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November 1, 2014 Monthly Open Meeting

Lola Lauri

thCA3ZBTNPOur board has been very busy in the last month, working on all the issues and concerns that come with running our community. These include, but are not limited to, the membership review, the condition of the roads, the excessive legal fees we have incurred this year, rental restrictions within the community, the replacement of the maintenance building, and the expenses of the Emerald Bar and Grill. Much information was given throughout this month’s meeting about each of these topics. Rather than skip back and forth to each topic, I will present each separately and then list the other issues that were brought up.
Membership Review
imagesCAVDSRC8Upon the disclaiming of the audit at our Annual Meeting, the general membership has become aware of the discrepancy between who we have listed as our members and what the county records show. The Board is working with the attorney to reconcile these. Brad Jones reported that the Attorney Hoffman could not meet the October 31st deadline for his opinion on the membership review, and was requesting an additional two weeks to complete his research. Hoffman would be willing to attend the November 14th meeting in person (at no additional charge) to answer questions and clarify concerns. Diane Caldwell clarified that the delay was due to information that is not available online but only at the courthouse. Jones felt that having the lawyer present would be a good idea since he could answer their questions and concerns directly at the meeting. The Board voted 5-2 to accept the attorney’s request.
Before approving the audit, Buz Whelan wanted to clarify for the membership the meaning of the “disclaimed” audit. He explained that although the auditors chose to disclaim this year’s audit, they did so because of the discrepancy between the county records and our records, and that they found no irregularities or difficulties in obtaining the information needed to perform the audit. When describing certain “misstatements” in our records, they were referring to their preferences in the way we record certain information. Each auditor has preferences for the way information is recorded, but these are not necessarily right or wrong. Whelan wanted to stress that this disclaimer was not an indication of any wrongdoing on anyone’s part. Brad Jones noted that all 7 recommendations of the auditors were resolved. The treasurer’s report by Buz Whelan included an example of one of the changes and how it effects our budget. He reported that the Administration department has exceeded its YTD budget by $61k, but explained that part of the difference may be attributed to changes in the way we record our collections accounts. Previously, we would not count the attorney’s collection fees as income since we never actually see this money (he is paid by the delinquent account holder as part of the collection fees). Our new auditor would like to see that money recorded as income and then the fees portion as an expense to the lawyer. The resolution to approve the audit passed.

Road Repair and Maintenance

Road crews on Rt. 940, hard at work in the cold rain.

Road crews on Rt. 940, hard at work in the cold rain.

Brad Jones, Robert Lauri and Bob Leon completed a road survey and developed a plan for road maintenance. Robert Lauri addressed two main issues at the meeting; grading and plowing. He supplied the audience with pictures from the road survey showing alligator cracks, seams and potholes. Mr. Lauri said that the water that collects in the roadways causes the cracks and then our current plowing procedures rip up the uneven asphalt. He warned that the weather here ensures that we will always have road issues and that the goal is to preserve the safety of our members and the integrity of our roads for as long as possible. Their plan is to complete “scalping” of the edges of all the roads to direct the water away from the roads. “It’s going to be ugly,” he said, “but it has to be done. Without proper drainage, our roads are doomed.” He assured everyone that the grass and weeds would grow back quickly, and that our roads would be better for it. He also stressed that they must work to communicate to the membership what is being done and why. Lauri would also like to seal the seams in the roads (but not the alligator cracks; he believes those are beyond saving).
The plowing portion of the plan includes marking unpaved roads and adding and using shoes on the plows set above the ground to avoid tearing up the roads. He said that training the plow operators in proper “pushback” procedures will also help ensure that the snowmelt drains off of the roads.
Lauri turned the subject over to Brad Jones who recommended that the Board approve the community-wide grading project. He had one bid for $2,340 per day (using our staff to supplement the work by cleaning up and carrying out the materials removed by the scalping), with a worst-case estimate of 3 miles per day completed. He stated this would cost at most $28k, which would come from funds already budgeted for the roads. After some discussion about other companies to solicit for bids, Lauri made a motion to accept up to $30k in expenses for this project. The motion passed 6-0 (June Solla left the meeting early for an emergency). Since the roads were being addressed, Diane Caldwell interjected a plea on behalf of the Blueberry Estates residents for management to contact Pocono township regarding the roads in that area. She said there are potholes the size of the conference room tables there and no one will work on the roads. George Haab added that Powderhorn Drive also has enormous potholes that should be addressed.

Legal Fees
public-domain-clipart41[1]In his treasurer’s report, Buz Whelan expressed his concern with our mounting legal fees. Whelan pointed out that our other attorney’s fees (not the collections attorney) are a large part of the increased expenses in the Administration department. The Association has spent $29k on legal opinions from our attorney in just the past 5 months. Compare that to the previous year when we spent only $6,500 for the whole year. He presented examples of advice solicited on issues that he felt could have been handled in-house by the Board and Management. They include:
$1,771 for advice on creating an absentee balloting policy for which we still have no amendment.
$1,475 for an opinion on handling social media (i.e. the unofficial Facebook page) which determined that they were unlikely to prevail in any attempts to stop the use of this page.
$1,628 for advice on member’s requests for Association documents and records.
$2,624 for an opinion on rental restrictions for the community for which the lawyer said were all unlikely to withstand any legal challenge.
Whelan said that the directors need to commit to a willingness to make many of these decisions to stem the rising legal costs. He said that abdication of a director’s responsibility by sending all these decisions to the lawyer is too expensive for us all. His suggestion is to move forward on these kinds of decisions and, if a legal challenge is presented, those would be covered by our insurance. Joseph Olall questioned Whelan’s argument by reminding him that board members are not lawyers and in fact, one of the first actions of Mr. Whelan’s former presidency on the Board was to fire an employee who then sued the association. Olall suggested that, with legal counsel, the cost of that challenge could have been avoided. Whelan stated that the only cost was to meet that employee’s contracted requirement of 30 days notice, which a lawyer’s advice would have warned us about, but the opinion itself would have cost us additional money.

Rental Restrictions
thCAXUHYV5In his Director’s comments, Whelan used the last example above to express his desire to make ELA an rental friendly community. He and Director Diane Caldwell are working on developing ways to increase the community’s income from rentals. Rather than creating restrictions to members’ ability to rent their properties, Whelan and Caldwell believe that we need to develop policies that encourage short-term rentals and bring speculators to our community who would be willing to invest in homes where they can make money through rentals. Caldwell has experience in this area and says that given the Kalahari and Aquatopia projects in our area, the time to jump on this opportunity is now. Lake Naomi has a model that allows them to split a 26% commission on rentals with the brokers. Whelan described a vision of a rental office that advertises and manages rentals for the landlords of the community and collects the commissions for the community. He states that landlords pay dues at a higher percentage than other members because their livelihood depends on being able to offer their renters the amenities that our community provides. Both admit that there is a need to protect other members from the problems that short-term renters sometimes bring, but do not see that as an impossible challenge to surmount considering the potential return for the Association.
Construction of Maintenance Building
under-construction-sign-hi[1]Construction on the new maintenance building and storage shed has been delayed because of permit issues (the township requires a handicapped accessible bathroom and parking space). Delivery should happen on November 4th, and they will build the cinder bins first, while they work on the permit for the main building. Dan Glasgow explained that the original building was built without a permit and thus could not be grandfathered in for an exception to these requirements. They are trying to get the township to approve a plan to bring the bathroom in the existing building up to the standard since it is close enough to the other building to qualify.
Emerald Grill

I "heart" Creamy Tomato Basil Soup.

I “heart” Creamy Tomato Basil Soup.

Manager Judy Kennedy has been working along with Robert Lauri to train the bartenders and to address problems with the POS. Sales for Friday night party were $847, a significantly higher than average, and he was confident that expenses would continue to dwindle and service will improve.
Whelan broke out the Bar and Grill in the treasurer’s report and described the income verses expenses of its operation. He pointed out that although the B&G is $17k over budget, the month of September showed a smaller loss ($2,200 versus an average of $3,700) than the first 4 months of the year. He is confident that the work being done by Preferred Management and the assistance provided by Robert Lauri will continue to bring these costs down. When asked what he would consider an acceptable cost for this amenity, Whelan said he believes that between $1k and $1.5k per month would be a reasonable expectation. For comparison, he noted that the outdoor pool costs approximately $4k/month to operate and he believes that it serves fewer members.

Changes in Scheduled Meetings
putthis_on_calendar_clip_art[1]President Dan Glasgow talked about the schedule changes for upcoming meetings of the board. November 14th will be a workshop, dedicated to the issue of the membership review. December 5th will be a regular workshop meeting, and December 13th will be a combination open meeting.

Treasurer’s Report
In addition to those items discussed above, Treasurer Buz Whelan presented the financials as of 9/30/14. He compared current numbers to last year’s and described several negative trends. We have collected $96,500 less in dues than the same period from last year, spent $169k more in expenses, have a cash balance of $110k less, and a reserve balance of $36.5k less than last year. He also mentioned that our New Capital balance is $29k lower than last year, but mentioned that the money went to needed repairs and as such is not a concern.
Maintenance is under budget, due mainly to work that has yet to be done, and Public Safety is on budget. The Community Center is under budget by almost $12k due to a decrease in salaries.
Manager’s Report
Manager Judy Kennedy stated that, once approved, the completed audit will be available at the office and on the website. They have begun work on an Emergency Management plan and, as part of that effort, some of the staff has received first aid training and others are scheduled for that training in the future. Digital time clocks have been installed for tracking staff hours. The fire extinguishers in the Community Center have been repaired and charged. She noted that the HVAC was not cooling during the Cancer Awareness event and she thanked everyone for their patience and their participation in the event. Kennedy also noted that the new digital system in the pool says that the water is at 83 degrees, even though some members insist it is not. The broken pool table has been replaced with a pay-for-play model installed and maintained by an outside vendor. The community will split evenly the $1 per game revenue with the vendor. The sauna and septic repairs at the Community Center will be completed next week. In response to a request from a member at last month’s meeting, each management report will be available to members both at the office and on the website after its approval by the board.
beaverAt the workshop, the Board discussed the beavers and decided that no action would be taken at this time. Robert Lauri, who was absent from the workshop due to a death in the family, stated that while he does not wish to undermine a decision made by the Board, he would like to consider the long-range negative effects that the beavers may cause to our waterways and common property before dismissing this as simply a responsibility of the members themselves. Glasgow read an article written last year by Director Millie Bishop for the Emerald News. Bishop said that beavers can have positive effects on the environment as well, noting that when the beavers were eliminated Lower Deer Lake began to dry up and so the board at the time decided to repopulate the area.
Bank Signatories
Next, the board voted to approve four officers as signatories for the ELA accounts. These are Dan Glasgow, Robert Lauri, Buz Whelan and Millie Bishop. Earl Frank asked if the general manager should also be a signatory, but the Board decided not to include them at this time.
Address the Board Policy
Brad Jones had a first draft of the policy for handling the letters sent to the “Address the Board” section of the website. He expressed concern about the timeline for replies and suggested that management be given the discretion to respond to simple procedural requests and save the Board from dealing with the more trivial questions. Diane Caldwell expressed concern that a registered letter was sent to the office that contained seven separate sealed letters for each member of the board. She said she believes this is a federal offense, and should not be accepted. The Board agreed to discuss these changes at the workshop in December.
Committee Reports
Reporting for the maintenance committee, Bob Leon reported that they have concerns about the performance of compliance officer Ralph Musto, who apparently issued a permit for a resident to build on Association property. He believes this is the equivalent of giving away property and it opens us up to legal concerns.
Louise Leon thanked the Board and Management company on behalf of the Adult Water Aerobics club.
Earl Frank submitted a list of 9 recommendations from the F&P committee (he did not read them), and noted that the collections attorney has done a good job with collections on past due accounts so far this year.
Stefania Johnson reported that the Events committee is waiting on a response from the board regarding their recommendation for an electronic sign. They are also changing the ELA Dancing with the Stars event to ELA’s Got Talent, to allow for a broader range of acts. The tentative date for this event is January 17th. She thanked everyone involved in the Halloween Haunted House and the other Halloween events in the community. The committee is looking to bring back a monthly Dance Party and a monthly kids movie event at the CC. They are finalizing plans for a Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas tree decoration party. They are in discussions with Buz Whelan regarding an event in February and they would like to declare the entire month to be Heart Disease Awareness month.
For Crimewatch, Connie Simpson wanted to thank all who were involved in managing the Halloween Trunk or Treat.
Joseph Olall expressed his concern with the delay in holding a Communications Committee meeting. Judy Kennedy explained that since she had gotten no response to her emails to Mr. Olall, she went ahead and set a meeting date for October 25th but, upon getting no confirmation from Olall himself, and having received several cancellations and then finding out that some people who had wanted to participate were never informed of the meeting in the first place, she and Liaison Buz Whelan decided to postpone the meeting until November 8th.
Diane Caldwell said that she would contact Mark Davis and work to set up the first meeting of the Real Estate Committee.
Public Comments
attention_clipart1Carmen Brodnax asked if the Board had approved outside advertising of the Haunted House in the Community Center. The Board was unaware of any outside advertising.
Cathy Leach was concerned that adding shoes to the plows would increase costs for cinders. Brad Jones said he did not know if that would happen, but that they were prepared to modify the plan if it did not work to their expectations.
Darren Johnson said that with the resignation of Chris Tarvin as CC manager, we had an opportunity to mold and develop a leader in a new employee. Jones agreed.
Stefania Johnson suggested a celebration for Mr. Tarvin was in order.
Mary Cavanaugh asked if the delivery of the maintenance building would interfere with compactor hours. Jones said it would not.
Gilda Spiotta re-stated her concern regarding the beavers on her property and suggested that the Game Commission would remove them for free.
Bob Leon complained that the newsletter is still not up on the webpage and that some of the kiosks are empty. He also suggested that the community should do more to advertise the rental availability of the CC.
Louise Leon was concerned that leaving snow on the roads (because of the plow shoes) would result in more accidents.
Kathy Whelan complimented everyone involved in the Cancer Awareness Day event and asked how much money was raised in total. Robert Lauri expressed his concern that a misunderstanding of some sort led to an additional cost to the Bar and Grill of $187. Buz Whelan said that it was a misunderstanding by Chris Tarvin and that it is illegal to have employees volunteering to do their own jobs.
George Haab told the Board that he would be placing a collection bin for Boy Scout Troop 94’s “Scouting for Food” campaign.
New Members
The meeting concluded with the welcoming of new members. There were 5 properties sold, 6 foreclosures sold, and one new foreclosure and one sheriff’s sale.

September 27, 2014 Monthly Open Board Meeting

Lola Lauri
Dan Glasgow opened the meeting with his President’s remarks, which seemed to be meant to set the expectations of the audience (“Hold your questions until the end, please.”) and to explain certain items listed on the agenda. After this, the board’s first order of business was to appoint a new treasurer. Millie Bishop resigned that position (but not her directorship) at the most recent workshop meeting and so, in a unanimous decision, Buz Whelan was appointed.
President’s Message
After the board approved the minutes of the July 26th, 2014 BOD meeting, President Glasgow reviewed the actions of the new board to date. He noted that the organizational meeting and the workshop meeting held were both open to the public and that, after the workshop there was an executive session to discuss the accounts of certain members. The board has set a target of October 31st with the lawyer to have a written opinion on the membership review issue, so the board should have some news on this issue in November. They have also asked for an opinion from the lawyer on the issue of association documents that were shredded and his advice on how to proceed with this matter. Glasgow stated that the community’s investment in new equipment seems to be paying off already as it is being used in several drainage and road repairs. At the workshop, the board acted to re-establish the committees to assist the board and determined the board liaisons to those committees. Finally, he announced that he will be joining our manager, Judy Kennedy, for “Walk-in lucy-peanuts-advice-190x150Wednesdays” on the third Wednesday of each month, (except that this October he will only be available on the fourth Wednesday) so that members may also use that time to approach him with their concerns. Walk-in Wednesday hours are from 1:30 to 3:30 pm at the administration building.
Treasurer’s Report
With four minutes as treasurer under his belt, Buz Whelan gave the Treasurer’s Report. He reported that our revenues (excluding the Bar & Grill) are at $796k, which represents $59k less in dues collection than at this time last year. He allowed that it is possible that more billpeople are paying dues under the quarterly option, but that cannot cover all of the difference. (Later in the meeting, former Treasurer Earl Frank suggested that there seems to be a delay in the delivery of the current quarter’s billing which might account for this difference.) Whelan then addressed some specific areas of the financial picture. Our capital reserves fund variance is accounted for by the paving of the compactor area, but future transfer fees should help restore the balance in that account and so he feels that is not a current concern. He noted that year-to-date our attorney’s fees are over $20k, which is more than the combined total of all attorney fees for the prior two years. The Public Safety and Maintenance departments are on or under budget. The Community Center is under budget overall, but the Bar and Grill is a different story.
Whelan noted that because the B&G is our only amenity that comes with its own revenue stream, we report on it differently than other amenities. He reported the Bar revenue versus cost at +$1,813.99, and the Grill revenue versus cost at -$13,267.86. There are certain items that are also costs that cannot be broken out into either bar or grill because they are used by both (towels, uniforms, certain supplies, etc) that totaled $3,355.50.
Bar & Grill total revenue $25,191.21
Bar & Grill total cost $40,000.58
B&G Loss $14,809.37
The bottom line of all of this is that the Bar & Grill’s combined costs to the community for the first four months of the fiscal year stand at almost $15k. Whelan commented that this is unsustainable, and must be brought under control. He told the audience that Director Robert Lauri plans to work with Preferred Management to focus extensively on this issue and complete a comprehensive analysis of the operations and use of the POS system and training of staff and will determine a future course of action to stem the bleeding.

Management Report
Manager Judy Kennedy reported on the re-establishment of the committees and plans to contact the former chairpersons and members of those committees to set up meeting times and dates for their initial meetings. At its workshop meeting, the board established liaisons for each committee, and also “co-liaisons”, whose function will be to back up the primary liaison in the event he or she cannot attend a committee meeting. Liaisons from the board were reported as follows (with co-liaisons in parentheses): Communications – Buz Whelan (June Solla), Maintenance – Robert Lauri (Buz Whelan), Events – Dan Glasgow (Millie Bishop), Finance and Planning – Buz Whelan (Millie Bishop), Nominations – June Solla (Diane Caldwell), Elections – June Solla (Diane Caldwell), Real Estate – Diane Caldwell (Alex Leslie), Rules and Regulations – June Solla (Diane Caldwell), Appeals – Alex Leslie (June Solla), Neighborhood CrimeWatch – Millie Bishop (Dan Glasgow).
Kennedy also reported that they had designed a newsletter policy for approval by the board and a variance policy as well.

Old Business
There was a discussion of outstanding issues and concerns over the C&R Landscaping contract for the new storage building. Diane Caldwell asked if the revised contract had been signed and if it contained pricing on the doors and warranty information. June Solla questioned who was responsible for the debris left from the clearing of the site. Brad Jones, of Preferred Management, replied that he would ensure that the contract contained the requested language and information and that the debris was the responsibility of C&R. He maintains that the building is “two weeks out” and that a township building permit was being sought.
Director Caldwell, citing POS summary reports, expressed concern over the daily cash discrepancies. She reported that on various daily reports she found cash discrepancies of up to $55 over, and $33 short and that these kinds of discrepancies seem to be happening with some regularity and are not acceptable. She also described an incident when she arrived at the Center and there were several employees “hanging out” at the front desk, playing loud music. When she asked them to turn down the music the response was “Who the hell are you?” Robert Lauri discussed a similar experience he had seen where a member wanted to swim but there appeared to be no lifeguard even though the pool should have been opened and staffed. Lauri and Preferred Management agreed to examine all these issues and Lauri asked that members report their good and bad experiences at the Community Center so that they may be considered when designing procedures and policies to improve service there.

New Business
Robert Lauri asked that Preferred Management work on designing a comprehensive Emergency Management Plan that would make the Community Center available to the membership in certain situations, including the recent school closings during the police manhunt in our area and during storms and other emergencies. Cookie Lietwinski said that there was a committee to work on this but that it had fallen through the cracks.
Diane Caldwell asked that October be designated Cancer Awareness Month for ELA. June Solla made the motion, Buz Whelan seconded and it was passed unanimously.

Director’s Comments
Robert Lauri suggested that the Nominations Committee be tasked with putting together a packet to inform candidates for the board of the duties, obligations, and expectations of the job. He pointed out that the bylaws only say that a candidate must be 21 years of age and a member-in-good-standing and that this does not give any indication of the scope of the job.
June Solla stated that she and many members of the board and the community are cancer survivors and that October 11th will be Cancer Awareness Day at the Community Center. Activities will include a Survivor’s breakfast (all are invited to attend), kids activities, afternoon Bingo, a dinner and a show that will include local performers Lady A and Mike Gregorio, followed by lighting of luminaries on the CC lawn. There will also be a gift basket raffle, and she is looking for donations of baskets. All the money raised will go to the American Cancer Society and will stay in Monroe County.

Public Comments
Classroom_4_tnb[1]As is standard during the public comments portion of the meeting, several topics were discussed and brought up by different members. Rather than present the comments in chronological order, I have tried to group them together according to topics.
Ex-director Carmen Brodnax began this section of the meeting by expressing her dissatisfaction with the management report. She was concerned that current contracts and discussions were not reported on and that, although she is glad that Director Lauri is willing to involve himself in the improvement of the Bar & Grill, she feels that Preferred Management is not doing their part in this matter. Brodnax also mentioned her concern that there are still recommendations from last year’s committees (specifically the Real Estate Committee) that have not been acknowledged or acted upon. She stated that while we know we are getting professional guidance from our lawyer (eliciting many groans from the audience), Preferred Management does not seem to her to be giving us our money’s worth.
Brad Jones replied by explaining that, since the board is just getting started for the year and has not taken any action on those items, there is nothing to report. He pointed out that as a former director, Brodnax should know the format and purpose of the management report is to update the homeowners on actions that have been taken, but that lack of new action on particular items does not mean that they are not doing work on them. He also noted that the lawyer talked about the real estate issues at the Annual Meeting and that we are waiting on information from him to proceed with addressing committee recommendations. Director June Solla interjected that there were items discussed at the workshop that were not on the agenda, and Jones answered that the board could have put those on the agenda. Ex-director Margaret Fitzgerald asked if the membership could get a copy of the management report. Jones said that he thought that could be done, but that he would have to consult with the board on how and when to provide that to those who are interested.
Joseph Olall (also an ex-director) added that he felt that Preferred Management should have had an explanation of the $4k variance shown in the financials for Waste Management, and that he feels that Preferred Management is shirking their responsibility to run the CC by allowing Director Lauri to take on this project and that the responsibility should be on the management company to bring these costs into line. Lauri replied that it is the responsibility of management to use all their resources to improve our community, and that they are doing exactly that by allowing him to use his expertise (for free) to help them identify and address those problems. Olall added that he understands that the Bar & Grill will never make money, but that there is a need to set tolerable limits to what it will cost the community. Buz Whelan agreed to the need to set acceptable limits to CC costs and said he would look into the Waste Management variance. Manager Kennedy then described the actions that she has taken in the CC to bring these costs under control, including the release of employees, the building of the POS database, and several changes in procedures. She noted that it is a long way from where they began last spring, but that there is much more work to be done and, with patience and time, we will see results.
Lee Marsland described an evening at the CC wherein a member arrived intoxicated and how the staff did a good job of handling the situation. The member was not served additional alcohol, and was escorted outside and one staff member even relieved the member of her keys. Marsland suggests that training the staff on these situations will protect them and the Association.
Bob Leon said that during the previous night the CC was “packed” and that staff member Lisa did a terrific job of managing the crowd, but that staff allocation should be considered. He said the bar was crowded and there was a large group in the dining room, but that the pool area was completely empty. He also noted the fire extinguisher in the kitchen hallway is not charged and would be useless in an emergency, the bar code reader in the front does not work and hasn’t for some time, and there are often several staff and their friends “hanging out” by the front desk, but only some are working there. Gilda Spiotta suggested that First Aid training be included in the general training of the staff since some conditions mimic the symptoms of intoxication.
Spiotta then read a letter to the board concerning the incursion of a large family of beavers at the lake near her home. She described the many health and safety concerns presented by beaverthis infestation and asked the board to consider removing them. She pointed to ELA’s stringent rules protecting our trees and said that if this concern is real, then the beavers cause much damage to those very same trees and should be removed. There followed a general discussion about previous actions the board has taken, and Millie Bishop told of a time where the beavers were removed and this also damaged the lake ecosystem and the board had to go out and purchase beavers to restore the lake. Mario Balzano opined that we need to prioritize wildlife removal and that he believes delinquent members of the Association should take priority over the removal of the beavers. The board needs to investigate the problem and find a balanced, suitable solution. Diane Caldwell suggested bringing in an Audubon Society representative to consult on this situation. Linda Shuey echoed Spiotta’s concern, adding that beavers spread bacteria that endangers members who swim in the lakes.
Bill Crowley described a night when his home alarm system was tripped and he contacted Public Safety. He felt that the officer did not respond properly to his concerns and that the community is unclear on their role. He would like the board to clarify the process of communication, execution and expectations for Public Safety. Judy Kennedy responded that the officer was a new employee, he was reprimanded and that he should expect to be contacted by Chief Cruz to clear up any misunderstandings.
Pat Galderisi (also an ex-director, from many years ago) chastised the board about the technical aspects of holding a meeting and what she felt was the board’s failure to “ratify” 3 votes taken at the workshop. There was some discussion about whether or not a vote had even been completed, and some board members looked confused as to why the matter was raised since there is no mechanism for ratifying a motion that has failed, and further, ratification of a vote is only necessary when an item needs further action from the membership to complete the approval process. The issues in question were a failed motion to approve a member’s application to build on a lake, and the failed motion to accept Alex Leslie as treasurer upon the resignation of Millie Bishop from that position. Since no action was taken, there was no motion to be ratified. Perhaps this was an attempt to humiliate Director Alex Leslie who has served our community for so many years and, in doing so, has stepped on the toes of those involved in the questioning of this matter? In another attempt to publicly “catch” the board in a technical mistake, Ms. Galderisi asked if the revision to the 2013 Annual Meeting Minutes had been made so that they could be approved by the membership. The changes had been made and it was pointed out that they could not be approved until next year’s annual meeting where, according to President Glasgow, both 2013 and 2014 Annual Meeting minutes will be presented for approval. Galderisi also stated that the delay in answering her earlier requests to the board is “bordering on obstruction” and, when told that the lawyer had not yet replied regarding her requests, she stated that if her request generated a lawyer’s review and billing then she expected the official answer to come to her in writing.
In addition to his observation that there may be a delay in the third quarter billing, ex-director Earl Frank also gave the F&P Committee recommendations to the board. They include creating a guideline for the community’s investment strategies and a monthly breakout of legal fees to indicate what issues are being addressed and their associated costs. Flo Mauri (you guessed it – another ex-director!) passed on recommendations from ELDAS members, made at their most recent meeting. These were to look at the Association’s insurance policies to see if they will help defray the deficit in our reserves account, and to create an Ad Hoc committee to investigate the destruction of Association records. Mauri also said that the she was happy to see the “tone” of the board was improving from the confrontational one she saw last year toward Preferred Management. Other members, including Linda Shuey and Kevin Marsland agreed with this sentiment.
Stefania Johnson, speaking for the Events committee, informed the audience that the “Dancing with the ELA Stars” event had to be cancelled, but that she looked forward to seeing members attend the upcoming Haunted House and Halloween party events in October.

Welcome of New Members and Adjournment
The last order of business was to welcome the new members. Diane Caldwell informed the members that there were 13 foreclosures sold, 6 new properties sold and 13 newly foreclosed properties in the past month. The meeting was adjourned at 11:32.


(Editor’s Note:  Thank you to Eileen Avrich and Gilda Spiotta for sharing their notes and observations of the meeting with me.  This was a lot of information!)

“I Abstain!” Is It Shirking Responsibility?


by Buz Whelan

   QuestionMark[1]  There are occasions when a vote of abstention is appropriate and even mandatory. When minutes of a previous meeting are put up for approval, for example, a member who did not attend that meeting must abstain. When a complicated piece of business has been examined and discussed while a member is ill, that member may not feel qualified to vote in judgment. But when a vote to abstain is cast simply because the voting member does not wish to take a public stand, that is failing to perform one’s duty.

     At the July 21, 2013 meeting of the Finance and Planning Committee a discussion centered on the cost of credit card discounting to the association. Whenever a credit card is used in a transaction there is a discount fee which varies with the card and the merchant’s agreement with the clearing house. If you paid your annual dues with a credit card and the discount rate for that card was 3.5%, the association would receive only $965 rather than the full $1,000. At this meeting it was agreed by the committee members to pass a recommendation to the board that whenever a credit card is used to pay dues, the cost of the transaction should be borne by the payer. General Manager Allan Roth was present at the meeting and soon after began seeking a vendor who would cooperate in the charge back. Eventually, he found several and prepared a packet of detailed information along with a recommendation that the company best suited to association needs was Paylease.

     Approximately one week before the October 18th board work session, the packets of information were distributed to each director’s mailbox so that they would have time to prepare for the discussion and have any questions ready for the GM to answer. At that meeting, Mr. Roth made a comprehensive presentation, explaining how the new system would work and why he felt Paylease was our best choice. At the conclusion of his presentation a discussion period ensued, with the GM answering all the directors’ questions and concerns. When no further questions were forthcoming, it was decided that a resolution would be prepared for a vote at the next weekend’s open meeting. The meeting then moved on to the next topic.

     The following day, Saturday, October 19th the Finance and Planning Committee met in the same conference room. Present as observers were several board members including President Alex Leslie and Directors June Solla and Margaret Fitzgerald. By sheer coincidence, committee member  Walter O’Neill asked the GM what had become of the credit card recommendation. Mr. Roth repeated his presentation from the day before for the benefit of the committee members. He again took questions and, as at the previous day’s meeting, the topic was exhausted and the meeting moved on.

     We now come to the October 26th open meeting. Secretary Carmen Broadnax reads the resolution regarding the new credit card policy, the chair gets a second and a vote is called. Earl Frank, Millie Bishop, Carmen Broadnax and Dan Glasgow vote in the affirmative. It is now Director Margaret Fitzgerald’s turn. She says she is abstaining because she does not have enough information. The chair calls on Director June Solla who says she is abstaining for the same reason as Ms. Fitzgerald.

     To recap, a packet of information has been given to each of these directors. They attended two successive meeting in which the change was discussed in detail. They knew the vote was coming and had a week to seek out any additional information they felt they needed. And they abstained.

     The very next vote was to endorse a change order in the amount of $11,000 for additional work needed to resolve foundational problems discovered during road paving. Again, this issue had been previously discussed, again the vote was scheduled a week in advance and again both Ms. Fitzgerald and Ms. Solla abstained.

     This is an opinion piece. It is labeled as such, and it is my opinion that these directors have failed to perform their duty. Perhaps they have an explanation that I have yet to fathom. But when detailed information is provided and sufficient time elapses without any effort to obtain whatever clarification the directors feel they need, then they are not acting responsibly.

     We elect directors to make decisions. That’s what they are supposed to do. It is their main job. Anyone can make the easy decisions that have little effect on the way the association does business. It is when difficult decisions on complex issues must be made that we separate the strong performers from the weak ones. Here are two examples of very weak performance.

December 14, 2013 Monthly Open Board Meeting

by Buz Whelan

meeting[1]     It was a short and sweet board meeting last Saturday. President Alex Leslie called the meeting to order at 9:30 and announced that the proceedings would be recorded due to the absence of the recording secretary Roxanne Chumacas. Present were the GM, the President, Vice President Dan Glasgow, Treasure Earl Frank, and Directors Millie Bishop and June Solla. Absent were Secretary Carmen Broadnax and Director Margaret Fitzgerald. Leslie also pointed out that since the recording device being used had a one hour capacity, the meeting would have to be limited to that time.

     As he made the President’s Comments, Leslie thanked June Solla for her work in organizing the Veterans’ Day ceremony. He also thanked the GM for his and the maintenance staff’s efforts in keeping the roads drivable during the late Fall storms we’ve had. This was accomplished in spite of equipment problems that presented challenges in addition to the snow and ice.

     Treasurer Earl Frank also kept his remarks brief stating that revenue exceeded projections by about $34,000 while the overall budget was under by approximately 10%. This in spite of the fact that the bar and grill are approximately $14,000 over costs. We have collected in total $1,093,000 in dues and other income which is on a par with the previous year. The reserve fund stands at $262,000, with new capital reserve at $10,000 after the paying of the paving for the compactor.

     General Manager Allen Roth reported that with the current snowfall expected to be substantial, he had a shift that would continue to midnight and then would be relieved by a shift beginning then and continuing into the next day. All equipment is (was) currently operational. He also reported that he had put out an RFP for a new auditor. In response to a question from the November meeting, he told the room the association currently bills 1,633 improved lots (homes) and 349 unimproved. He also announced that the Emerald News would be delivered to the community on Friday, December 20th.

     Under old business a report on Clause 15 properties was postponed due to the absence of Secretary Broadnax. In response to a question, the president explained that these are properties that are within the borders of Emerald Lakes but whose owners opted out when the association was established. According to preliminary opinion of counsel, these properties may be obligated to join the association and pay dues since they enjoy many of the services provided. More on this will be revealed next month.

     Only one engineering firm has so far expressed interest in the Pine Tree Dam Valve and evacuation pipe repair project. Ace Engineering has offered to provide divers to determine the precise scope of work. According to GM Roth, the current leak may not be as severe as previously believed and, therefore, the time frame for repair may be more like five years than two or three.

     There was a third and final reading of Resolution #24 which will restore the late fee charged on dues from 2 1/2% to 10%. When the association went to quarterly payments, some math-challenged individuals changed the late fee to two and one-half per cent on the mistaken notion that four quarters of that would equal 10% annually, which, of course, it does not. It equals two and one-half per cent. This is now corrected.

     There was also a third and final reading of Resolution #25 which will put the burden of credit card transaction discount on the member using a card. (When a credit card is accepted, the accepting party receives less than 100% of the total charge. Generally they are charged a fee of 2 to 4% by the clearing house. This is referred to as the discount fee.) The new rule will be effective with the 2014/2015 billing, generally mailed around the 22nd to 24th of February.

     Under New Business the GM reported that he has an appointment scheduled with an engineering firm to examine what needs to be done to bring the community center up to snuff. Among the repairs and improvements needed are a new HVAC system and improved insulation. The condition of the roof and underpinnings will also be examined.

     President Leslie announced that the new Committee Chair Council will be meeting at a time and date TBD, probably January or February. The purpose of the committee is to improve communication between the committees, with an eye toward greater cooperation on common projects. The president also said that he will allow the council to brainstorm at its first meeting to set its own goals and objectives.

     It was announced that the newly renovated conference room in the administration building has had new chairs delivered. A new conference table is also expected soon.

     After a motion to welcome new members, three of which are repossessing banks, the meeting was adjourned at 10:22am.

November 23, 2013 Monthly Open Board Meeting

by Buz Whelan

 public-domain-clipart41[1]    The November open meeting was called to order by President Alex Leslie at 9:30am sharp. After a fast approval of the October minutes, Leslie opened his comments with a cryptic statement regarding the September meeting, saying the comments made then were his own and that he was not speaking for the board. He apologized for any confusion this may have caused. He then went on to say that the recent seminar on committee/board relations and procedures had produced a recommendation for a Committee Chair Council, and the board was prepared to act on this. He also mentioned that the bog removal project for East and West Emerald Lakes had been completed.

     Treasurer Earl Frank commenced his report by stating that the upcoming issue of the Emerald News will contain new information. Along with showing the actual dollars and variances from the budget items, readers will see the % of each major line item of expense by department to the total operating expense. A graphic chart will reflect expenses incurred by department through Oct. 31, 2013. This is intended to give members a better insight into the state of our finances.

     Frank continued that our current year-to-date revenue of $960,000 exceeds budget expectations by $29,000. This is primarily due to increased collections on code violations of $15,000 and fees for rentals, resale certificates and permits by another $10,000. In addition to these monies, our attorney has collected $96,000 year-to-date as opposed to $51,000 for the same period last year. Our total operating expenses of $825,000, excluding depreciation, is under budget by $70,000 or 8%.

     1. Administration costs are under budget by $25,000, with salaries and benefits under $17,000.

     2. Public Safety is under budget by $6,000.

     3. Maintenance is under budget by $37,000 due to a favorable variance in salaries and benefits of $18,000, $10,000 in lake maintenance and vehicle expenses of $8,000.

     4. The Community Center is under budget by $33,000 due to favorable variances in salaries and benefits of $22,000 and related items in the maintenance of our outdoor pool by $10,000 and the heating cost by $5,000.

     5. The Bar & Grill is over budget by $12,000. Revenue year-to-date is $38,000, while expense is $50,000 for a shortfall of $12,000. (editor’s note: this shortfall is an average of $2,000/mo for the first half year, down significantly from the $3,000/mo reported for the first three months)

     Regarding the total annual budget, we expect to be under by 10% which should offset any reduction in dues collected.

     Finally, our reserves balance is $389,000 and the new capital fund balance is $72,000. Road paving will eat up $224,000 of the reserves while compactor paving will reduce new capital by $65,000.

     GM Allen Roth repeated the news that the bog removal had been completed in his Manager’s Report, and added that the removed material had been dried and stored and will be used as fertilizer. He also informed the room that the road paving project had been completed and that a punch list developed after completion had also been completely addressed. He stated that RFPs have been put out for the Pine Tree Lake dam valve and pipe repair, but that as of now only two firms have expressed interest.

     In a sad addendum, Roth reported the recent death of Fred Spott, long time engineering consultant for Emerald Lakes and a friend of the association.

     During the committee chair reports, ad hoc Committee to Revise the Bylaws chair Buz Whelan reported that the singular task of developing a complete protocol for absentee voting was well underway. The committee’s goal is to present the finished product to the board in time for the February open meeting. Committee members have agreed to hold extra meetings, if necessary, in order to meet this self-imposed deadline.

     Whelan also reported on the Property Management Committee in place of ailing chair Bob Leon. There was some discussion about the name of the committee, several board members maintaining that the bylaws specify that we have a Maintenance Committee, not a Property Management one. Whelan argued that we do, in fact, have a maintenance committee in that Property management performs all appropriate maintenance committee tasks. But the committee has also taken on those tasks of the moribund Architectural Review Committee, also specified by the bylaws. By working under the title of Property Management, but functioning as both ARC and Maintenance, the bylaw requirements are met. Whelan’s point was that it wasn’t about the name, but the function.

     Moving on to committee work, the committee is working on a signage project, intended to bring community signage up to date. It was also mentioned that the one way signs on Emerald Blvd. are missing. A car was observed traveling the wrong way on this past Friday. The committee is also working on obtaining a surveillance system. One that has been researched would provide a 17 camera system with recording capability. Cost would be about $3,500.

     Stephania Johnson, Events Committee chair reported on a full schedule of events for the coming year. Highlights include Santa for the kids, a New Year’s Eve party, a murder-mystery night for Valentine’s Day with a jilted lover theme, a St. Patrick’s Day bash with the Gallagher Dancers, a May comedy show, and a return to Cabaret ’35 in the early Fall. Watch the website and Emerald News for a more complete list with dates and details.

     Earl Frank reported on a Finance & Planning Committee recommendation that the board consider requesting a special assessment from the membership. This would be $199/per property/per annum for a total of $398. According to calculations, at the current compliance rate, this would bring in approximately $550,000. The figure is meant to match the estimated cost of replacing the HVAC system in the Community Center (about $250,000) and repairing the Pine Tree Lake dam valve and leaking pipe (about $300,000). Membership approval would be required.

     Under Old Business, Secretary Carmen Broadnax read the two resolutions, passed in October, on shifting the credit card discount burden to the member when paying dues, and raising the late fee on dues from 2.5% to 10%. This is the second reading. A third will be made next month to complete the public notice. The credit card charge of 3.5% on dues payment will be effective February 24, or in time for next year’s dues payments. Fourth quarter payments for 2013/2014 dues made on time (Feb 1, 2014) will be unaffected.

     Under New Business, the board voted to accept the donation of Lot 4918, located on Clearview Drive opposite the skating pond. The area could be used as a small parking lot. The board also voted to approve Buz Whelan as Bylaw Committee chair and Sherri Ornitz as Rules and Regulations Committee Chair. Finally, the board authorized the establishment of a Committee Chair Council, with organizational details to be worked out later.

     During the Public Comments section, member Buz Whelan thanked Flo Mauri for a well run seminar on committee to committee and committee/board communication and function. The Committee Chair Council is a result of that event. A round of applause was given to Ms. Mauri.

     Whelan went on to comment on the special assessment suggestion calling it a “band-aid on a sucking chest wound.” We have serious problems with operational fund shortfalls. While some on Finance & Planning have pointed to our balanced budget and the fact that we are under in almost all areas, this is a fool’s paradise. In 2007 we had 17 full time employees. We now have 9. The beaches were both open 7 days a week. Now they alternate weekdays, with only one or the other open. The outdoor pool was open 7 days a week in season; now it is open 4. The Community Center was open 7 days a week; now it is open 3½. The compactor was open 5 days; now it operates 4. We had a Youth Activities Program with a full time Youth Activities Director; that has been completely eliminated. As for being currently under budget, for instance, we are $10,000 under in lake maintenance because we haven’t done any. We are living and operating on reduced services and deferred maintenance. There is a huge difference between having a balanced budget and having sufficient funds to properly maintain this community.

     In welcoming new members to the community, 6 properties changed hands, one a foreclosure and 3 were purchases of Classic Quality Homes.

Absentee Ballot Proposal Underway

By Buz Whelan

vote[1]     The ad hoc Committee to Revise the Bylaws had its organizational meeting on Saturday, November 2. Buz Whelan was elected chairperson to replace June Solla, who had been elected to the board. Dan Glasgow is the new board liaison. The committee received its marching orders from the board and will work to develop a fair, equitable, efficient and secure protocol for absentee voting. When this is accomplished and approved by the board it can be placed before the membership for an up or down vote. The committee also voted unanimously to schedule its meetings for the second Tuesday of each month at 9:30am in the Admin Office conference room. New members are welcome.

     On Tuesday, November 12 the committee held its first full work session. The task of devising an absentee ballot protocol was broken down into a number of steps. How to ensure the security of the received ballots and the authenticity of the voter were discussed and a preliminary process was put forward.

     Efforts to enact a process for either mail-in voting (in which all votes would be cast that way) and/or absentee balloting (in which only requested votes would be affected) have been put before the membership before, and they have failed. The current board is concerned that some members are being disenfranchised by the system now in place, which requires attendance at the Annual Meeting. Some directors and members feel that the right to participate in the election process is a precious one and should not be denied to members who cannot, for whatever personal reasons, attend the meeting. One complaint in the past has been that the process has not been carefully spelled out. The board and the committee both hope to assuage these concerns by putting forward a complete process, from request to ballot counting. The steps will include who may request an absentee ballot and how they would do that. Included will be the precise form of the physical ballots and envelopes, how they will be validated, how they will be secured and when and where they will be opened and counted. Also included will be the opportunity to write in candidates who have not declared themselves by the time of the mailing of the ballots. This would, of course, include those who make their intention to run ‘from the floor’ known to absentee voters.

     It will be difficult to produce a ‘perfect’ system, but the committee hopes to offer for membership vote a carefully considered way to make it possible for those who cannot attend the Annual Meeting to nevertheless participate in the association’s political process. We believe it is the American way.


October 26, 2013 Monthly Open Board Meeting

By Buz Whelan

meeting[1]    With a Town Hall Meeting scheduled for 11 am, this had to be a fast meeting. It was. President Alex Leslie called the meeting to order at 9:33am and after thanking those who turned out and expressing the hope that they would stay for the Town Hall to follow, he turned the floor over to Treasurer Earl Frank. Frank reported that overall, we are under budget by approximately 10%. He stated that administration was under by $18,000, maintenance by $32,000 and the Community Center by $30,000. On the down side the bar and grill are $15,000 over budget. He further stated that the GM was taking measures to stem the bleeding in that area.

GM Allen Roth reported that Fred Spot of Fred Spot Engineering Associates, with whom Emerald Lakes has a long relationship, would be retiring soon. With that known, he said that he has sent out RFPs (Requests for Proposals) to several firms to get specifications and cost estimates for the Pine Tree Lake dam valve repair. He also reported that the paving of the compactor is largely complete but must be given time to cure. He anticipates that it will reopen fully functional on November 5th.under-construction-sign-hi[1]

Under Committee Reports, it was noted that John Avrich has been elected chair of the Finance and Planning Committee, replacing David Pope who recently stepped down. Events Chairperson Stefania Johnson reported that her committee is working on a calendar of events for 2014/2015 and will be workshopping that at their next meeting, November 2nd. She also said there will be a Thanksgiving-style dinner held the Saturday prior to that holiday. Connie Simpson reported that she had been chosen as the new chair of CrimeWatch, lately referred to as the Neighborhood Watch Committee. She also passed out samples of a newly created form labeled “Eyes on Report.” Neighborhood watch  1[1]These will be available at the admin bldg, and it is promised that any filled out will be acted upon. (The Emerald Lakes Free Press will shortly publish an exemplar of the form). It was also noted that Joseph Olall has been elected chairperson of the Communications Committee. There was also a note by the president that there is the possibility that one chairperson, unspecified, is not a member of the association and that a letter of inquiry has been sent.

Old Business had just one item, Clause 15 Properties. These are properties within the boundaries of Emerald Lakes, but whose owners chose not to join the association when it was formed. Board Secretary Carmen Broadnax, assisted by member Pat Galderisi, is currently researching to determine exactly how many of these properties exist, which ones they are and what their current legal status is vis a vis obligations to or privileges allowed by the association. In other words, after the elapsing of time, must they pay for such things as lake use and do they owe any monies for services from which they benefit? The association attorney is researching this.

Under New Business the board approved the aforementioned chairpersons. They also corrected a mathematical error by upping the quarterly late fees to 10% from 2.5%. This matches the 10% late fees charged in other cases. They also passed a resolution that would pass swipe fees, the amount charged by the clearing house for credit card use, to the user, ensuring that the association receives full payment on dues, fines and late fees. Transactions at the Emerald Bar & Grill will be unaffected. Under this new policy, which had been recommended by the Finance and Planning Committee some months ago, those paying dues with a credit card would find the fee added to their bill by the card company. GM Allen Roth found a clearer, Paylease, that would do the processing. Electronic checks would also be affected. Although the GM had explained this in detail at the Friday, October 18th workshop and the next day’s Finance and Planning Committee meeting, Directors Margaret Fitzgerald and June Solla abstained from the vote saying they did not have enough information. This was also true when the rest of the board passed an $11,000 change order on road repair. The change order was necessary when pavers noted severe problems with the base on a section of Clearview while preparing it for paving. The association’s Quality Control/Quality Assurance engineer validated the paver’s finding making the change order necessary as the scope of work had greatly increased. This information was made available to board directors prior to the vote, but Fitzgerald and Solla demurred nevertheless.

During the Public Comments section it was suggested that the board make the agenda of meetings available to the membership via an email blast on the day prior to the meeting. This would give members a chance to decide on attending a meeting based on an item of particular interest to them. President Alex Leslie said he thought this was a good idea and would work to effect it.

Pat Galderisi precipitated an extended conversation on criteria for voting at the annual meeting. Referring to a discussion she viewed on the Emerald Lakes in the Poconos Facebook page (unofficial), she said that posters seemed annoyed that some members with outstanding balances of less than $50 were permitted to vote. Some cited a literal interpretation of the bylaws that describe a member-in-good-standing as one who owed nothing at all to the association. Galderisi contacted several past Judges of Elections, all of whom took a slightly more liberal view. Most indicated that with small amounts, mistakes can occur and if an error is made it should be in favor of the voter. Galderisi read several responses that uniformly pointed to the importance of protecting the voting rights of those whose debts if, in fact, they existed at all, were de minimus, of little consequence. Board Secretary Carmen Broadnax, who served as Judge of Election for the last two cycles, said that was her motivation. Linda Shuey, present as an observer, volunteered that she had been initially refused a ballot based on an erroneous  debt listing and thanked Ms. Broadnax for allowing her vote, to which, it turned out, she was entitled. Most of those in attendance agreed that this (allowing voting with small balances) was a legitimate case of judicial discretion.

September 28, 2013 Monthly Open Board of Directors Meeting

meeting[1]By Buz Whelan

President Alex Leslie called the meeting to order at 9:34 am on a beautiful fall Saturday. He began the meeting by telling the room that this President’s Message would be different from the usual. He then went on to describe, in somewhat vague terms, emails that seemed intended to undermine the board in general and himself in specific. He spoke of accusations of employees with arrest records, messages that hinted or charged outright that he and the board were not doing their due diligence in checking applicants’ backgrounds. He insisted that all prospective full time hires are given the same standard check and that one employee who had been singled out in the aforementioned emails had an arrest record that was made up of traffic violations. He also cited a recent Liquor Control Board surprise visit and inspection in which the association was given a warning. The initial warning contained comments on smoking violations and ‘gambling’ (bingo) violations. After a subsequent check of the law as written it was determined that as a private club we were not in violation of either smoking or gambling violations, and only an opened bottle in a restricted location remained in the citation. In all probability there will be a follow-up re-inspection, which the President is confident we will pass. He will be speaking with the association attorney on the matter.

As he concluded his remarks, the president expressed his belief that the emails indicated a lack of support for his leadership. He pointed out how easily he could be replaced and then, as chair, called for a motion to that effect. None was made.

Treasurer Earl Frank reported that aside from the Emerald Bar & Grill, we are currently under budget in all departments by the amount of $61,000. He said that the Bar & Grill have lost $12,000 in the first 4 months of the fiscal year. Some of this can be explained by overstocking caused by overly optimistic business projections. He also said that collections of delinquencies are far ahead of last year and if they remain on track we will collect over $100,000 more than fiscal year 2012/2013.

During the Committee Reports, Finance and Planning Committee liaison Frank relayed a number of recommendations from that committee. Chief among these was a declaration by the committee that a dues increase was not needed and that the committee would not participate in the upcoming Town Hall Meeting. The committee also reminded the board of their previous recommendation that swipe fees be charged to those members using credit cards to pay their dues, since the association receives a charge back commonly referred to as the discount. The swipe fees would compensate for that. The committee also reminded that they had recommended all late fees be raised from the current 10% to 15%, the maximum allowed by law. Of the more controversial recommendations were those involving the Community Center. One recommendation was that the center be closed for approximately 5 years with the money saved put into a building fund for a new state-of-the-art building, perhaps combining activity, meeting and administration venues. Another was to close the bar and grill or just the grill. Still another was to close the center for a year and use that savings to do necessary improvements.

Events Committee chair Stefania Johnson reported that the “Dancing with the Stars” event brought in $700 in revenue. Maintenance Committee Chair Bob Leon spoke of the committee’s task of ranking the major projects facing the association by priority. He also requested that the committee name be changed to the Property Management Committee with the committee assuming the responsibilities of the defunct Architectural Review Committee and the ad hoc Energy Conservation Committee. CrimeWatch chair Cookie Litwienski called for volunteers saying she was down to a committee of one.

Under Old Business the board passed a resolution filling the vacancy of resigned Director Joe Miller with the Annual Meeting’s first runner-up Margaret Fitzgerald. A resolution awarding the 2013/2014 paving contract to winning bidder Wayco was also passed. Wayco’s low bid was for $212,220.13 for road paving and $63,811.71 for the compactor area. The four road areas are Clover between Clearview and Sullivan Trail, Clearview from Clearview (no, that’s not a typo) to Clover, Glade from Roads End to Bull Run and the Glade/Ivy intersection.

Secretary Carmen Broadnax reported on a project to identify all Clause 15 properties and determine their status relative to the association. According to Broadnax, the deed covenants of these properties ran out in June of 1987. Ms. Broadnax explained that this is a slow, tedious process involving a great deal of research, including trips to the county recorder.

A reserve spending plan will be prepared when feedback from the F&P and Maintenance Committees on major project costs and priorities is received.

Under New Business the board passed goals and objectives for the standing committees and the ad hoc bylaws committee. Rules and Regulations were charged with eliminating redundancies and ensuring our regs are in harmony with the townships. Events was charged with producing a 2014/2015 annual schedule of events by early February so that the expected costs could be included in the budget. Maintenance and Finance and Planning were both charged with reviewing the latest reserve study and prioritizing projects using that as a guide. Bylaws was charged with producing a workable absentee ballot process. The board also approved new committee chairs, including Stefania Johnson for Events, Bob Leon for Maintenance, and Mark Davis for Real Estate. The Finance and Planning and Bylaws committees have not yet selected new chairs.

After public comments the meeting was adjourned.

Miller Resigns From ELA Board

by Buz Whelan

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA     EMERALD LAKES, Pennsylvania (ELFP) Emerald Lakes Board of Directors member Joe Miller tendered his resignation to the board via email Tuesday, August 20th. It was to be effective at midnight that day. In his email Miller states that increased demands from his business coupled with competing demands on his time from workshops, open meetings and liaison work are taking a toll. He further says that he believes someone with more time, preferably one who is a full-time resident, would be better for the association. He also pointed out that the new bylaw assigning a vacancy to the next highest vote-getter at the Annual Meeting puts Margaret Fitzgerald in his place, a situation he is comfortable with. Finally, Miller wished the board continued success.

In a ‘phone conversation, Miller was more forthcoming on his reasons for resigning. “I’ve been increasingly uncomfortable with the board’s actions and practices over the last 18 months or so. Some of the things that have been done and hidden from the membership are just plain wrong, in my opinion, but the tight confidentiality agreement and the fact that these decisions are made under the cloak of executive sessions make it difficult for me to be more open. I don’t think the board members are evil, but I think they are misguided. I began serving on the board under the presidency of Buz Whelan when transparency was the watchword. Other members of that board, like Bob Lauri or Paul Capozzoli would never stand for secrecy. This board is the opposite. My conscience has really brought me to this decision. I’m sorry I can’t say more.”

Miller added, “I want to say something positive about Margaret Fitzgerald. She was frequently my only supporter and backed me in my objections to secrecy. I think she is a good person and I wish her well. I don’t know June Solla as well, but what I do know, I like. I think she’ll be a good board member and I wish her luck and success.”

New Board Officer Selection Produces Only One Change

by Buz Whelan

Immediately following the Annual Meeting the Emerald Lakes Board of Directors met to select the officers for the new elective year. Alex Leslie was returned as board president. Earl Frank was renamed treasurer. Once again, Carmen Broadnax will serve as secretary.  For the only change, Daniel Glasgow will replace Millie Bishop as vice president. Per the election the board has one new member, June Solla. Director Joe Miller was absent from the reorganization meeting as well as the Annual Meeting. His absence fueled rumors of a pending resignation. Should this occur, Margaret Fitzgerald, the next-highest vote getter would automatically be elevated to the board. The bylaw change at the Annual Meeting mandating this came just in time for Ms. Fitzgerald. Under previous rules the board could select whomever they wished to serve as a replacement. The replacement, according to the bylaws, serves until the following Annual Meeting when the membership would select a candidate to serve out the term. In this case, with two years left on Miller’s term, the person elected next year would serve for one year.

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