Emerald Lakes Board of Directors Annual Meeting, August 20, 2022
by Kathy Leslie-Whelan
The meeting was called to order at 11:00 AM. All board members were present as confirmed by the roll call of the board conducted by Buz Whelan, President. Whelan also introduced General Manager Darryl Gamble, Assistant General Manager Nicole Clemens, Greg Malaska from the law firm of Young and Haros and Ed Anderson from the accounting firm of William Owens and Co. Whelan announced that the meeting was being live streamed and will be in accordance with Robert Rules of Order except where our by-laws govern. Whelan asked for confirmation of quorum from the Judge of Elections, Steve Kavanagh. Kavanagh confirmed quorum that well over 100 ballots were received by proxy voting. Finally Kavanagh called for anyone that was running from the floor to come forward. No one came forward.
Whelan started his President’s message by stating that his message and the general manager’s message were included in the special edition of the Emerald Lakes Newsletter. He stated that a lot has been accomplished during the last 4 years that this board and management team have been together. Some main highlights are the installation of a new and customized industrial strength dehumidification system for the indoor pool; new duct work, mold remediation, apron resurfacing, reconditioning, sandblasting and repainting of indoor pool; rebuilding the inner structure including the ceiling and support beams of the indoor pool; installation of under water, color changing lights in the indoor pool; pine needle trees were removed, landscaping including the grinding of stumps was completed at the outdoor pool to protect the filter system. The community center which was built in 73/74 was completely renovated. Everything was either replaced or upgraded. Two by-law changes were passed, one allowing the membership to vote by proxy voting and one that allowed for quarterly payments.
Whelan stated that in the coming years the board wants to attack the problem at Pine Tree Lake. They are working together to try to devise a solution to address the beach closures. Currently Chris Claude is heading up a team to develop a septic policy that will be applicable to all member septic systems. In addition there are currently two fun projects that are being implemented. They include a kayak rental program where the fees for the rentals will pay for the program and a lake toy that will be deployed off of Main Beach. The toy will be a blow-up floating raft that has a slide for individuals to slide into the lake.
Whelan explained the three by-law revisions that the membership was being asked to vote for. The first change is to adjust the procedures for membership review of the preliminary budget. It is state law that an approved budget needs to be in place by May 1st, the beginning of the fiscal year. This change will made the preliminary budget available for review and comment for 30 days to honor the spirit of the by-law. The new change will correct this bylaw. The second change will address that the polls for the voting period at the annual open meeting be adjusted to state that polls will be opened for 30 minutes or until all votes have been cast. Currently, it stated that the polls shall be open for 30 minutes but since direct proxy voting has been implemented that time is no longer needed. Last year after all votes were cast, there was a 25 minute waiting period that occurred before the ballots could be counted. The third change is to return to the simple majority vote for a by-law change (50% plus 1). Currently, 2/3 votes are needed to pass a by-law change. That means that a no vote counts twice as much as a yes vote. Our current way of voting gives an unequal weight to a no vote.
The floor was opened for comments. Joe Olall of White Tail Lane stated that our nation works on a 2/3 votes when it comes to the Constitution. Why do we need a simple majority? Whelan stated that the Constitution of The United States is the supreme law of the land. Emerald Lakes by-laws are procedures for our Association.
Polls opened for the by-law ballots.
Whelan addressed a housekeeping issue. He asked the board members if they had a chance to read the minutes from last year’s annual meeting. They responded in the affirmative. Bob Leon made the motion to accept the minutes. It was seconded by Steve Kavanagh. It passed unanimously.
Two volunteers of the Year were recognized at this Annual meeting. They were Pat Bergstrom and Cathy Borsos. These are two strong women who work hard with their husbands on projects and events in the Community. They include the butterfly garden, renovations at the front entrance and the fishing rodeo.
Candidate speeches followed next. The floor was turned over to Bill Baehr who stated that he has been living in Emerald Lakes for three and a half years and loves it here. He has served on the board for the last three years and has seen vast improvements over the years. During Baehr’s tenure on the board there have been many accomplishments. The two pools are opened and fully functional, roadways have improved. Bath houses have been remodeled, maintenance has done a tremendous job, tennis and basketball courts are up and running, the main entrance is getting a facelift, the butterfly garden was installed. The biggest accomplishment is the renovations at the Community Center. Baehr stated that the Community Center was like a phoenix rising from the ashes. Baehr stated that there is more to be done and over the last three years he has learned much where he can serve the Association better. He is proud to be a board member and hopes that he can continue with his service.
Michael Camino stated that he bought his property 3 ½ years ago. He moved his family here from Delaware. He wants to bring the same enthusiasm to the board as he does in his business. He feels he is younger and can bring technology expertise and progress to the board. Camino wants to see Pine Tree beach opened and he feels that he can be the voice of the people and bridge the gap between the board and the people.
Connie Simpson wants to bring a female view to the board. She stated that Emerald Lakes is a great place to live and that she only owns 1 house. She wants to work with the board on future projects, try to get pot holes filled earlier, make sure that all roads are paved, and make sure that everyone’s septic system is checked out so that we can have clean drinking water. She is happy that more security has been hired but we need to have an attendant at the lakes to check badges. She would be pleased to work with the board and is asking for votes.
Guest speaker, Greg Malaska from Young and Haros stated that Nick Haros was unable to attend. He had two daughters to move back to college this week. He stated that things were quiet this year with the Association. We currently have one active legal case that is being handled by another counsel. Hillary Decker of 3002 Huckleberry Rd called out what case. She was told that it was a breach of contract case. As a side note and as reported in earlier articles that I have written and posted here, the issue was with a contract we had with our last trash hauler. The contract that we had, had an automatic renewal each year with no method of termination. Our current contractor, Mascaro, assumed all legal responsibilities with the termination of that contract. In addition the Association has saved thousands of dollars since the new contract with Mascaro has been in place.
Ed Anderson was representing William Owens and Company. He stated that in his financial opinion our audit report for the fiscal year ending April 30, 2022 contains no material errors. Our operating cash is $1,409,051; members’ assessments collect in advance is $760K; $26.9K is in resale certificates; Rental fees are $578K; total revenues were $2.6M where total expenses were $2.1M; $324K went into road work and paving; $269K went into Community Center repair; $129K went into dam/bridge work; $465K is in reserves. Question from Buz Whelan of 254 Beaver Dam Rd was directed to the accountant. He asked in his opinion, where does he think our dues fit in with other HOA’s that are comparable to ours. Anderson said that our dues are low. When dues stay stagnant, associations may fall behind in major repairs. Costs go up and if you want to maintain your association and amenities and keep good staffing your expenses will go up. Member comments from a gentleman from the audience, “Where does rental money go? He was told that it goes into the operations fund. Ms. Skubish made a statement that since rental income is up, we should never ask for a dues increase. She was told that her reasoning was incorrect. Michael Camino stated that the rental program costs $2,800 on top of dues and that the landlords are taxed heavily.
Polls opened for financial ballots
Treasurer report from Dave Borsos stated that we are heading towards the best of times based on the numbers as of July 31st. Income exceeds expenses year to date. Income is at $826K while expenses are $736K. Rental income is $274K. Bar and Grill income was $8,400 while snack shack income was $2,700. Current cash assets are $1,334,292.16. Reserve fund is $659K. Bob Leon made the motion to accept the treasurer’s report. It was seconded by Steve Kavanagh. It passed unanimously.
Polls opened for Director ballots.
After ballots were cast the floor was opened up for questions and comments.
Pat DeVito stated that she has been on Emerald Lake Drive for a while and there is a lot of trash on the roads. Signs should be posted identifying fines. Can a camera be installed?
Response: It is expensive to install cameras especially since electricity is needed for recording. Our maintenance staff goes out often to pick up trash.
Ms. Skubish stated that since rentals have gone up so has trash in the roadways and lake. She has taken bottles out of the lake. She feels that this is a huge problem.
Ernie Biondolillo stated that he has been a resident since 1987 and loves this community. He lives in the Estates and he picks up trash or reports it when he sees it. His concern is a home that has 6 to 7 cars in the driveway that do not move, so they may not be registered.
Hillary Decker also has concerns over trash and is not in favor of her money going towards kayak/boat rentals. She stated that Pine Tree beach is polluted and wants to know how much money it will cost. She also inquired about who will unlock boats, how many keys, do we have lifeguards, who authorized this because she didn’t get to vote on it.
Response: She was told that many of the membership are in favor of this program and want to utilize the rental boats. The program should pay for itself. The boats are not only for rental properties but for the whole community. A new swimming area will be on Pine Tree Lake based on recommendations from Joe Gallagher, our hydrologist, and test results. She was also told that Pine Tree beach is not polluted with garbage. A committee with Randy Kopp, Eric Bergstrom and other members of the fishing club will be trying to identify what is causing the bacteria in the lake.
Carmen Brodnax asked that according to the by-laws, the board has to ask permission from the membership and needs approval to use money.
Response: Approval from the membership is required for borrowing of money.
One member inquired about a pickle ball court.
Response: We are currently looking to install a pickle ball court at the tennis courts at the Community Center. It will not be up and running this year but it is anticipated to be up and running next year.
Eric Bergstrom stated that he is the president of the fishing club and that Pine Tree Lake is not polluted. There are no dead fish floating around. The lake is stocked for the fishing rodeo and the bass are getting bigger. Turtles and frogs are also thriving.
Ms. Skubish feels that chemicals are not the way to go to control the weed issue on the lakes. Natural remedial options should be explored.
Scott Thompson inquired about the cost of insurance for the boat rental program and what were the plans for boat rescue.
Response: We do not have a cost on insurance at this time but the cost to add the dog park was a small dollar amount. As to boat rescue, all parties renting kayaks will be required to wear life vests.
Donna Jennings agreed that an organic method should be used for weed control on the lakes.
Randy Kopp has some of the same concerns as Hillary Decker. When he kayaks on Pine Tree lake he sometimes fills his hull with trash. Further outdoor activities may increase the trash.
Mary Kavanagh stated that she is on Finance and Planning and found out that our lakes are tested daily. We need 30 days of clear testing and if on the 30th day there is a high bacteria reading, the beach cannot open. The 30 day clock starts again. She stated that the board is trying to identify the problems. They need our support and not bitching. Give them a break.
Andrea Brown stated that there have been a lot of improvements but there is still a lot that needs to be done. She walks in the community and picks up trash. She feels the onus should be on the owners of the properties to pick up the trash. She wants to keep the community clean.
A question was asked about what we are doing about speeding on Glade Drive. Nobody stops at the stop sign. It is a hazard. It will cause accidents. Can we install speed bumps?
Response: Speed bumps cannot be installed at stop signs. Temporary speed bumps do not work and damage the roads.
How can we install sound barriers along the highway on Glade Drive?
Response: We cannot do it. Reach out to local or state representative. The state or federal commission has to install barriers.
Why do long/short term rental properties have to pay an associate member fee?
Response: The number one obligation of board is to the members. Rentals put an additional burden to the community. An owner, that rents their property, still has access and rights to use the amenities.
According to the Treasurer, income exceeds expenses. Why would we need a dues increase.
Response: We need to build up our reserve fund. Currently, it is under $600K, while engineering studies have recommended that it exceed $2M.
Results from By-law Revisions voting:
- Revision for procedures for membership review of the preliminary budget. (passed)
109 yes (80 mail in votes and 29 in person votes)
25 no (11 mail in votes and 14 in person votes)
- Adjustment of time for polls to be opened during the voting period. (passed)
122 yes (83 mail in votes and 39 in person votes)
12 no (8 mail in votes and 4 in person votes)
- Return to the simple minority rule for a by-law change. (failed)
69 yes (50 mail in votes and 19 in person votes)
64 no (40 mail in votes and 24 in person votes)
Financial Resolution # 1 (Passed)
Distribution of Surplus Operating Funds
Approvals make clear to IRS that the members of the Association authorize the Board to decide how to apportion any surplus.
121 Yes (80 mail in votes and 41 in person votes)
13 No (10 mail in votes and 3 in person votes)
Financial Resolution # 2 (Passed)
Apportionment of Annual Assessment
Approvals make clear to IRS that the members of the Association authorize the Board to decide how to split the assessment between the operating and capital budgets.
119 Yes (78 mail in votes and 41 in person votes)
12 No (9 mail in votes and 3 in person votes)
Director Seat Results
Bill Baehr – 94 votes (68 proxy votes and 26 in person votes)
Connie Simpson – 72 votes (45 proxy votes and 27 in person votes)
Michael Camino – 68 votes (50 proxy votes and 18 in person votes)
Bob Leon made a motion to adjourn. It was seconded by Steve Kavanagh.
Meeting Adjourned at 1:26 PM.
Immediately following the Annual Meeting adjournment, a reorganization meeting was held in executive session for the selection of board officers.
Buz Whelan – President
Chris Claude – Vice President
Dave Borsos – Treasurer
Steve Kavanagh – Secretary
Bill Baehr – Secretary in training
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.