Monthly Archives: March 2023

Emerald Lakes Board of Directors Open Meeting, March 25, 2023

By Kathy Leslie-Whelan

          The meeting was called to order at 9:35 AM.  All board members were present.  General Manager Darryl Gamble was also present.  Assistant General Manager, Nicole Clemens was absent due to a family emergency.  In addition, the meeting was not able to be recorded due to technical difficulties.  After the pledge of allegiance, Buz Whelan, President called for a motion to approve February’s open board meeting minutes. It passed unanimously.   Whelan stated that he was holding his comments till the Director’s Comments section of the meeting and turned the floor over to the Treasurer.

Dave Borsos gave the Treasurer’s report for February.  Currently we are $148K over budget on collection of dues.  Dues collected for February  were $305K and Year to Date (YTD) $1.6M;  Rental income is $649K YTD;  Code Enforcement Officer revenue is $150K which is $6K under budget;  Access card income is $123K;  Bar and Grill income for February was $6.4K and $47K YTD; under income two areas have a negative variance of $270 for Boat/Fishing Permits and $68 dollars for Newsletter Ads; Resale fees are at $19K YTD;  Income totals YTD are $2.7M;  Total expenses are $2.3M YTD;  Administration is $528 YTD which has a negative variance of $63K; Public Safety is  $136 YTD with a positive variance of $29K due to being short staffed; Maintenance is $1,057,732 with a negative variance of $102K due to vehicle and equipment purchases; Community Center/Recreation is $391K YTD with a negative variance of $12K; Insurance has a negative variance of $13K and utilities has a negative variance of $3K, which is due to rising costs; Cash Assets are $674 YTD; Reserve Fund, short term is $784K; Long term reserve investment account is $129K.  A motion was made by Connie Simpson to accept the Treasurer’s report.  It was seconded by Bob Leon and passed unanimously.

Under Old Business

  • Whelan called for a motion to approve the preliminary budget.  The motion was made by Bill Baehr and seconded by Bob Leon.  It passed unanimously. 
  • Whelan stated that the Administration office was being deluged with phone calls about the dues increase.  Whelan stated that there will be no increase in the upcoming fiscal year.  In the 2024/2025 budget quarterly payments will be $310. And full payment will be $1,240.  The increase will be every other year for the next 10 years.

Under New Business:

  • Fees will be increased for Amenity passes and boat permits.  All increases will be $5 per pass/permit. 
  • Pine Tree Island will have a study completed this season. Water will be tested in various places to determine if the beach should be moved.  Currently the beach is in an inlet and has become a collection point for bacteria.   Testing will also be done at the feeder and ephemeral streams.  An independent lab will perform the testing.
  • Lake maintenance includes a beaver and geese plan.  This plan is through the state and includes gathering up and relocating the animals.  In addition, weed and lily pads will be treated.

Committee Reports    

Connie Simpson reported on the Rules and Regulations meeting.  She called for a resolution to allow 2 yard/garage sales per year, up to three days and must be permitted by Emerald Lakes Association and the Township.  Mike Camino made the motion and it was seconded by Connie Simpson.  It passed unanimously.  In addition, the committee discussed the $500 fine for sharing IDs cards with a delinquent member.  A member inquired if we could open up water aerobics to outside people.  She was told that we cannot sell memberships since this is a non-profit association.  The Association would be in jeopardy of losing our tax status. 

Bill Baehr stated that 6 appeals were scheduled; however, one individual did not show up for his appeal.

Bob Leon reported on the Real Estate committee that discussions were held on a get together meeting being scheduled in May.

Kathy Whelan spoke on behalf of Finance and Planning (F&P).   F&P had a special meeting to review and approve the preliminary budget before the board met for their evaluation.  The meeting was held on March 17th.  Ms. Whelan stated revenue and attendance for three events that occurred in February/March were $1,111 with 30 people in attendance for Karaoke, $705.75 with 21 in attendance for Trivia and $3,558 with 70 people in attendance for the Winter Luau.  Please note that the number of people in attendance does not include individuals that entered using an amenity pass.  In the future, front desk staff will scan a guest pass so that more accurate information on attendance can be obtained. The Operating Fund/Expense Report showed that $305K was the total dues and fees collected for the month of February and $1.6M YTD; Public Safety staff is currently at 1 full time and 5 part time members;   Rental income is at $92K for the month of February with YTD income at $649K.; Code Enforcement fees were $142K YTD with a negative variance of $3.3K;  Bar and Grill income for the month of February were $6,427 while costs were $1,434 for the bar and $1.632 for the grill.  The next budget will have a finer breakdown of categories for the bar and grill such as office supplies, equipment, food, liquor, staffing etc;  Resale certificates is $1,400 for the month of February which represents 9 homes being sold; Total income has a positive variance of $217K YTD with total income at $2.7M YTD; Refuse collection was $201K YTD which represents a minimal negative variance of $1.5K; total expenses are $2.3M YTD; $784K is in reserves; collections reported for February are $150.6K, where in house collections were $146.2K which represents 97% of collections;  YTD collections are $1,047,141; interest on investments is $166.54.  The next scheduled meeting of F&P will be held on Friday, April 21st at the Administration building.

Director’s Comments

          Bob Leon stated that there are 22 homes for sale in Emerald Lakes.  They are:

  1.          $299,800 listed for 1 day at 1095 Clover Rd
  2.          $440,000 listed for 1 day at 1117 Sioux
  3.          $949,000 listed for 1 day  at 161 Beaver Dam (Lake front)
  4.          $224.250 listed for 7 days  at 3114 Red Fox
  5.          $559,000 listed for 10 days at 1674 Glade
  6.          $405,000 listed for 20 days  at 2441 Grey Birch
  7.          $226,000 listed for 32 days at 1245 Glade
  8.          $535,000 listed for 38 days at 2133 Wild Laurel
  9.          $399,800 listed for 38 days at 2437 Grey Birch
  10. $357,900 listed for 43 days at 310 Cedar
  11. $424,900 listed for 46 days at 152 Granite
  12. $420,000 listed for 50 days at 1272 Glade
  13. $439,900 listed for 165 days at 1616 Glade
  14. $399,800 listed for 77 days at 795 Clearview
  15. $375,000 listed for 103 days at 185 Granite
  16. $424,900 listed for 104 days at 1432 Clover
  17. $359,999 listed for 128 days at 1529 Clover
  18. $489,900 listed for 142 days at 1258 Clover
  19. $399,000 listed for 157 days at 2209 Doe
  20. $300,000 listed for 192 days at 116 Yellow Birch
  21. $589,000 listed for 210 days at 222 Arbor Doe
  22. $349,900 listed for 252 days at 227 Hornbeam

Dave Borsos gave a shout out to the ways things were done with the board on the preliminary budget review.  The board hashed out the details and there was give and take where compromises were reached.

Bill Baehr stated that the last 3 events bought in more people to the Lodge.  It is great to see the bar and grill doing well.  He enjoys Trivia night which is a lot of fun.

Connie Simpson thanked Nicole Clemens and Darryl Gamble for last month’s resolution and requested that it be put on the website home pages until the new copies of the Rules and Regulations Manual was printed.

     Michael Camino thanked everyone for their hard work.

     Buz Whelan wanted to address the pot holes.  Since we live above the freeze/thaw line there are always going to be pot holes.  The water seeps underground, freezes and expands and creates pot holes. Last year more than 1,500 pots holes were filed.  He is asking for the member’s patience and deputizing everyone to report pot holes that are 12 inches across to the office.  Whelan further stated that he hears a complaint that calls are not being returned.  There will be a new menu on the phone system.  If you select option #6, your message will get to the board or appropriate party.  Office staff will check the message first thing in the morning and send out the message.  It will take approximately 10 days for this system to go into effect.

     Chris Claude stated that CEO violations are not a quota.  The money is put in the budget based on previous year numbers.  In addition in 2018 there was a $245K negative balance in reserves.  The board paid off this debt and work to increase reserve funds.  Now there is $914K in reserves (this includes the reserves and investment accounts).  

Public Comments

          Linda Shuey stated that communications with the board should be on the official ELA page and address whatever resolution was determined.  She wants a record of her correspondence.  She thanked Gamble for cutting down the branches that were hanging over the road but inquired as to when they will be collected.  Gamble responded that the detritus will be collected soon.

          A woman in the audience had a question/concern about public safety’s schedule.  A man came to her door selling solar panels on February 22nd.  He parked outside for hours and had no identification on him when Regional police approached him.  She was told that Public Safety’s schedule is not released and that it changes.  It is kept secret so that anyone planning on committing a crime will not pick a time when no one is on duty.  If she has an issue she should call our dispatch office at (570) 643-3385.  She also complimented our Operation Manager at Maintenance, Bob Bulin.  He is doing a wonderful job.

          Mark Weiss stated that he sent over an article from a Mount Pocono Newsletter where it addresses a need for an emergency fund.  In addition, he and his wife are enjoying the pool and the Lodge.  The building is sharp as a tack and the showers work.  He loved the sign at the indoor pool where it prohibits radios and music unless the individual is wearing headphones.  He once had to leave the outdoor pool since someone was playing offensive music out loud.

          Hilary Decker thanked staff for addressing the pot holes on Ash Drive.

Ange Noonan stated that when you leave a message on the phone at Administration, you may not get a return call immediately, but they will get back to you.  She also stated that the ELA Ladies are having an exercise class at the Lodge on Sunday at 2:00 PM.  All are welcome including men.  Noonan also stated that the Recreation Club is doing a good job.

          Another woman in the audience asked what as soon as possible meant for fixing the pot holes.  She lives on Huckleberry and the pot holes are bad.  She was told that once the plant opens up next month, we should be able to get material for the roads.  They are aware of the issues on Huckleberry and that road may need large rolled section work done.

          Scott Thompson stated that a neighbor, living here for 26 years, received a bill for .68 cents.  That is ridiculous.  He was told that the computer automatically generates those bills.  In addition he called dispatch and no one responded.  There were two cars parked on the roads right across from each other that were blocking car traffic.   Thompson also stated that a neighbor was operating a barber shop out of his home.  He reported it before but nothing was done.  He was told that we need proof that he is operating a state licensed business. They were told that they would have to send someone undercover to get the service as proof that they have a business on site.  Chris Claude stated that maybe we need to look into another dispatch service and told the story of one of our maintenance staff be threaten by a man with a gun about snow from the plow blocking his driveway. 

Four (4) new members were welcomed to the Community.

          A motion was made by Dave Borsos to adjourn.  It was seconded by Bob Leon.  Meeting adjourned at 11:08 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.

Emerald Lakes Special Meeting, March 18, 2023

By Kathy Leslie-Whelan

          The meeting was called to order at 11:00 AM.  Six board members were present.  Chris Claude was absent.  General Manager Darryl Gamble and Assistant General Manager, Nicole Clemens were also present.  After the pledge of allegiance, Buz Whelan, President introduced the people present at the front table.  They were Ann Weaver and Ed Anderson from our accounting firm; Nick Haros who is our counsel from our hired Law firm; Dr Dave Borsos, Treasurer; Dan Glasgow, former President of Association; Darryl Gamble General Manager; also introduced was Assistant General Manager, Nicole Clemens.  Other introductions included the board members sitting at a side table.  They were Michael Camino, Bob Leon, Bill Baehr (Secretary and Judge of Elections) and Connie Simpson.

          The accountants passed on addressing the audience.  Nick Haros thanked everyone for coming in and said that he represents many HOAs.  Of those HOAs whose membership controls the assessments (dues), virtually all are underfunded.  He requested that since this was a business meeting everyone should conduct themselves accordingly.

          Buz Whelan stated that he has been involved in ELA operations for 18 years.  He was first elected to the board 16 years ago, in 2007.  He has one more year on the board and doesn’t plan on running again. He said that this is not an “us vs. you” situation.  We are all in this together. Should you decide to vote yes for the increase it goes to the Association and not the board.  The increase is needed because of inflation.  All petroleum based products have increased.  Items such as asphalt, tar and fuel cost more.  Whelan also said that it has been 3 years that the General Manager and Assistant General Manager have had a raise.     The board is trying to spend our funds wisely.  Whelan always said we were existing on reduced services and deferred maintenance.  If an increase is not received services will need to be cut back.  The board is trying to maintain the same level of services and keep Emerald Lakes as a premiere community.  By being a premiere community we can maintain the quality of life, keep home values up and maintain a safe community.  The increases would occur over a 10 year period and would amount to $40 every other year.  This increase will amount to $10 per quarter.  Whelan said the membership said that when you hit us over the head with a $200 a year increase it is hard to work it into the budget.  The membership requested smaller increases over a longer period of time.  The board listened. 

Dave Borsos, Treasurer, stated that he has been on the board for 6 years with the last two years as Treasurer.  The dues increase is needed and he feels it is well balanced and well organized.  He did the math and the increase would amount to .76 cents a day.  In the past he remembers when a painting contract had to be canceled because a new vehicle was needed.  Borsos also did a comparison from January of last year to this year.  The results were that last year costs for utilities were $9,700 and this year costs are $12,242.  The cost for insurance was $6,527 last year and this year costs are at $11,653.  The cost for Public Safety was $8,020 last year and this year costs are $15,000.  The costs for the compactor were $18,331 for the month of January last year and $26,736 for January this year. 

Dan Glasgow, former board President stated that he served on the board for 4 years with two of those years as President.  He remembers stating to Whelan as he shook his wallet at him that this is the only control that we have over the board.  He voted against the dues increase and was told that if he feels that strongly about it, he should run for the board.  He ran and he won.  Once on the board he saw the conditions of our finances and realized that there were not enough funds.  On the board you rely on a group of experts for advice.  You plan your actions on this advice.  Glasgow also stated that this is the most transparent board.  All meetings are recorded and streamed.  Also, notes are taken and posted on the website for people that don’t have time to watch the whole meeting.

General Manager Darryl Gamble thanked everyone for coming out.  A dues increase always brings out a crowd.  He works within the budget and makes the money match with what we are doing.  He hopes that people will see that things are getting done.  The financials are available at the office and any staff member can answer any questions from the membership. This year we spent a little less than $680K on the roads.  The tar and chip work done was disappointing and those roads done in that fashion are on the top of the list to be done this spring.  This year a new Kipcon report will be completed to evaluate our facilities.  When he took over many of our structures were past their life expectancy.  Gamble does not go on FaceBook, but information does trickle down to him. And he is aware of complaints. 

Question/Comments from Floor

  • George Hesser stated that he hopes the increase goes through.  He would like to see more pot holes addressed.
  • Tim Jones stated that you expect me to vote on an increase when work should have been done last year.
  • Scott Thompson stated that he read about fiscal responsibility on FaceBook.  The Community Center reopened on June 30, 2015.  What happened to the new tables and chairs, flooring and exercise equipment?  After being closed for 2 years there was another reopening on July 22, 2022.  Why was the floor ripped up?  Why was the front office at the Administration remodeled?  Mr. Thompson wanted to call for a motion to table the dues increase.  Whelan told him the motion is out of order and that according to Act 180 since a call to meeting was sent out with an agenda, a motion cannot be made.  It is not fair to the membership who may have decided to attend to vote on the motion.  It also would be unfair to the 159 mail in voters.  He was told that work had to be done at the Community Center to bring it up to code.  The wiring, carpentry and plumbing was substandard. 
  • Mark Weiss stated that he bought his home here in 2018.  At that time the two pools were closed and the Community Center was trashed.  He wanted to go on record thanking the board and staff and that he is proud of the community. He voted yes for the increase via proxy mail.
  • Annette said that she is upset with the AirBNB homes.  She feels that they are making a lot of money and should pay more in dues.  She stated that a renter drove into her driveway and took out her garage door. She was told that on top of the annual dues, they pay the Association to rent out their homes.  They also pay for Associate member passes to use the amenities. She also requested that Buz not to be disrespectful on FaceBook.  He should shut his mouth if he can’t say anything nice.
  • Calvin stated that he was the youngest homeowner in the room, He has been in ELA for 13 years and he feels money is not being spent wisely.  Money is being spent on the wrong things.  If we have a building or a septic system in distress, it should have been fixed already.  He was told that the Administration building is more than 40 years past its life span.  The wiring is not up to code and is unsafe. 
  • Adam stated that if you have a problem, you should run for the board.  If you have a problem, you should talk to management or the board not on FaceBook.  He stated that the board and management are doing a great job and he thanked them.
  • Carmen asked about the dam that was in a dire position years ago.  What will happen if the dam breaks?  She was told that the Management Company that ran the Association put us in a hole in 2018.  They drained the reserve fund and didn’t put the required money in reserves.  This current board paid back all money that should have been in the reserves and built the dollar amount up to $677K.  Our dam was inspected in 2021 and it is okay.  The reserve fund will help to pay for any issues with the dam.  The dams are inspected by the state on a yearly basis.
  • Marty Nicoll stated that he voted for the dues increase.  He stated that it was a modest increase.
  • Jose Mateo stated that in 1997 this was a vacation community.  He stated that if everyone paid their dues we wouldn’t need an increase.  He is also afraid of all the rentals.  He was told that the Association aggressively pursues delinquent accounts.  Many of these accounts are taken to court where we have never lost a case.  Our collection rate went from 45%/50% to 74% in a five year period.  Delinquent accounts were stopped from buying passes to the compactor.  An amenity program was offered to these accounts with settlements being offered.  If the member still did not pay their dues their account was turned over to our attorney.
  • Zack who is a new resident asked for an explanation of the capital reserve fund.  He was told that 25% of dues go into this fund.
  • Alex thanked Nicole Clemens, Darryl Gamble and Chris Claude for fixing the Community Center.

Polls opened for voting.  

 Bill Baehr, Judge of Elections, asked for the three volunteers who would witness the counting to accompany him into another room. The results are as follows:

132 Yes

93 No

Dues increase has passed.

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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