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:
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.
Posted on March 20, 2023, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
Leave a comment