigned to the committees.
Cookie Litwienski of the Nomination/Election committee asked if she could hold meeting at her house since many of the items they discuss are confidential. The board had no problem with this.
Linda Shuey spoke as a member of Rules and Regulation. She requested that notification to the membership go out of all changes recommended and accepted by the board. She stated that maybe something can be sent out in the “Call to Meeting” so that everyone is aware of the changes. Shuey also thanked for the donations received from the outside vendors for the fishing rodeo. She also had a shout out to Bonide Co for supplying the ELWAY club with 4 gallons of Repels All, valued at $225. for the milkweed at the butterfly garden. This donation was based on a letter that Ms. Shuey sent out to this manufacturer.
Ken Shuey asked a question pertaining to membership passes. All members are issued 10 passes but renters can have an unlimited number of passes that they pay for. Can the membership pay for additional passes if they need them? The response was yes, members can purchase more passes.
Mary Kavanagh stated that she felt it was great that the board was moving forward with proxy voting. She requested that email blasts go out for karaoke which she and her husband do on a voluntary basis. She stated that Latin night was a success and she hopes people will come out for the ’50s music night. Kavanagh also inquired if anything can be done about a vacant house across the street from her that has grass that is very high.
Bill Baehr stated that karaoke and bingo is fun. He has met so many new friends. The community is beautiful and when he walks around he is proud to be here. Baehr took the time to announce that he will be running for the board in August.
Four new members were welcomed to the Community.
Leon made a motion to adjourn. It was seconded by Kavanagh. Meeting adjourned at 11:26 AM.
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.