Author Archives: emeraldlakesfreepress
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.
by Kathy Leslie-Whelan
The meeting was called to order at 11.20 am. All board members were present.
Following the pledge of allegiance and a moment of silence for the passing of a former board member, June Solla, Diane Caldwell started her President’s message thanking the membership for coming and announced that the meeting was being live streamed and reminded the membership the meeting will be held in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order. She also reminded people that there was a 2 minute rule for the membership to comment. She announced that there were 3 seats up for election for 3 year terms. Caldwell called for a motion to approved last year minutes. Pat Galderisi made the motion which was seconded by Dan Glasgow. Minutes passed.
Caldwell went on to her President’s message by stating the past 2 years have been challenging. We have been deferring maintenance and the infrastructure is crumbling. The outdoor pool needs more work. The indoor pool was held up with a legal situation but 2 checks were received for repair. $101K plus $28K. Caldwell requested that a new engineer from Falcon be put on the bid for the dehumidification system at the indoor pool. The new board will have to choose a vendor.
Road maintenance will commence in 10 days and they hope to have unpaved roads done before winter with the delinquent dues collections. Caldwell also stated that this board put many procedures in place. There is a new banking system where we now scan checks vs. going to the bank. She stated that it has been a rough year but they were able to keep their heads above water. There has been aggressive in house collections where it did not cost the membership anything. $460K has been collected in delinquent accounts. The board developed a special payment program and installed a new POS system. She thanked her fellow board members for their hard work, diligence and support. She thanked all for her opportunity to serve. She stated that this board did what they felt was correct.
Caldwell stated that the board can’t wear multiple hats and her rule of thumb is if you say it, you can forget it, if you write it you will regret it. She quoted Michele Obama with “When they go low, we go high” and Aretha Franklin who was active in civil and women’s rights and she admires the song “Respect”. She ended her message stating to “vote wisely”.
Caldwell opened the floor for questions on the proxy voting since the attorney had to leave at 12:30. No one had questions
Edward Anderson from our outside auditor’s office got up and stated that our audit report was an unqualified opinion. Our financial statements were correct and he did not see anything to worry about.
The floor was open for comments.
Lynn O’Neil stated that she did not see a line item from rentals. She wanted to know where expenses were captured. She was told that those expenses were lumped into payroll.
Karen Hubbert questioned our investments and wanted more information on who our investments were with, she requested to see bank statements. She questioned $50K for life guards while there were no life guards. She was told by Laura Jones that the outdoor pool was heated but she stated that it was colder than the Atlantic Ocean. She made a motion to dismiss the HOA and get rid of board. She was told she was out of order and was escorted out of the auditorium.
Bill Rich questioned what was being done for delinquent collections from builders. He was told that they are treated like everyone else and are part of the collection efforts. Stephanie Johnson stated that anyone in arrears is considered not up to date and will not be allowed to vote.
Our attorney Bill Haros stated that creditors cannot talk about specific delinquent accounts so they could not confirm or deny any debt.
Gilda Spiotta presented the volunteer of the year award to Don Atkis who was instrumental in bring us our butterfly garden while Dave Borsos presented Eric Bergstrom with a lifetime achievement award for his dedication and participation with the fish and conservation group with the restocking of fish in our lakes and running the fishing rodeo.
Voting was opened for proxy voting and the two financial resolutions. A member complained that associate members were voting when they were not allowed. Caldwell stated they will investigate.
Candidates were allowed to give their 5 minute speeches. Four candidates were registered to vote and three candidates ran from the floor.
Elections 10 ballots disqualified
Chris Claude – 64
Steve Kavanagh – 60
Buz Whelan – 53
Ange Noonan – 42
Al Leslie – 28
Jenn Gonzales – 27
Diane Caldwell – 19
All resolutions which required a 2/3 vote failed:
Proxy voting – 76 – yes and 58 no – 1 ballot disqualified
Financial resolution # 1 – 87 yes and n46 no – 1 ballot disqualified
Financial resolution # 2 – 88 yes and 45 no – 1 ballot disqualified
Following the announcement of the election results, Director Jake Bower announced his resignation. Ange Noonon was named as new director. Noonon will serve until the next annual meeting.
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.
by Kathy Leslie-Whelan
In lieu of the monthly open board meeting a town hall meeting was held to discuss the annual audit and the proposed proxy balloting resolution. Present were William Owens, the Association’s CPA and Attorney Alan Price Young from Young and Haros. The meeting was called to order at 2:00 pm. All board members were present with the exception of Treasurer Stefania Johnson.
Following the pledge of allegiance, Diane Caldwell started the meeting with thanking the membership for coming and stating that only the two topics listed above would be discussed and the membership should limit their questions and comments to these items.
Alan Price Young explained about the state statues for proxy voting for non-profit corporate law. Currently there is a debate in Harrisburg as to whether all bylaws must authorize this issue. He stated that in all fairness, this resolution should be passed. This resolution allows the membership to not have to be physically present to cast votes. The resolution calls for a directed proxy which works like a mail-in vote. Directed proxies allow the membership to vote as if they were present at the meeting. All votes received are counted towards the quorum count. Mr. Young stated that the benefits far outweigh the risks. The paperwork for this proxy would be included in the call to meeting that is sent out to the membership for the open annual meeting. The members who decide to vote this way will be instructed to mark their ballots and send through the mail to our accounting firm. The firm will validate the ballot, tally the votes and present a report to the board secretary at the annual open meeting.
Questions and comments on this issue:
- the members that vote this way will not get an opportunity to vote on any issues that require a vote at the meeting, such as a motion that is presented to the board by a member on the date of the meeting or a candidate ‘running from the floor’
- only two items in our bylaws were identified for adjustment while there are at least 5 locations in the bylaws that deal with voting
- trust relationship with the board is broken and it takes time to build that trust back up
- running from the floor will be more difficult since the membership will have cast their votes already
- a conflict with our bylaws is in item 3D. (Is this for voting for the directors only, or is it for any bylaw changes or dues increases?) unanswered. Board will have to discuss
- does the proxy ballot need to be notarized? (no)
- how many people signed petition (91)
- was strategic planning put into this resolution
- can a member who fills out a proxy withdraw their submittal (yes)
- deadline for submission of proxy ballot will be one week before the annual open board meeting.
Mr. Young stated that proxy voting is the fairest form of voting for the membership and that it is a way to build trust. He said that sometimes process gets in the way of progress. He further stated that state statures trump our bylaws and we may have to clean up the bylaws later.
Bill Owens took the floor to discuss the annual audit that is currently in draft format. He stated that the collection rate is doing well and that there were positive moves put in place over the course of the year.
- the association CPA did not personally prepare our tax return but he reviews all returns before they are submitted
- the CPA does not input data into our financial reports or into our bank account information
- $250K loan from reserves to operations has to go back into reserves
- on site manager was terminated
- the association is working on a month to month basis with Preferred Management
- Darryl Gamble is the interim General Manager
- all office staff at the administration building are ELA employees
Adjournment at 4:30 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.
by Kathy Leslie-Whelan
The meeting was called to order at 9:34 am. All board members were present.
Following the pledge of allegiance, Diane Caldwell started her President’s message thanking the membership for coming and reminding them to stay hydrated and to take care of our pets during this hot weather that we are having. She stated that there are many yard sales throughout the community this day and reminded the membership of the 4th of July celebration at the outdoor pool. There will be a grand reopening pool party and food will be available to the membership for $5.00 per head. Meet the candidates is scheduled for August 4th between the hours of 9:30 am and 12:00 noon. July 2nd is the last day to sign up to run for the board. The open annual meeting will be held on August 18th where registration will begin at 9:00 am.
Caldwell proceeded to give her observations on the community. She stated we are operating under deferred maintenance which caused unexpected delays in opening the outdoor pool. Several items had to be completed to get the pool operational. Maintenance staff had to run new pipe lines and install a new shed. New electrical boxes, filters and heating system were installed. Road maintenance will start next week. The indoor pool has run into problems, and it will not open on the anticipated date of July 15th. Although a check was received for over $100K to fix the pool, bids are coming in the $150K range. Our attorney is going back after the two insurance companies (boiler installer and temporary dehumidification system installer) to get the additional money needed to do the repairs. Mold remediation will require that scaffolding be installed. Additional money for the scaffolding is $48K. The insurance company stated that they do not want a temporary fix but a new dehumidification system installed. They will not pay out on another claim. Caldwell spoke of giving a down payment to a contractor to start with the new dehumidification needed. It may be a while before the work starts. The front entrance has work on the lighting and maintaining the shrubbery, new toilets were installed at main beach, all septic tanks have been pumped, mapped out and risers installed. The administration building needed to be rewired. The community center needed a socket installed on the outside of the building. Lawnmowers need to be repaired and the parts are coming in next week. Grass cutting should resume at that time. 38 citations were issued to the membership due to uncut lawns but they were all rescinded since the association has been unable to cut the common area grass. No citation will be issued until ELA mows the common areas. All work being done now is due to deferred maintenance which has been happening for the last 20 years. Caldwell stated that our biggest assets were our homes and we will lose value if we do not maintain the community.
Caldwell further stated that when she first moved to ELA there were an abundance of people in the community and on the committees and it is sad that people lost interest. There are 1,975 homes (actual properties) in the association and there are fewer than 20 people that attend meetings and yet there is a lot of bitching and moaning on social media. People only show up when there is a dues increase.
Caldwell stated she was going to call out two committees. Finance and Planning doesn’t do planning. They focus on finances. F&P needs to map out a plan of everything that has to be done within our finances. A plan needs to be mapped out based on the reserve study. Maintenance committee should not be giving a list of what they want done but what planning is being done. Maintenance wants a solar cover, they want the front entrance redone, but what is their plan to get this done. Caldwell asked for volunteers and not just the select few. We do not have an events committee. We do not have an ARC committee. We do not have a communication committee. Caldwell stated that August is coming and there may be new faces on the board. This is a good and beautiful community and people need to get involved.
Caldwell called for a motion to approve the May 2018 board minutes. After corrections from Stefania Johnson, Gilda Spiotta made the motion to approve the minutes. It was seconded by Dave Borsos. The minutes were accepted unanimously.
Stefania Johnson, in the Treasurer’s report, stated since we are in the process of an audit and the unaudited financials were given to her late last night which did not have the budget numbers she did not want to relay inaccurate information to the membership, so she did not have a report ready for the meeting. Johnson did report the following delinquent collections received from the management company for the month of May.
Sunrise Collection $2,655
Payment Plan $54,662
2nd Payment Plan $6,793
Total in collections $216,547
Johnson recommended that the board review their decision to hire Sunrise since they are not collecting what was anticipated. She also stated she will have more information after the audit report.
Leslie made the motion to accept the treasurer’s report. Seconded by Leon. Accepted unanimously.
Laura Jones started the Manager’s report stating that an email reminder was sent out to the membership regarding the dues deadline of June 15th for members on the payment plan. If dues were not received by June 16th a $150 late fee will be applied to the account. Our attorney advised us not to cash the check for the claim for the indoor pool until he has reviewed all the documentation so that we are protected for any damage that does not impact our ability to further pursue this claim. The money collected is insufficient to complete the work at the indoor pool. The original quote for the repair to the dome came in at $76K. This contract cannot start until a new dehumidification system is installed. Falcon is currently redrafting the bid specifications to parse out work that was completed in the temporary system that was installed. The bid specifications are due back in two weeks on July 15th. Once approved by the board the document will go out to bid. The bids will go out to large contractors and they will be required to obtain a performance bond. The system to be installed should last for 20 years. A date for completion cannot be given at this time.
Jones stated that the outdoor pool project is completed. With every step forward there were 4 steps back. New plumbing and piping was installed. Transformer was blown so a new electrical system was installed. Well pump and filters are all new and blue water was pumped in. By Friday at 4:00 pm before the opening it looked like a resort pool. Currently the pool is at 76 degrees since it is so warm out. The solar cover legs snapped so new legs are ordered and will be in by July 7th. Jones thanked staff for all their hard work. Considering all the problems the pool only opened 1 week late. Total project cost $35K.
Jones verified with legal counsel that any member on the payment plan or the hardship plan is consider a member in good standing and can use the amenities. The board approves any hardship payment plan in executive session. If one of these members misses a payment they are given 5 days to make their payment. If no payment is received they are no longer considered a member in good standing.
A concession agreement is in place with Square Fare. They have all the necessary permits to operate in Long Pond. This truck will operate at the outdoor pool, Main beach and Pine Tree Lake on a rotating basis. They will not be here on July 4th since the association is throwing the pool party and will have hot dogs, hamburgers and ice cream. The concessionaire is paying ELA $300/month to operate on the premises and the contract runs from June to August.
Jones stated that they are prepping for the annual meeting, to be held on August 18th. The call to meeting will be mailed on July 18th. Jones urged the membership to attend the Meet the Candidates so that you can make an informed decision and ask questions now. This session will be live streamed and can be seen on Facebook. Cookie Litwienski is looking for volunteers to help with this selection process.
The draft audit report should be completed in time to be reviewed at the July meeting.
Unpaved roads and road repair is budgeted at $300,300. They have good intentions on paving all unpaved roads and will repair what they can. Work will commence on July 10th, weather permitting. The membership is cautioned to drive carefully over the new tar and chip pavement.
Jones stated the 4th of July party will be between 1 and 5, and will be $5.00 per head for food. Those not paying can still enjoy the pool and join in the games. There is a 165 person limit at the pool area. When that number is reached, people will have to be turned away. The rain day for this event is Saturday July 7th. Pool hours are from 11:00 am to 7:30 pm. The lakes are open from dawn to dusk.
Jones stated that the petition submitted at the April open meeting for proxy voting is currently under law review. All language for proxy voting will become part of the by-laws if passed so they are ensuring that the language is legally correct. After the attorney approval, the board will review. This item will be included in the call to meeting mailing and will include an explanation.
Walk in Wednesdays is still in effect between 1 pm and 3 pm. Articles are being accepted for the ELA newsletter. Please send your articles or recipes to firstname.lastname@example.org. No inappropriate article will be published.
Spiotta opened the director’s comments stating that she is delighted to be retired this month. She is doing walk abouts where she picks up trash and welcomes anyone that wants to join her. We live in a beautiful community, and she is proud to be a member.
Johnson wished all a happy 4th and hoped that we were enjoying the pool and the lakes. She echoed Caldwell’s request that we need help on committees. We need people to be engaged. She will be a regular association member after August and will participate in committees.
Caldwell wished everyone a wonderful 4th of July and encouraged all to spend time with their families. She recently lost her step dad and Al Leslie lost his wife Virginia. She stated that none of us are promised tomorrow so enjoy today.
Leslie thanked everyone that reached out to him and his family with their sympathies.
Leon had no comment since he is still recovering from a hospital stay.
Bower (without an S) wished everyone a happy holiday. He stated that we have a lot of divides and we need to start fresh. We should not create anger. He stated we need a plan to take care of issues. We also need a solution to get volunteers out.
Borsos wished everyone a happy 4th and thanked Laura Jones for putting up the pool party idea being open to everyone and the fee is just for food. He stated that he appreciates the young lady that submitted the petition for the proxy voting and wanted to point out that it required a by-law change and requires board approval. He stated that 50% was required but Pat Galderisi stated that she only needed 5% of the membership to have something added to the agenda. Borsos questioned why the treasurer did not include regular dues in her report. Johnson responded that it was for past collections. Borsos further asked why we only had the food truck till August 31st. He was told that the pool closes after Labor Day and that ELA will probably have an event. In addition, he was told that the schools were starting earlier this year. He lastly asked if a rope was installed in the pool delineating where the deep end was and was told that it was.
Earl Frank as chair of the Finance and Planning committee stated that there was a $35K budget for the pool repair and asked what were the actual numbers. Jones stated that those numbers were not in yet. As for planning he asked if the board has received the minutes from F&P which included 10 recommendations. He further stated that the $152K in delinquent collection in-house just blows his mind. He requested to see the internal numbers and get a number of how many collections comprised this figure. He was promised these numbers for the next meeting. Frank also stated that our budget only accounts for $150K in delinquent collections and a recommendation by F&P was to put all money in excess of that number into reserves. Jones stated that that money would be transferred into reserves. Frank had a little bit of constructive criticism on the new format for the financials. He stated that they were confusing and did not match with our previous financials. He gave an example of the bar and grill losses being listed as $35K one way and $140K using a different approach. He was told that the new report format was in accordance with general accepted accounting principles. Frank asked what the breakout of $80K for supplies for the bar and grill were. Frank stated that with the new reporting structure we have accounting services at $42K while the old report had that figure at $10K. Frank stated that every year we have a lawn mower break down so he hopes we are checking the winter equipment so that we do not run into any issues in the winter. He was told that the lawn mowing equipment was operational but broke down during use. The unit we have now is not big enough to hold the flail arm so the piston keeps on breaking. A larger size piston is currently on order. Frank further stated that F&P is planning but it is hard when you don’t have the money to make the repairs. We can do a 25-year range plan, but there is no money.
At this point in time Caldwell stated that no plan was submitted and that we all know that we need a dues increase. Whelan stated that we have been planning and as an example of planning in the past Whelan stated there was a 5-year plan to pave the roads that he presented back in 2013 to plan unpaved roads. Caldwell interrupted him and said that that plan was from 2007 when Rich Houston presented it. Whelan said it was not. Caldwell stated that was a collective plan developed by 7 board members, which she was on and that it actually was Bob Lauri’s idea. Whelan challenged her on that by saying that it was part of his candidate speech in 2014 when he stated we are a community of haves and have nots.
Bower spoke on behalf of the real estate committee. The next meeting is scheduled for September. Plans are moving forward with the landlords to set stronger rules when it comes to fireworks and safety.
Johnson spoke on behalf of events. She stated that we need members. 4th of July executed by the management company but would like to resurrect committee to plan further events.
Darryl Gamble spoke about projects in the community center. The main entrance was rewired and signage is installed on the side of the building. Stage lights were corrected. If anyone wants to participate in an event please contact Darryl.
Jones offered to assist in the long range planning term of 1 to 20 year.
19 new members were welcomed. Leslie made the motion to accept the new members. Johnson seconded it and it passed unanimously.
Resolution 1-63018 Removal of Uncollectable Accounts
Leslie made motion to approve resolution. Seconded by Leon.
This resolution removes $253,301.14 in accounts that are deemed uncollectable. Some of the accounts are 14 to 20 years old and are no longer members in ELA. Statute of limitations has expired. No levies can be attached to these delinquent accounts.
Resolution passed unanimously.
Resolution 2-63018 Food Truck Concessionaire Agreement
Borsos stated that the contract is air tight on protecting the community and the concessionaire has all licenses and permits. He stated that the man seems responsible. Caldwell stated that he is an independent contractor that the board will not promote so no schedule or menu will be posted. He will operate between the hours of 10:00 am and 8:00 pm. It was also recommended that he take out an ad in our newsletter where he will receive a discount.
Leslie made motion to approve resolution. Seconded by Leon.
Resolution passed unanimously
Kathy Leslie Whelan stated that a performance bond is good and it is probably a good idea to have in our bids, however, they are hard to collect on and could be costly. It could add 10% of the cost to the bids so we have to include that in our bid estimate. The cost of a performance bond will be passed on to the association. These bonds are also very difficult to collect on. Audience member Brian Coe who has worked in the insurance industry for 20 years said that these bonds could be as low as 1% and it depends on the client if they have a good rating.
Jones responded that it will be part of the bid and the estimate is $300K. The engineering company will receive bids, evaluate the bids and make a recommendation to the board.
Buz Whelan commented on the problem with committees. He questioned what is different now. He stated that it could be because the volunteers do not feel appreciated. Committees need to feel important. For example, back in 2008 Bob Lauri, Maintenance committee liaison initiated a program of assigning usage logs to vehicles and major equipment. These were kept for a time, then abandoned. Lauri also criticized the way out-of-season equipment was stored. Whelan said he had a conversation with Lauri within the last month that equipment was still not properly stored. We need to resurrect the volunteer appreciation events which Pat Galderisi and the ELDAS group ran for many years.
Flo Mauri spoke on the outdoor pool. She questioned if the outdoor bathhouse was on the table. Jones spoke of installing a modular unit on a cement slab and tying it into our current septic system. These units can be purchased used between $20K and $30K. Mauri questioned why we do not mention people’s names when we welcome the new members. Jones stated it was not a good idea to release names and address. Sometimes new owners don’t want their name released. Finally Mauri stated that a policy book should be given out to new members that references ELA history so that they do not reinvent the wheel and stay in the same place.
Pat Galderisi commended the board and Johnson on writing off aged accounts. She asked if the board was being interviewed and will the report be clean qualified or disclaimed. Response was that they do not know yet. Galderisi stated that eliminating the ARC committee was a mistake and allowed Classic to not follow the rules. Galderisi has asked numerous times about Classic and not once has she got a straight answer. Galderisi questioned about our database and was told that it ran with TOPS. The badging system is handled by TEM Gatehouse. They are trying to update that system into TOPS. Galderisi asked if a dues increase is being presented to the membership in August and was told no.
Brian Coe questioned the committees and the demographics of the 19 new home owners. He stated that younger people communicate in a different way. His home is on Gap View and asked if there were homes on his road that were not part of the association. Jones stated that some of the homes are not on ELA property and do not belong to the association. Whelan asked if we could invite them to join. Jones stated that we could charge them a road access fee if they are not part of the association.
Ange Noonan stated that there is too much fighting. She stated we have a good board and we should be good neighbors.
Adjournment at 12:09 pm.
by Kathy Leslie-Whelan
The meeting was called to order at 9:32 am. Six board members were present. Al Leslie was absent. Before the meeting started Diane Caldwell announced that the meeting was being live streamed and will be posted on a new Facebook site that is limited to residents in Emerald Lakes. The stream will be kept live for 1 to 2 weeks. An email was sent out after the meeting which contained the link for this live feed. The membership will have to sign a disclaimer before access is granted. The membership will not be able to comment or share the feed. The link is:
Following the pledge of allegiance, Caldwell immediately called for a motion to approve the April 28th board minutes. After corrections from Dave Borsos and Jake Bower, Bob Leon made the motion to approve the minutes. It was seconded by Gilda Spiotta. The minutes were accepted unanimously.
Caldwell started her President’s message thanking the membership for coming and stating again that we are now live feeding this meeting so there can be no misinterpretation of what transpires at these meetings. She stated that the annual open meeting will be held in August and that any member in good standing that wants to run for the board can fill out an application in the Administration office. A bio must be submitted with the application. There are 3 slots open. Caldwell stated that there were several ways to contact the board; by walk in Wednesday and by emails that are checked daily. She stated that no questions are coming through to elainc.org. Flo Mauri interjected that she sent a message in two weeks ago and got no response. The board seemed surprised and will have Brad Jones from Preferred Management look into why the messages are not going through.
Caldwell continued with her message by stating that there is a lot going on. The beaches are opened and the outdoor pool will open soon. There was a broken pipe that needed to be repaired, the boathouse was condemned, they are looking to purchase a shed for the filtration system and they are renting porta potties. They plan an official grand opening when all this is completed. It is anticipated that the outdoor pool will open in mid June.
Caldwell stated that we received a check for a little over $100K for the indoor pool repair from the insurance company. They are currently taking bids for the repair, mold remediation, sheet rock replacement and painting. They are trying to expedite the delivery of the customized part that was ordered. It is anticipated that the indoor pool will be opened in July.
Stefania Johnson in the Treasurer’s report stated that the numbers that she is reading are preliminary numbers since our outside audit is underway.
(Money is reported on as Fiscal Year to Date)
Administration sub total $25,146 over budget (Doubtful accounts removed, collections, attorney expenses)
Doubtful accounts and collections $53,270 over budget
Public Safety $5,270 over budget
Maintenance $18,442 over budget
Community Center $7,133 under budget
Bar and Grill $24,144 over budget
Delinquent collections December through April are at:
Slusser Law Firm – $178,600
Sunrise Collection $47,487
Amnesty program $68,600
Total in collections $418,197
Johnson ended the treasurer’s report by reading a statement that she read from a year ago. She stated we have large expenses but do not have the funds to address our needs.
Leon made the motion to accept the treasurer’s report. Seconded by Spiotta. Accepted unanimously.
Floor was turned over to Joe Gallagher from Ecological Solutions for a report on the lakes. Gallagher has submitted his annual report which is on fisheries and water quality. Gallagher maintains all six lakes from May to October. They are working on an invasive plant species in Mountain Top lake, and they are still treating with remaining chemicals. Lower Deer Lake is being treated. They are using environmentally safe chemicals so they do not interfere with swimming or fishing. They are out in a gray boat wearing gray shirts and putter along with an outboard motor. This boat is needed to move around the chemicals. Artificial structures are being installed in our lakes so that young fish have a place to hide. They are managing different lakes for different species. They are also moving fish from lake to lake to utilize the resources in our community so that we have a balanced population. Bower asked about 12″ bass that are being purchased and asked why aren’t we buying smaller fish. Bigger fish are needed to balance out the lakes. Bower wanted to know if bids were taken for the fish. Gallagher explained that they do not buy the fish for us but just recommend what is needed. It is also a good thing to buy from local fisheries due the transportation of the fish.
It is important to harvest fish. Small fish from West Emerald lake are being moved to other lakes. Darren Johnson stated that there are numerous people that are not being respectful and are overfishing and not releasing. Gallagher stated that it not just ELA but it is in all communities where fish are being over harvested.
The lily pads are being worked on. We need 30% to 40% vegetation for the fish. Any treatment done this year will not be noticed until next year.
Mary Kavanaugh stated that we need to remind people through signage and public safety that this is a private lake. People that live in the area feel that our lakes are for public use.
Gallager will put an article together for the next Emerald News Letter.
Brad Jones gave the manager’s report by stating that he has nothing on the lakes. The weather has put maintenance behind on the lakes, outside pool, grass cutting, etc. The indoor pool insurance issue has been resolved and if we acted fast we would not have gotten so much money. The architectural drawing for the outside pool is with the township for approval and no problem is anticipated. The outdoor pool should be opened by June 16th. Septic areas are being identified and are in good condition. Raised collars were installed so that we do not have to re-dig the area when access is needed. Flood lights at the main entrance are being fixed, the sign in front of the Community Center was moved so that it is more visible and the stage lights are being moved. New mailboxes were installed on Glade Drive and at the Estates. Parcel boxes were also installed.
Dave Borsos started off with the director’s comments by complimenting all that worked on getting the live feed up and operational. Jake Bower stated that he learned a lot on the board especially about people that live in the community. He is trying to address issues that come up and is trying to listen to what we say. Bob Leon stated that they have being trying for a while to find the septic system on Main Beach. Caldwell reminded people of the Memorial Day function that will be held at noon on Monday at the main entrance. She thanked all servicemen for their service. Johnson wished everyone a happy and safe memorial day weekend. She reminded folks that race weekend is coming up so we should keep a low profile. She is looking forward to the pool opening and the board needed to do things appropriately and that right decisions were made. Spiotta stated that she will be at the celebration and that the board has a shared responsibility. She gets frustrated and upset with things. The board has to do the right thing and it is not easy., It takes time, research and patience to do things right.
Committee Chair reports started with Earl Frank of F&P. He requested that the financial statements be made simpler to read. He congratulated the delinquency collections of $408K and said we topped last year’s figure by $130K. He thanked Nicole Clemons for her diligence with the in house collections.
Jake Bower for Real Estate spoke of the landlords’ meeting that will be held next Saturday. Items to be discussed are the responsibility to relay information to renters. Bower emphasized the regulation for fireworks in the community. Fireworks in this community are illegal and can cause fire or harm to people. Chris Claude requested that floating fire lanterns be added. Caldwell interjected that the townships are clamping down on rentals. the number of people allowed in a rental is 2 people per bedroom. They are looking at septic systems. Short term rental will have more rules in place to protect the quality of life for full time residents and are a good revenue stream. If a member sees more than 10 cars in a driveway they should report it to the administration office to ensure that that household is on the list of properties that are short term rentals.
Resolution 1-52619 2018-2019 Operating and Capital Budget Adoption
Borsos made motion to approve resolution. Seconded by Leon. Resolution passed unanimously. No discussion.
Resolution 2-52628 2018 Capital Reserve Study Adoption
Johnson made motion to approve resolution. Seconded by Leon. Resolution passed unanimously. No discussion.
The Kipcom study will be available to the membership online and at the administration office. Margaret Fitzgerald asked what the study cost. Jones responded $3,925.
Bill Henry mentioned that today is fish for free day and that no license was needed today.
Pat Galderisi wanted to know what happened with the petition that was handed in at the last meeting. Jones stated that it was under review. Galderisi also stated that Classic Home Builders has been in ELA for 18 years. She stated that Ralph Musto had to go to court with his paystub when Classic challenged the Association on permit fees. She asked what was in settlement. Jones stated that a permit will be granted in 3 days and will be simultaneous with the township permit process. Classic will pay dues and permit fees. Classic was given 10 free building passes. Galderisi stated that Classic is here to sell properties and shows the Community Center to prospective buyers. Appraisals on homes do not go up due to the amenities. Classic owns over 200 properties and they cast a lot of votes at the open meeting. Galderisi also requested for a second time, a copy the engagement letter sent to the auditor. She questioned where was the hot dog cart. Galderisi asked how many landlords are in ELA and was told about 163.
Flo Mauri stated she did not know where to begin. She does not live near the lakes and stated we are in austerity mode. Why are we putting money into the lakes? She wanted to know what was budgeted for the lakes and felt we were spending too much money on the lakes. She was told that $1,000 was used for restocking and that the budget has not changed for lake maintenance. Mauri further stated that the septic tanks are failing since they are not being maintained. Classic Home septic systems are failing and are causing harm to the community. Classic sells properties in this community that go into foreclosure. He then resells these properties. It is affecting the value of our homes. Our community is depressed. We are not bouncing back or addressing these issues. Caldwell stated that we have not recovered from the 2008 crash. She stated that it is just not ELA with these issues and that homes for sales take 18 month to 2 years to sell at reduced costs. She stated that this is a nationwide issue.
Darren Johnson stated that the streaming is good. It cuts down on 3rd party mouth pieces. Three months ago, he witnessed a lynch mob mentality. He doesn’t want to be an elitist but he had to listen to nonsense and ignorance.
Mary Kavanaugh stated that when she went to pay her dues she saw the budget. She was disappointed that the events were down to only 4. She stated that the Halloween and New Year’s Eve party have always been successful and she hopes that we can still have these functions. She is willing to pay more for the event since it will defray the costs.
Kavavaugh also stated that not everyone gets the email blasts and that pine trees that came down from the last storm were dumped in an vacant area. Kavavaugh also asked about the policy on farm animals. There is a property that has these animals. Johnson responded about the events. She stated that she was big on children’s events. The 4 events on the budget may not be accurate or true as to what events will occur.
Buz Whelan stated the budget has $108K line item for Management services. Our current contract is expiring at the end of this month and was the board planning on extending the contract. Jones stated that the board was addressing this at the executive session. Whelan also stated that there are currently 3 board positions up for grabs. Currently a director has their house up for sale. In the past when a board member did this they tendered their resignation before the annual meeting even though there is no obligation to do that. That information would be helpful to know and it may have an impact on the annual meeting. Caldwell stated that she has no knowledge that anyone is leaving. Whelan further stated at the F&P meeting he was informed that payment plan deals were made for members with large delinquencies. He asked if those members were able to use the amenities or vote. Laura Jones told him that they were allowed to use the amenities and could vote. Whelan stated that according to our bylaws, which are clearly defined, they were not allowed to vote. He questioned if the board was ignoring our bylaws. Whelan stated that the board holds dominion over the amenities but not over the bylaws. Jones stated that under the Planned Community Act members in good standing are allowed to vote. Jones stated that this Act trumps our bylaws. Whelan stated that he was incorrect and that in the act it stated that proxy voting should be available to the membership yet we do not allow it. Our bylaws trump this act. Pat Galderisi reinforced this by stating that our bylaws are our bylaws and that we are grandfathered in. Jones will research this issue.
Margaret Fitzgerald stated that Whelan covered a lot of her questions but she is recommending that we do not renew the contract with Preferred Management. Our community is falling apart and Preferred Management is not doing their job. Darren Johnson interjected at this point that if his car is not working properly and if it cannot be fixed, he would replace it. Fitzgerald stated that at the special meeting, Jones said that money for the roads was being cut. As a member she cannot take his wise ass attitude.
Pat Galderisi spoke again by complimenting the board for including the budget in the mailing for the special meeting. She requested that we have more special guests at the meeting such as our auditor and attorney.
19 new members were welcomed to the community.
by Kathy Leslie-Whelan
The meeting was called to order at 9:31 am by Al Leslie, followed by the pledge of allegiance. All board members were present with the exception of Diane Caldwell who attended the meeting remotely. Laura Jones from Preferred Management was absent with Brad Jones filling in.
Leslie immediately called for a motion to approve the March 10th minutes. Jake Bower made the motion and Bob Leon seconded it. The minutes were accepted unanimously.
Leslie read the standard board meeting procedures which stated the meeting would be held in accordance with Roberts Rules of Order and cautioned the membership that inappropriate language would not be tolerated. He stated that any member who received two warnings would be asked to leave the meeting. The membership was not allowed to comment on the meeting until public comments and that 2 minutes will be allotted to each member in good standing.
The meeting was recorded and minutes were taken by Nicole Clemens. Leslie called for a motion to approve the March 24th minutes. Stefania Johnson made the motion and Gilda Spiotta seconded it. The minutes were accepted unanimously.
Leslie went on to say that there would be no president’s message since he just heard he was chairing the meeting.
The floor was turned over to Stefania Johnson for the treasurer’s report. The numbers reported were based on Fiscal Year to Date (FYTD) numbers.
Administration $14,210 over after removal of doubtful accounts.
Public Safety $1,452 over due to camera, salaries and insurance.
Maintenance $17,820 over due to vehicles and snow.
Community Center $1,522 under
Bar and Grill $2,216 under where a profit of $1,119 was made in March. Johnson stated that it is too little too late.
Collections – $278K FYTD
Collections from December to March
Sunrise – $43,646
Amnesty program – $68,600.
Previous Attorney – $166,310
Johnson stated that a breakdown of in-house collections will be provided in the future.
Assets – $268,529
Accounts Receivables – $485,182
Fixed Assets – $95,112
Reserves – $221,186 Last Year at this time $389,578
Dues Collections this year $1.3M, last year $1.2M and in 2015/2016 $1.39M.
Bower made motion to accept treasurer’s report, seconded by Leon. Report accepted unanimously.
Brad Jones started the manager’s report saying that the preliminary budget will be available to the membership for review on the official web site and at the administration office after the meeting when the board approved the revised budget that did not include the failed $200 annual increase. Jones stated that any delinquent account at $1,000 or less will be handled in house by phone and/or letters. Maintenance staff are currently fixing pot holes due to the harsh winter that we had. Roads are being prepped for work to be scheduled in the summertime. Maintenance is also working on the lakes and outdoor pool. Our fishing club will be installing artificial structures in our lakes. Boaters and swimmers were asked to avoid these structures if they see them. The structures are to help smaller fish survive by giving them an area to hide. This action is based on the recommendation of the lake maintenance contractor and will cut down on the need to restock the lakes.
Leon opened up the director’s comments by explaining why the geese eggs on our beaches are being targeted. Goose poop can cause E coli in our lakes and closing down of swimming areas. Lakes are tested on a weekly basis.
Borsos made a few observations on the special meeting. He stated that it was inefficient that people had to wait in lines so long which led to the 48 minute delay in starting the meeting. He was disappointed in the decorum of the meeting and that all the shouting made it difficult to hear what was going on. He was disappointed that the misstated points were not clarified when the membership was given their two minutes of floor time. An example he gave was that someone asked why the cook was considered full time when the kitchen is only open part time.
Bower stated that he would love to see as many people that showed up for this meeting to show up on a regular basis. He stated that our committees are skeletons so they are looking for more people to volunteer.
Johnson wanted to echo the sentiments of her fellow board members. Johnson is frustrated and stated we are in a tight monetary situation and have been for years. Services will continue to be cut and amenities will not be maintained. Johnson stated we are in this together. We have to work together. She further stated that things will not get done overnight. She appreciates the large turnout.
Caldwell had no comment.
Spiotta stated that she pays her dues as well as picks up trash. She tries to participate in events and that we are all in this together. She further stated that the butterfly garden cleaning will be on May 19th between the hours of 1PM to 4PM with a rain date of May 20th. Borsos interjected that the money for the butterfly garden came from the volunteers and that no association money was used.
Leslie stated that there are two distinct groups, one in favor and one that are doubters/haters. He urged people to come out and be informed. The special meeting was an example of what is wrong with our community. He hopes that things will turn around.
Johnson stated that they are trying to make the meeting more accessible to the membership, and she is hopeful that it will happen soon.
Under committee chair reports, Louise Leon spoke on behalf of the water aerobics club. She stated, “Wow, what a mess. The pool is out more than it is open.” She bought here for the pools since she and her daughter are avid swimmers. The pool is great for seniors to exercise.
Earl Frank, chair of Finance and Planning (F&P) stated that his committee would not approve the budget unless depreciation, which is an expense, is included on the budget. He asked when was the last time an inventory was completed on our assets. He also stated that with the new people in the office that there were a lot of adjustments and that we are going into the last month of our fiscal year. He requested a sit down to go over the delinquent collections.
Bower spoke for the Real Estate committee. He stated that there is a landlord meeting being planned to identify how we can help them. It is important that landlords communicate with their tenants.
Johnson spoke for the Events committee. Due to the committee members working long hours, this committee has gotten small and they are in dire need of volunteers to build more of a neighborly atmosphere. They need people to help execute the events.
Spiotta spoke on behalf of Rules and Regulations. She stated there was no new information and the last meeting was held over the winter. The next scheduled meeting will be on May 12th at 9:30 in the administration building. The meeting will be held with management to discuss what rules are enforceable and which ones are in conflict.
Eleven new members were welcomed to the neighborhood. Johnson made the motion to accept the new members, which was seconded by Leon. Passed unanimously.
Under new business, Jones stated that the 2017/2018 audit has been started by our outside auditor. It is anticipated to have this report in June. Jones went on to talk about the budget which he stated was bare bones. Service cuts will include elimination of the grill; bar will be open on Friday and Saturday only and will serve finger foods (hours can be expanded if there is traffic); compacter will be open 3 days instead of four which will reduce staffing (Saturday, Sunday and a day to be determined based on when garbage is hauled by contractor. Hours will remain the same on the weekend, but have not been established for the weekday.); road funds were reduced from $110K to $45K; temporary solution for bathhouse consisting of a structure for pool equipment and porta-potties.
An explanation was given for $100K identified in the old preliminary budget. The drainage system there is obsolete/non-existent and there is a cracked foundation, so the old structure was condemned and had to be removed. Excavation and a new drainage/septic system is needed. Engineering stamps of approval are needed as well as township permits (house construction permits are required). A new foundation has to be poured and a structure built that is ADA compliant. Need to change fencing and widen walkways and a chair has to be installed so that handicapped members can get into the pool.
Currently maintenance vehicles need to be replaced but there is no funding. Preferred Management recommended financing the vehicle over 5 years but the board decided to buy one out of reserves for $65K as a onetime purchase. New roads to be paved will be from special funding at $137K and is separate from budget.
Jones stated that a depreciation schedule from the auditor will be sent to Frank of F&P.
All directors commented on how low our reserves are.
Resolution # 1-42418 – Preliminary 2018-2019 Operating and Capital Budget Approval
Leon questioned why a special meeting was needrd to approve the budget and was told that it had to be after the 30 day membership review.
Bower made a motion to accept the revised preliminary budget which was seconded by Borsos. Passed unanimously.
Resolution 2-42418 – Rescinding of Temporary Trash Pass Policy
Members not in good standing will no longer be able to use the compactor. No discussion.
Johnson made a motion to accept rescinding temporary trash passes which was seconded by Bower. Passed unanimously.
Joan Gregorio stated that she wanted to vote for an increase but wants to know where the money is going. She questioned what was going on with the pool. She uses the pool as medicine for her back. Jones told her it was an insurance issue and there were already 3 meetings with the insurance company. Our attorney is pushing them but we cannot touch the pool until the insurance carrier makes a determination of what caused problem. Jones also stated that the money for the new dehumidification system is in the preliminary budget. (Reporter note: the insurance company in question is not our carrier but a contractor’s carrier. Anticipated repair costs are $5K.)
Monica asked if our cash reserves were being invested and was told that a portion was.
Christine Elizabeth thanked the board and handed them a petition to request that proxy voting for members in good standing be added to the August annual open meeting for membership vote.
Adam has been a resident for two years and questioned why all the money was asked for when taxes are due. Payments should be spread out over 12 months. He recommended that for security services we go to the police and finally we should put money in roads.
Darren Johnson suggested that all services be taken away and that we raze the buildings. Then he can start making plans to get out of here. He stated that social media is toxic, vitriol. The board will not comment on social media. Jones interjected that social media is frustrating and the board does not engage in social media. The comments are reactive and the board chooses to be proactive. Eventually you will be able to watch the board meeting via Facebook. There is too much misinformation out there. The board is being proactive so that people can watch in real time and see what is being said. Ms. Johnson interjected that they were on an austerity plan and that a reserve study will be released soon on all of our amenities which will include the life expectancy of them. There are $6-7M worth of repairs and maintenance of assets over the next 5 plus years. Ms Johnson stated that if we remove all the amenities we will only have administration, roads and lakes. Leon stated that the board is responsible for the amenities and we cannot eliminate them.
Larell Marie stated she understands the need for an increase but the board should be going for a smaller increase. Also she felt the penalties were unfair and that monthly or quarterly payments should be allowed.
Heidi Castro stated that the board did get an increase in the $60 that is being charged for people that opt to pay for the first six months. She questioned where this money was going. She stated the association should spend more resources on the watersheds. Water can be overwhelming and is coming up onto people’s properties close to their homes. Jones stated that all revenue collected as an administrative fee will go into operations. As to standing water on properties the owner is responsible to maintain the culverts.
Connie Simpson stated that a new home being built by her has no culvert. Jones responded that that is the last item that they install.
Kathy Rich asked what strategy is in place for irresponsible landlords. The septic systems are being overwhelmed, there is abusive language, there are too many cars, garbage is strewn all over. What recourse does she have? Bower stated that they are enforcing the rules and regulations and are identifying landlords. Any issues should be reported to the main office, Darryl Gamble and Ralph Musto.
Reggie asked about changing insurance companies since it is too long for them to resolve our case with the indoor pool. Jones told him it was just not our insurance carrier but our plumber’s carrier. We cannot touch system until it is resolved.
Louis Schneider asked why we were being punished for people that owe back dues and what are we getting for our money. Leslie stated that they changed the collection policy and are aggressively going after the delinquent accounts.
Flo Mauri stated that we have an engaged audience and we were informed and got an education about the $100K for the bathhouse. She recommended an ad hoc committee to look into why we need and how to get a dues increase.
Pat Galderisi questioned how much of our dues money was going into reserves. Jones told her that $200 was going into reserves and $800 into operations. Galderisi stated that last quarter 53% of membership was non compliant and did not pay their dues. Money hasn’t been put back into reserves. Classic/Wengerd pays no dues, no transfer fees. She requested a copy of the letter sent to our auditor requesting a full audit. She wanted to know who recommended the lake structures and was told it was by our lake maintenance contractor.
Galderisi stated she did not vote for a dues increase and it broke her heart. She feels the board is not transparent in our financials. She further stated that Classic sold over 50 homes in ELA and we did not get a transfer tree. ELA just settled with him. Galderisi also stated that there were “straw buyers” present at our special meeting casting votes. Jones responded that Classic pays their assessment when they sell their property and that we do go after them. We cannot prohibit this contractor from building. Brad further stated that they are not allowed to vote.
Igor Palka questioned that in addition to the $5K to fix the pool, what are attorney costs? Palka also questioned why all our dues money was required up front. Jones stated that he cannot give any more information on the pool but that the dues were needed up front since there was a small window of time to perform required maintenance in the community. Jones stated that 75% of the budget was spent in the first six months of our fiscal year. The $10 administrative fee is not a penalty.
Jay Caruso asked who do we ask to find out information on the insurance company and what legal actions can we take. Jones said he would look into protocol for members to contact insurer directly.
Louise Leon stated that she moved here for a recreational community.
Joe Olall stated that each township has a board of supervisors and that not a penny of our taxes comes back into our community. We should go to the township to get some money. We can solve the problem by installing one of our own to this position. If the supervisor doesn’t give us funds, we should vote them out.
Edward B. stated that he had no problem with increase but 6 month payments in a row is crazy.
Jeff B felt the same way. People do not have the means to pay six months in a row.
Jenn Gonzalez thanked the board for attempting to make the meeting more accessible to the membership. She agreed with Kathy Rich that this one rental house was a problem. She questioned what was happening to the geese eggs and if they were being destroyed. Jones stated that they are identified and reported to the state which then issues a permit for addling. The eggs are addled which means the eggs are physically rubbed with oil which prevents them from hatching. Gonzalez further commented on the insurance carrier for the pool and what time line are they on. She asked if the pool hours would change with the bar and grill hours. She questioned if we have shopped around for pricing on the pool house and was told that they are still looking into it. Finally she questioned if there was an age limit for the committees and volunteering. Johnson responded that we tried to get teen groups together as well as a parents’ club. These attempts were unsuccessful. If Gonzalez can find teens or people please let them come forward. Thomas P suggested that Penn Dot is currently doing milling and that we can reuse that material to do road work.
Joe Morgan stated that our unofficial face book page has 850 members that post all the time. If information is incorrect or numbers are wrong, why can’t it be corrected? The board should educate the members in a responsible way. Johnson stated she was not allowed to comment on the page. Over a period of time the page has gotten worse. She stated the board was cognizant of the page. Morgan questioned if the board had an action list for answering questions. He was told that the board addresses the questions directly to the individual or at the next meeting.
Kathy Leslie-Whelan commented for Bob Lauri who could not stay for the whole meeting. He felt that the board should be educating the membership on the website about important issues about reserve funding etc. Leslie-Whelan than asked about the Paul Capozzoli Memorial Scholarship and stated that she and her husband would like to contribute an addition $100 to the fund like they did last year. Caldwell stated that she sent the check for $200 to the guidance counselor at the high school. Jones stated that the board fulfilled their obligation and that if she wanted to contribute something she should do it on her own.
Buz Whelan started his comments with a compliment. How the board managed to get a cover letter written on April 20th into an envelope that was mailed on April 19th was beyond him. “This is real David Copperfield,” Whelan said. Whelan stated that when the membership approved the last dues increase they were promised 2 things, whether or not the word ‘promise’ was used. They were told that there would be quarterly payments and further that $200K would be dedicated to road maintenance. The quarterly payment argument has been made. But the latest budget, just passed, has repaving set at $165K down $35K from the amount promised. That makes two promises broken. Further, Bob Leon was correct earlier when he said the budget being passed was not presented first to the membership for comment which is required by our bylaws. The board put us in this position by waiting until April to ask for an increase. This need was known for over two years and the meeting should have been held in January or February. But Pa law requires a budget be in place by the beginning of the fiscal year, May 1st. Whelan said that he and others warned at three separate meetings that the meeting was headed for disaster, but the warnings were ignored. He then said that month after month resolutions reflecting complex issues are passed with little or no discussion telling him that the real discussions and decisions are made at the secret, closed workshops. Why should the membership trust the board as they repeatedly ask when they don’t keep promises or respect the membership?
Pat Galderisi stated that the April 14th meeting was premeditated to make the board look bad. It was an ambush to make it look like the board didn’t know what they were doing.
Meeting was adjourned at 12:17 PM.
by Kathy Leslie-Whelan
The meeting was called to order at 9:33 am, followed by the pledge of allegiance. All board members were present.
Diane Caldwell read the standard board meeting procedures which stated the meeting would be held in accordance with Roberts Rules of Order and cautioned the membership that inappropriate language would not be tolerated. As Secretary, Gilda Spiotta was taking minutes and the membership was not allowed to comment on the meeting until public comments and that 2 minutes will be allotted to each member in good standing.
Caldwell immediately called for a motion to approve the February minutes. Al Leslie made the motion and Jake Bower seconded it. The minutes were accepted unanimously.
Caldwell began her president’s message with stating that she hopes everyone is ready for spring. She stated that it was enough already with the snow, nor’easter and school closings. Caldwell mentioned the package that was sent out to the membership. She did not want to repeat herself and sound like a broken record, but if we look around things are falling apart. She also said that we live in a beautiful community and beautiful people live here. She stated that we should think and look around and make a conscientious decision when we cast a vote on April 14th.
The floor was turned over to Stefania Johnson for the treasurer’s report. Johnson reported that with the death of our accountant we do not have accurate numbers for her to report on. The numbers that were submitted need to be revised so she did not want to have to correct her report at a future board meeting. There have been challenges with the passing of Mike Gruber, but our outside accountant, Preferred Management and our newly hired accountant are working to correct the numbers. In addition, they are automating the system and changing the way the numbers are reported. Laura Jones added that there is nothing wrong with our financials, it is just a matter of correcting allocation numbers.
Laura Jones started the manager’s report saying that it snowed the first 15 days of March. The maintenance crew was worn out as well as the trucks used to plow. A driver suffered a minor injury when he was hit by a pick-up truck and one vehicle broke down. She commended staff for getting in and mentioned that it took Officer Ramos from public safety 4 hours to get to work during the storm. The administration office was closed during these snow incidents and only essential personnel were required to come in. Essential personnel were identified as herself, public safety and maintenance. Jones explained that the mound of snow at the end of your driveway is called a rift and it is not done on purpose. The plow causes the rift pushing snow. Jones further stated that there is no list of people where ELA plows their driveways. She cannot plow one person’s driveway if she cannot plow everyone’s driveway. However, if there is a medical emergency or other type of emergency such as a fire, they will go in and assist to get that individual plowed out. Jones further stated that due to HIPA laws she was not allowed to ask people what their medical emergency was and therefore could not maintain a list. She did not want to discourage any member who had a legitimate issue to call for assistance. She said she was sorry for the comments on the unofficial Facebook page.
Jones stated that the board has approved the preliminary budget with the 6 month payment plan at the March 14th meeting. Jones stated that there was an error in the call-to meeting notice and that she takes full responsibility for it. The call to meeting will be amended at the April 14th meeting. The meeting will be for the membership to vote on a $200 dues increase. Doors will open at 9:00 am and any member that is here by 10:00 am will not be turned away.
Jones stated that we currently have a lawsuit with Button Oil and Button sent us a check for less than what is owed. The check will not be cashed and Jones reached out to Nick Haros, our current attorney. Our denial on the small game of chance license was also turned over to our counsel. First step is to have ELA on the township agenda to have us designated as a civil organization under a tavern license. A restaurant would be required to be open by the state if we receive this license.
The draft reserve study which includes a road assessment has been received from Kipcon. The board is reviewing the document for any possible changes for funding methods. Once this document is approved by the board it will be made available to the membership.
The phone prompts at the administration building have been corrected by Frontier. New mailbox clusters have been delivered and will hopefully be installed this week if weather permits. The postmaster will need an additional 7 to 10 business days to install locks. Boxes will be distributed by the Toby post office. Finally Jones stated that walk in Wednesday still exists and she is available between the hours of 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm. If a member cannot make those times she will be available by appointment.
Dave Bursos opened up the director’s comments by explaining his abstaining from two votes at the last meeting. It was not that he was unprepared but the he wanted to show his displeasure/disapproval of those motions without being overly negative. He also stated that if homeowners plowed 10 feet off their driveways they would not get a rift.
Jake Bower stated that he is still a rookie on the board but that this board puts in thousands of hours as volunteers. Most people do not see all the time they spend to try to improve this association. They are looking for more people to volunteer.
Bob Leon had no comment.
Al Leslie said we need more people on committees. Committees are a big help to the board.
Stefania Johnson wanted to add to Bower’s point. She has been a resident for 9 years and although Facebook is interesting, we need a better way to communicate. Some people are playing a political game. Every year it is the same. The purpose of being on the board is a fiduciary responsibility to make this place better. They are trying their best and if we feel we can do better, we should step up to the plate and run for the board. The board will always get criticized but they need to fix things in the Association and they need the money to do it. Johnson is frustrated that the indoor pool is not open. She said that our infrastructure is falling apart and that she is trying to protect our investments. She said that the board is constantly attacked and people are not coming to them with solutions. Johnson received applause from Caldwell.
Gilda Spiotta stated that she agrees with Johnson, Bower and Leslie. Although this is her second year on the board, this is the first year she gets it. There are real clear numbers but it is not a pretty picture. She stated that we all understand what is needed. She moved in to ELA in 2004 and things need to be maintained. We cannot continue to go on, we must maintain the Association in a healthy manner. She further stated that the board is not working in a vacuum. The board is responsible and diligent. Spiotta stated the budget was a structure and must be adjusted. The board has a huge responsibility to the Association and that we are all in this together. Spiotta stated that it breaks her heart that the pool is closed. She further said that when we air dirty laundry we insult the board, the staff and our neighbors. We should not be airing this laundry on social media and that the unofficial Facebook page is irresponsible. She stated that she just lost a neighbor and that life was short. We should enjoy life and make it beautiful. We should wake up with a smile on our faces and if not we should chop wood.
Diane Caldwell thanked everyone she sits with on the board and all the time they put in. Caldwell stated that our greatest assets, besides our children, is our home values. Caldwell also stated that she didn’t want anyone to misconstrue what they are doing. They are not threatening just stating the facts. The numbers are there and have been mapped out for the membership and all negativity flies. She stated that this board has shown transparency and that she has been called everything from the c word down. She is just trying to do her job.
Earl Frank, chair of Finance and Planning (F&) started the committee chair reports stating that the minutes with 5 recommendations from F&P was sent to the board. He requested a confidentiality form so that this writer can continue to attend these meeting and take notes. Franks requested that the dues collected be reported on separately from what is deposited into our checking account. Franks asked if more money was collected by Sunrise and was told yes by Jones. Neither Jones or Johnson had a copy of these figures. F&P is recommending that if a $200 dollar increase is approved by the membership that $100 should go into reserves and that the board should commit to that number. In addition, since the budget only lists $150K in delinquent dues collections, that any money collected over that amount also should go towards reserves. At this time Frank turned the floor over to Buz Whelan to discuss an F&P concern. The concern was that according to our bylaws the membership does not vote on the budget but on the requested dues increase. Whelan said he is happy at least some of the board and management read Facebook, though they will never admit it, because they are making the exact changes he wrote about on social media regarding the actual subject of the vote (dues increase). Frank went on to say that the notice of call to meeting was deceiving but Jones stated it was not. F&P made a recommendation that if the board was not committed to their recommendations, he wants it on record that F&P will not approve the budget. Spiotta asked if that was a threat.
Jake Bower spoke for the Real Estate committee. The purpose of this committee is to make it easier for landlords to rent their properties. If someone has a bad experience with a renter, that information is disbursed to the other landlords. If someone double booked their rental, they can reach out to other landlords that have rentals available. In additional, landlords are informed of any township rules such as how many people can rent a home, i.e., 2 people per bedroom.
Stefania Johnson spoke for the Events committee. The Easter egg hunt and breakfast with the bunny will be held next Saturday. Over the past months this committee has gotten small and they are in dire need of volunteers. They need people to help execute the events. Hands on work needs to be done. Their next meeting will be after the dues increase meeting to see where they stand. There will be an email blast going out to the membership to look for volunteers.
Ten new members were welcomed to the neighborhood. Al Leslie made the motion to accept the new members, which was seconded by Bob Leon. Passed unanimously.
Under new business Resolution # 1-32418 – Approval of PNC Bank Treasury Management Services passed unanimously. Stefania Johnson made the motion while Bob Leon seconded it. Under discussions Bursos stated that it would save the Association an average of $300 monthly. Bowers stated that the resolution bring us up to current banking methods vs. what was done in 1950. All checks now can be scanned at the administration office and deposited into our account on the same day. The account will be viewable online and also has fraud alerts. Jones stated that for bounced checks, which are very few, the fee of $35 is given to the party that issued the check.
John Palmisano asked the question that if a member owned multiple properties was a discount given on their dues. Jones stated no, they were charged the full amount, however unimproved lots are billed at a lower rate. Also, landlords pay $250 per property annually on top of their dues.
Bill Henry stated that we were 5 weeks from the new fiscal year and he has not received an invoice. Jones stated that the bill will go out after the April 14th meeting and the homeowner will have 30 days to pay. However, everyone is welcomed to pay now. Henry stated the website is out of date when it comes to dues and that it appears that ELA owes him $1,000. Jones stated that Preferred Management hosts our website so our office staff cannot update it.
Linda Shuey had an issue with the call to meeting notice where it asked the membership to approve the budget. She was concerned that the membership was not properly notified that the meeting was for a dues increase. Jones stated that the notice did state that there was a dues increase being voted on. Johnson stated “duly noted”. Shuey stated that an email blast should go out for the landlords meeting. Shuey agreed with Spiotta the board had a huge fiscal responsibility and that we do need a dues increase but the budget costs for the bar and grill are at $74K. In her opinion the board members are not good stewards of her money. Shuey stated that it isn’t enough for the board to say “we spent all your money, now give us more.” The board is not showing fiscal responsibility. Johnson stated that what is on budget is what it is costing at the grill. Looking at the salaries, although it is high it is what it takes. The budget for the grill includes one full time cook with benefits, one server and one dish washer. Johnson warned the membership not to get caught up on the grill. Money is needed for our infrastructure and we should have $1.5 M in reserves.
Louise Leon reminded the room that she was on the board in 2010 and she stated the board was on track. She was insulted by two separate families after she was off the board. One accused her of stealing funds and another asked her in the parking lot as to why they did not get their roads paved. She feels the board is doing a fabulous job. Leon bought her home for the pools and the lakes and she sits quietly when people say they want to close the pool.
Ange Noonan advised the board to ignore social media. She noticed that no one from the board commented on social media. Spiotta stated that they were not allowed to and that there were not “educated comments” on social media. Jones stated that the ELA website runs out of room unless something is deleted and that it was cheaper to have Preferred Management host our site. Noonan said that see has also seen an increase in members using the grill every week. She feels if we give it a chance it will succeed. Finally she stated she was away during the snow but was happy when she returned that her road was plowed.
Darren Johnson stated that he was frustrated, and a dues increase was needed. The problem in ELA happened over the last 40 years. Members in the room, who have been on past boards are abject failures. Their boards were not fiscally responsible and will be held accountable. Social media is ignorant. Mr. Johnson told a story of a boom that he and his wife heard in their home. Their heating system went out and had to be replaced for $6K. They changed insurance companies and it wasn’t covered. The lessons he learned was never to buy into an HOA and have a reserve fund. He further stated there is a political agenda on social media. He cannot sell his home at this time and he did not want his wife to run for the board again. We are all losers if the dues increase doesn’t pass.
Tony Arcy asked why the preliminary budget had $58K for lifeguards. Jones stated that was for pool attendants. Mr. Arcy also questioned the $66K salary for the cook and was told that the cook does not make that much. If she did Jones would want the job since it is more than she makes. Arcy also asked what would open first, the indoor or the outdoor pool. He felt that the indoor pool being closed affected the traffic at the bar and grill.
Margaret Fitzgerald was disappointed that there was no treasurer’s report. Last week she has dinner at the grill and enjoyed herself. Nicole and staff did an outstanding job. Fitzgerald would like to see projects completed. Fitzgerald commented that the renovations on the community center under Buz, were completed and look wonderful. She is frustrated and finds it mind numbing that there was no treasurer’s report. Fitzgerald stated that speech after speech beat up the membership sitting on this side of the table.
Buz Whelan asked about the hourly fees for the attorney that we are paying as of December 9th. Jones stated that that was a right to know request so Caldwell stated $260/hour which is all inclusive and includes litigation. Whelan further stated that he has not missed a meeting since June of 2005 and that he appreciates how hard the board works but never once during the 6 years he was on the board did he tell the membership how hard he worked or lectured them on how they should behave. He said that we (members) are adults. We come to these meetings to be informed, not to listen to the directors demonstrate their keen grasp of the obvious by telling us we are all in this together, our property values are affected and so on. We don’t need to sit through 15 minutes of directors patting themselves and each other on the back during every meeting. Whelan agreed with Fitzgerald that Johnson should have reported on how much did we collect in dues, delinquencies. A modified treasurer’s report should have been given. He recommended that at the dues increase meeting on April 14th, brief remarks should be given so that people are not voting in the dark.
Earl Frank stated that according to the Pocono Journal the township attorney fees are $160 to $165 an hour. Jones told him that there is a difference in a township attorney and an HOA attorney. Frank further stated that in previous budgets the bar and grill was budgeted at $30 to $35K. In the current budget it is up to $70K. He cannot see why the cost doubled since we always had a cook. Jones stated that the grill will never make money. The question is how much money are we willing to spend to keep it open.
Margaret Fitzgerald also stated that the new POS system was right on target. Jones said she will congratulate staff since they usually do not receive them from the public. Fitzgerald stated that she did let staff know of her good experience. Caldwell added that she wished Fitzgerald was there for the numerous events such as Valentine’s day, Christmas and New Year. The events would have knocked her socks off.
Stefania, as treasurer spoke that she agreed with Fitzgerald and Whelan regarding the treasurer’s report. She just did not want to give out numbers that were potentially wrong. Overall the numbers were right, but the allocations were wrong. As treasurer she is responsible for those numbers and does not want to be held responsible if they are incorrect. Johnson anticipated revised financials for December, January and February within the next two weeks.
Linda Shuey requested that an email blast go out letting the membership know that the vote on April 14th is for a $200 dues increase. Jones said they would discuss it in executive session.
Buz Whelan suggested that whatever programs we have for ensuring emergency access to our disabled during snow events be made public.
Spiotta stated that people abuse that privilege.
Our new accountant is Tom Mugan who worked for the City of New York. Jones stated that Mugan had a super analytical mind and that he was tightening things up.
Emerald Lakes Special Board of Director’s Meeting, March 10, 2018
by Kathy Leslie-Whelan
The meeting was called to order at 9:35 am. Four board members were present with Diane Caldwell joining the meeting by phone. Absent were Stefania Johnson and Jake Bower. Following the pledge of allegiance, Al Leslie immediately turned the floor over to Brad Jones who explained the association’s dire need for a dues increase. If no dues increase is approved by the membership, Mr. Jones stated that there would be no major road repairs or infrastructure work. The bar and grill would be eliminated and less money would go into the reserves. Instead of $500K, less than $250K would be going into reserves. After reworking of the numbers, the budget includes provisions for keeping the compactor open.
Mr. Jones highlighted the preliminary budget figures as follows:
Item w/Increase w/o increase
Maintenance $613,900 Same
Public Safety $152,410 Same
Rec/Pools/Lake $109,502 Same
Administration $477,746 Same
Community Center $213,483 $56,840
Insurance $88, 845 Same
Utilities $65,800 Same
Real Estate Tax $4,000 Same
TOTAL $2,302,495 $1,908,695
On April 14th, a special meeting will be held to address the dues increase. On Monday, March 12th a call to meeting notice will be mailed to the membership which will include a copy of the preliminary budget approved by the board, a copy of the board approved collection policy and payment plan. In addition to the mailing of this notice, numerous email blast will go out as well as various posting in the community. All board members present gave their reasons for the need for this increase.
Under new business 5 resolutions were passed. They are:
Resolution 1-31018 Preliminary Operating and Capital Budget Approval
Bob Leon made the motion to approve this resolution. Dave Bursos seconded the motion. Four members voted yes and the motion passed.
Resolution 2-31018 Collection Policy
This resolution approved the 6 month payment plan with a $150. delinquency fee. This policy eliminated the quarterly payments and set the payment schedule at $200/month for the first 6 months with a monthly administration fee of $10. If any payment is late a $150 delinquency fee will be added with 1.25% per month interest fee. The $50/year discount for paying up front was eliminated.
Bob Leon made the motion to approve this resolution. Diane Caldwell seconded the motion. Three board members and the Chair, Al Leslie voted yes on this resolution with Dave Bursos abstaining from the vote.
Resolution 3-31018 Payment Plan
This resolution established dates for the 6 month payment plan having the first payment due on May 30th, 2018. All payments must be received by October 30, 2018. This plan includes a $10/month administrative fee, $150. delinquency fee and a 1.25% interest fee. If a member keeps up with the payment plan his total dues would add up to $1,260. Bob Leon made the motion to approve this resolution. Diane Caldwell seconded the motion. Three board members and the Chair, Al Leslie voted yes on this resolution with Dave Bursos abstaining from the vote.
Resolution 4-31018 Notice and Call to Special Meeting to Vote on 2018-2019 Fiscal Budgets
This resolution set the date for the special meeting as April 14th. Bob Leon made the motion to approve this resolution. Diane Caldwell seconded the motion. Four members voted yes and the motion passed.
Resolution 5-31018 Establish the Date of Record for Members in Good Standing for the Special Meeting to Vote on the 2018-2019 Fiscal Budgets
This resolution established a date of record as March 31, 2018, for members to be up to date on paying their dues to be considered a member in good standing. This resolution follows our bylaws, which state that the member must be paid up to date 15 days prior to the vote. Bob Leon made the motion to approve this resolution. Diane Caldwell seconded the motion. Four members voted yes and the motion passed.
Vanessa Saunders-Hamilton asked if there were any mismanagement problems with the budget and was that why they eliminated the quarterly payments. According to Mr. Jones, the 6 month payment plan gave the board the ability to accomplish certain work where there was a small window of time to complete. This included road and drainage work, outdoor pool and lake work. Jones stated that the bulk of work that needed to be completed was done before November and that they had a 4 to 5 month window of opportunity to complete work.
Buz Whelan said he and most of the people in the room agree there is a need for a dues increase and perhaps Mr. Jones is correct that it really should be as much as $500. But that is not doable so the $200 is fine. But, Whelan added, in spite of all the talk about fiscal responsibility, he questions certain numbers. Last year maintenance salaries were budgeted at $208,925, this year $255,000. This is an increase of 22%. As of December 31, 2017 the bar made $17,682.95 while the grill lost $39,334. Yet in the new budget the grill salaries and benefits total $88,243 with the total cost at approximately $113,000. This is no small number and could significantly contribute to reserves if we close the grill. Should the increase fail, it makes no sense to close both the bar and grill since the bar actually makes money, as much as $23,000 this year. Whelan added that from 1975 to 2012 we operated without a grill. Mr. Jones agreed that this was something to look at.
Eileen Avrich commented on the pot luck dinner that were held at the Community Center (CC) and that the costs of planned functions should be coming out of the Event’s committee budget and not the CC budget. She further stated that we should charge a fee to the membership that has garbage picked up at their properties since the trucks were driving on and damaging our roads. Mr. Jones stated that he sees the value in that idea, however, there is a gray area in the legal system. Finally, Avrich requested that we increase our maintenance staff to plow and mow membership homes for a fee. Mr. Jones stated that there were insurance issues with that idea.
Mr. Wharton wanted to know what guarantee would the board give that there will not be another request for a dues increase next year if this increase passes. Mr. Jones stated that there was no guarantee. A reserve study by an Engineering firm is currently under review by the board which addresses the conditions of our infrastructure. Currently our annual dues should be around $1,700.
Chris Claude wanted to know when a hard copy of the budget would be available to the membership Mr. Jones stated it would be included in the call to meeting notification. Claude further asked if line item on the budget would be included. He was told no since it contain sensitive items such as salaries. A copy of last year’s budget will be included in the mailing so that the membership can understand the budget and where the money was going. Mr. Jones stated that the budget is based on a 75% compliance rate.
Carol DeMarco wanted to know when she can see the package for the special meeting and was told 30 days prior to the meeting date. She also told Mr. Jones that the roads this winter are aces over last year and that it was a pleasure to hear from the board.
Kathy Leslie Whelan inquired if there was still going to be an open board meeting in March since we have the special meeting today and the special meeting on April 14th. Al Leslie responded that there will be an open meeting on the fourth Saturday in March.
Tom Thomason from Blueberry Estates stated he was on a budget and cannot afford to pay an increase. He said that the distribution of money is not fair for the people living in his area. Caldwell responded that the court ordered his area to be part of the association and although she is sympathetic to his concerns, he and his family can enjoy the amenities if they choose to. Since he lives on township roads the association cannot supply security or maintenance to the roads. Caldwell said that we are all in this together and we need to keep up the infrastructure and home values intact.
Eileen Avrich stated that when we have a dues increase meeting, sometimes the crowd is argumentative. She recommended handing out index card to the membership to ask any questions they had.
Hector Gonzales wanted to know where we were at with the delinquent accounts. Mr. Jones stated that the collection agency collected $60K in the first two months and that last year $285K was collected. Mr. Gonzales stated that we must work together and work with the budget you have. Mr. Jones responded that the budget was bare bones and that all the fat was cut out of the budget.
by Kathy Leslie-Whelan
The meeting was called to order at 9:40 am. All board members were present. Following the pledge of allegiance, Caldwell immediately called for a motion to approve the January minutes. The minutes were accepted unanimously.
Caldwell did not give a President’s message, stating the meeting would be held off agenda. Stefania Johnson started with the Treasurer’s report.
(Money is reported on as Fiscal Year to Date)
Administration $41.9K [sic] over budget
Public Safety $1,500 over budget due to camera expenses
Maintenance $10,600 over budget due to purchase of salt and truck expenses
Community Center $9,600 over budget due to maintenance
Bar and Grill $21,200 over budget due to food and beverage purchases, printing of new menus and additional food purchases for the holiday functions.
Delinquent collections December through January are at $37K for Sunrise Collection and $30K attributed to the amnesty program.
Cash on Hand – $203,200
Al Leslie made the motion to accept the Treasurer’s report, Bob Leon seconded the motion and it was approved unanimously.
At this point in time Brad Jones and Laura Jones (no relation) addressed the room. Mr. Jones stated that we were not going to talk about the budget today since they needed to hammer out certain details. He would like to see the budget up to 100% accurate mathematically. The discussion on the budget was tabled for a couple of days. The board would meet in a few days and then it would be given to Finance and Planning (F&P) for review. The meeting for the membership was postponed to early April. The dues assessment date may also be moved to May 15th. Mr. Jones stated that they are trying to stretch our dollars. At this point in time Dave Borsos interjected that since the board wanted to take into account the feedback received from the membership during the two preliminary budget meetings.
A member, Mr. Reed from Glade Drive, asked what the board was doing about delinquent accounts, and what was the increase being voted on. He has been in the community for 14 years and enjoys the amenities. He was told that the dues increase being requested is $200/yr and that the board is aggressively looking at collections.
Christine Robertson of Minsi Trails stated she was new and asked if the board could introduce themselves when they addressed the room. At that time we went into Director’s comments.
After Dave Borsos introduced himself, director Jake Bower also introduced himself and stated that everyone on the board is a volunteer and that we need more volunteers to make this community successful. Al Leslie introduced himself and stated that he has been on board for 10 years and yes, there will be bingo tonight.
Diane Caldwell stated that she appreciates everyone that comes out. She said that everyone on the board works hard doing everything to draw people out so that you will know what is going on. Her seat is coming up in August and she has not made the decision as to whether she will run again.
Treasurer Stefania Johnson stated that she has been the treasurer for two years, and it is a difficult position. She said that at every open meeting she conveyed to the membership that our financial condition is at a critical stage. She further said that our home values are affected by our amenities. Her position is also up in August and she has not decided if she will run again. Johnson further went on to urge the membership to be open and to get the facts and not others’ perception. Membership should be looking at the actual facts and all questions should be directed to the board to obtain the facts.
Gilda Spiotta stated that she moved here in 2004 and loves this community. There is good, bad and ugly but she focuses on the good. She is not a full time resident yet but she spends her weekends here. She is open to intelligent communication. She further stated that she heard our concerns at the preliminary budget meeting, and changes are being made. She also hoped to see people at the Valentine’s Day festivities later that night.
Bob Leon stated that new mailboxes were being ordered where the post office will install locks. They will be at Glade Drive and the Estates. Currently there are 29 families that need mail boxes.
Under the Manager’s report, Laura Jones thanked everyone for coming out to the two preliminary budget forums. She stated that we listened and heard the membership and will make changes to the budget. Our small game of chance application was denied due to the guidelines that are set but she feels that we fit in under the civic group category. She is asking our attorney and plans on appealing that decision.
Currently the reserve study that was prepared by an engineering firm is being evaluated and a meeting will be held to go over the items. Ms Jones explained that a reserve study is a living document and changes all the time. The example she gave was that if a roof had to be replaced every 20 years, that item would be changed to 20 years out once the work was completed.
On February 20th, Ms. Jones was notified by our insurance carrier that a new inspection will be done on March 7th on our pool area and we were instructed we could not touch that area. Our insurance carrier is trying to subrogate the claim and hold the installer of the air hauling system responsible for the damage. Jones further stated that they had a problem with the phones in the administration building and were not able to change the outgoing message. Frontier was called in and they were able to change the message that identifies the correct hours of operation and staff names and extensions. Jones updated the membership on the collections. Between December 4th and January 3rd, Sunrise Collections collected $37K and $33K was collected under the amnesty program. In addition, 11 delinquent members agreed to a payment plan due to the amnesty program. These 11 members are now in good standing. Jones reminded the membership that walk-in Wednesday is between the hours of 1 and 3 pm. If you cannot meet with her on a Wednesday she will still meet with you via an appointment. The membership was urged to keep that appointment, especially if Jones has to stay past her regularly scheduled hours.
At this point in time Leon requested that we start to receive numbers for the people who are on plan, have paid through Sunrise etc. He also requested that the 4 digit phone extensions be made public.
Darryl Gamble spoke on the specifics of the new mail boxes that will be installed. There will be three clusters ordered at $1,200 each. Each cluster box has 16 mail slots so we will have extra boxes for any new residents. Two clusters will be installed at Glade Drive and one installed in the Estates. Our maintenance team will install the units with the post office installing the keys. The units will be color coordinated to match the current clusters.
Committee Chair reports started with Earl Frank of F&P. He had no comment at this time since he just received the December statement. Linda Shuey spoke for the maintenance committee. This committee had two recommendations to the board. First motion pertained to the humidity in the indoor pool area. The committee recommended that the humidity be monitored and the data analyzed. Actions need to be taken to limit the humidity. Application of ‘cover free’ was recommended based on information obtained by Strand Pool. A physical cover was researched but the cost for this cover was $10K. Caldwell asked for safety information on this product before the board takes up the discussion on utilizing this product. Spiotta had concerns that this chemical was safe for women. The second recommendation was that the H coil for the pool should be ordered, since we need the part, and not wait for the insurance company to conclude their research. Ms. Jones stated that since it is a custom piece it is not wise to order since the insurance company may deem that this part is not a correct part and may have caused the damage. Right now the insurance company is stating that they believe the cleanup of this incident is covered but not the air handler itself.
Jake Bower for Real Estate spoke of the landlord’s responsibility to relay information to renters and that another landlord meeting will be scheduled so that the committee can hear their concerns.
Chair Diane Caldwell recognized Buz Whelan to speak on F&P issues. Mr. Whelan said he had three points. The first was that our bylaws clearly state that the notification of special meeting and the annual meeting be in member’s hands no later than 30 days prior to meeting date, not post marked 30 days before. Brad Jones agreed saying this was part of his reasoning to move the meeting to April. Whelan then said that most speakers at the Saturday – Monday meeting prefaced their remarks by saying they supported the budget increase or grudgingly supported its need. The main complaint was on the cancellation of quarterly payments and the excessive charges for the pay over time plan. Whelan suggested that assuming the dues increase passes, a small surcharge could be added as administrative costs. Members could be charged $10 for each payment or $310 total. This would be reasonable. At this point, Brad Jones said that Buz was getting into his head and he agreed with a similar policy. Whelan’s final point was on the reactivation fee of $25 per membership card for delinquents being restored to good standing. That would be a total of $250 since we are issued 10 cards. Laura Jones said she would change the wording to $25 per household, one fee for all cards.
New members were welcomed to the community there were 11 new home purchases and 5 foreclosures and sheriff sales.
Under Old Business Al Leslie made a motion to approve Resolution 2-12718 – Rental Policies, Short and Long Term. It was seconded by Spiotta. Borsos made an amendment to the resolution under short term rentals that it stated 30 days or fewer. Resolution passed unanimously with the amendment.
Under New Business all resolutions were tabled since they pertained to the budget. They were:
Resolution 1-22418 Preliminary Operating and Capital Budget Approval
Resolution 2-22418 Collection Policy
Resolution 3-22418 Payment Plan
Resolution 4-22418 Notice and Call to Special Meeting to Vote on 2018-2019 Fiscal Budgets
Resolution 5-22418 Establish the Date of Record for Members in Good Standing for the Special Meeting to Vote on 2018-2019 Fiscal Budgets
Linda Shuey stated she was in favor of the $200 increase but she had a problem with the budget and payment plan. She stated that the bar and grill should pay for itself. She further stated that Bob and Lola Lauri got the bar and grill to where it cost us a little over $100 a month, so expenditures need to be controlled. Treasurer Johnson said that the budget included staff. Electricity and propane were included on other lines. There is $87K budgeted for the bar and grill. Johnson conceded that the cost should be covered by what is an acceptable cost to operate that amenity.
Donna Brown stated that they had their property since ’76 and have always voted for a dues increase. She fears that some of the comments on Facebook are mean spirited and that we need to work together. Some Facebook comments seem to be coming from petulant 12 year olds. She further stated that she understands what it’s like to have a thankless job and that she still cleans up the mailbox area on Glade Drive.
Chris Claude announced that he will be running for the board in August. He had three recommendations for the board. 1) Board should over communicate what is going on. Meeting should be videotaped and put on website. Time to act is now. 2) It would be nice to know the number of delinquent accounts with Sunrise. What are the number of people who are not paying their dues? The board needs to be more transparent. 3) Since the budget distribution is being delayed since it is not approved, how long will it take to get approved? Mr. Jones commented that it would take 7-10 days.
Christine Robertson thanked all for volunteering and she would also like to see videotaping since so many of the membership cannot attend meetings. In addition she would like the meeting held down to a couple of hours. Caldwell responded that she tries to be fair and let people speak so she limited it to two minutes. She is damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t. She gets criticized about social media but she was advised not to speak out on the unofficial Facebook page. She does not want to create a libelous situation. She would like to video tape the meeting so that the membership can hear what is said instead of someone’s perception. They are looking into the videotaping but they also need a legal opinion.
Buz Whelan stated that a meeting should be as long as it takes to do the business that has to be done. He stated he felt that part of the meeting is ideas from the membership. As long as a member doesn’t repeat themselves and remains decorous, they should be allowed to speak.
Chris Claude added a comment that he was having difficulty stopping payments on his credit card for automatic quarterly payments. There was no easy way to terminate credit card payments.
By Kathy Leslie-Whelan
Monday’s budget meeting was largely a reprise of Saturday’s meeting with a few important changes.
The most dramatic change was a withdrawal of the administrative charges that increased the total owed for paying-over-time members by $350. At least for this year, General Manager Laura Jones stated the additional charges would not be levied. She added that she is not making any promises for next year. Quarterly payments remain cancelled in the proposal, and the payments must be made monthly over the first six months of the fiscal year which commences on May 1st.
Jones stuck by the March 24th date for a special meeting to vote on a $200 dues increase. Buz Whelan pointed out that our by-laws require 30 days notice of any annual or special; meeting. In order to fulfill this requirement the ‘Call to Meeting’ would have to be mailed no later then February 22nd. Ms. Jones disagreed and stated that association counsel told her February 24th mailing would be sufficient.
Speaking for Finance and Planning (F&P), Chairperson Earl Frank insisted there were ways to reduce costs and increase income without closing the community center or compactors. He especially objected to the change in delinquency collection pointing out that our previous collector averaged $265K over the last three years while only $150K is currently projected as the annual total from all new sources. He also pointed to a $60K cost of operating the grill (expense minus income) and excessive cost in maintenance department salaries.
Jones stated the budget is based on a 75% compliance rate. She further stated that according to our auditor we are collecting only 60%. F&P chair challenged that number since we are currently billing out at $1.925M and are collecting $1.450M. Those numbers represent a 75% collection rate.
Many of the membership questioned why they could not have a hard copy of the preliminary budget that was projected on a screen. The numbers projected were not large enough for the membership to see. Jones responded that since the board has not approved it, she could not distribute it. She further said that another meeting will be held in early March where hard copies of the budget will be distributed to the attendees. This document will also be available at the administration building after the open board meeting on Saturday, February 24th. It will also be posted on the official ELA website.
Regarding the compactor, one possibility suggested by Jones was a pay-for-use. Annual or monthly charges could be levied rather than closing the facility. No dollar amount on these charges was mentioned. According to Jones we pay $170K annually for the compactors. Pay-for-use services would only be implemented in the event that the dues increase fails.
One interesting trend at the meeting was that virtually all speakers agreed that a dues increase was needed and probably overdue. It was the way money is being spent, the choices made that was the focus of the objectors.