Thursday, August 16, 2007

The First Board Meeting August 2007

This is James Vaughn. I have been given access to the blog to post information on the Association and the issues. I apologize for the long post, but want those who couldn't make the board meeting aware of what happened from my perspective. I welcome and encourage others to post comments with their take because I may not have caught everything.

First, the meeting went fairly smoothly. There were some testy moments between Bill and Dan Joseph, but Dan will be leaving Aug 21st so that will be that. We thank Dan for his time and tenure and for helping us find a new General Manager.

First up on the Agenda was board elections. Cindy Greengold was named President. Bill was named Treasurer, I got side swiped with Secretary ; ) And Jan Curtis and Dr. Bob Bettey each are Vice Presidents.

The first major item of discussion was the proposed dues increases for the Swim and Tennis Clubs. I pulled this from the consent calendar. The proposed dues increases were equal on both homeowners and non residents. I proposed at first that the non residents receive the full increase of both to keep the dues down for residents since we also had an association dues increase. Bob didn't like that too well. He thinks that it will cause bad feelings between residents and non residents because they talk. But apparently it wasn't an issue the last two years when the non residents had the dues increases while the residents had none. Bill didn't want to support any dues increase at all without justification, numbers, budget figures etc. I agreed with him that we should have that. Cindy and Jan noted that this had been discussed in the budget meeting and they trusted Bob to have the best interest of the center in mind. So I proposed that the increase be split 75% for non residents and 25% for homeowners which would make the homeowner increase anywhere from fifty cents to $1.25 per month. Cindy seconded that as a fair compromise. She noted that we should do what we can to keep the dues of residents down. The motion failed 2 for and 2 against (Jan and Bill) and Dr. B abstaining. So Cindy moved that the original fee structure be approved. That failed 2-3 with Jan and Cindy voting for it and Bill, Dr. B. and I opposing. So at this point there is no dues increase for Tennis and Swim. I am happy with that for now. The budget took into account an increase of 3-3.5% in dues revenue so that will have to be addressed next meeting. Bob has been asked to come back with more info. I hope that includes a justification for the increase. He seemed to say (and correct me if I am wrong) that we should increase the dues every year because people can take a small increase yearly but would be unhappy if they went awhile without and then got hit by a big dues increase because it was needed. When asked what the new revenue was for, he and Jan said it was for more money in the reserves for renovating the center down the road should it need it.

What do you think? Should the dues be increased? If so, how much and for whom? According to the report this month there are 439 non residents and 487 residents who are dues paying members of the Tennis and Swim centers.

Dan told us that our insurance broker indicated we had to pay app. $67,000 (I didn't write down the actual number) by the end of August so the Board had to approve this. Bill raised the concern that there was no back up, no information on what the coverage was, whether it had been bid out or not. Cindy agreed that there usually are three bids presented. Jan noted that we usually trust the broker. Liza noted that she probably got three bids and gave us the lowest. Jan noted that if we changed insurance we had to be sure that we got the proper coverage’s especially saddle insurance. Our attorney suggested we offer to renew it now with no cancellation penalty and that the insurance company come to the next board meeting and present what is part of the insurance package and if we don't agree, then we will cancel (with no penalty) and find other insurance. Bill has some contacts he will pursue. That was agreed to by all unanimously.

Directors Reports:

Glenn Parker, the incoming General Manager had sent an e-mail and word through Jan that he didn't want us to address any of the items that Bill and I had on the agenda until he could lead us in a board retreat the 22nd of September. I was a really unhappy camper about that and spoke up. I do not want to wait until after the next board meeting and not do anything on this until the October Board meeting because 3 months or 25% of my term will have gone by before we START to address these issues. In addition, I firmly believe it is the Board that gives the GM direction, not the other way around. The GM's job is to take our policy and implement it. I appreciate that eh can help provide legal and other consideration to our policies, but I want to be clear that we drive this wagon and not the other way around! Turns out Jan can't make the next board meeting so we'd have to reschedule until September 25th anyway. (I have a conflict myself that night, but we will see what happens) So I made sure that the items could be addressed at the Board retreat and still be added to the Agenda Sept. 25th. In the meantime it was agreed to add two of my items for certain to the 25th. 1) A letter prepared by staff from the board to be sent regarding the water park proposed at Cabot Road and 2) Provide examples of better board meeting minutes that will convey what happened at the meeting in an easier to read format. I also intend to use this blog for that.

Executive Session: We went into Exec Session where some items brought up were found to be things that should be addressed in open meeting. Cindy was generally the first to realize an item really should be addressed in public so some items were rescheduled for September. The new board got an update on litigation. Dan offered his outgoing assessment of the HOA. Basically he is impressed with the HOA. We need some tweaks made especially record keeping and he was impressed the Centers operate in the black.

I'll close this session to ask the community their opinion on this topic: meals for board members.

It is an ongoing tradition to have the HOA pay for meals to be delivered for the board, staff and the attorney(s) because the meeting starts at 6pm and people are coming right from work. (It was California Pizza Kitchen pizzas and salad last night. I passed because I had my Lean Cuisine at home. Five pounds to go...) Do you support this? Some would say that it is a small gesture for the hard work of the board and isn't much money while others say it isn't right that HOA money be used like this no matter how small the amount. What do you think? Are you ok with this? I don't mean this to be a big scandal and I'm not trying to rally a pitchfork tar and feather brigade. This is genuinely a simple query to see if people were aware of this and what they think of it.

Please be sure to weigh in with your comments. This will help me and the other board members have an ongoing pulse of the community since not everyone will attend every board meeting. (I didn't record everything that happened and every nuance of the meeting so if there are things I did not report, please use the comments section for that. I am trying to find a balance between sharing everything that happened and being balanced in what I share. I know I will fail and offend someone at some point so I will apologize in advance. ) What in this posting was helpful? What would you like more of? Less of? Tell us what you think. Hey, it's YOUR association too.
Thanks and we'll see you around the Ranch.


Anonymous said...

James thank you for posting on the blog, it is so nice to know what is going on. I hope the minutes are going to be better from now on.
I do not mind one meal a month being paid for, (who pays for the retreat)? It is small potatoes compared to other items.

Anonymous said...

James - thank you for doing this as well. I would hope other people will post on what they saw happen. I don't mind the meal, but I would like the agenda adhered to more closely.

For it to say that the meeting starts at 6:00, and then be kept waiting without notice is not the best community relations.

I thought Cindy did a great job moving things along and staying on track. Bob also was thoughtful and had done some research. I like how both Bill and James brought up the need for background and accountability.

I think the new ideas will be an asset to this board, and the willingness of all the board members to work together for the greater good will really make a big difference this year.

Stephanie Miller said...

Thanks for the info. I could not attend the meeting so I appreciate the summary of events. I for one don't see the harm in giving our volunteers a free meal. Any staff being paid to be at the meetings should be allowed adequate break time to go home eat, rest or what ever to be back in time to perform their duty. In our business we do have staff luncheons but it is eat AND meet at the same time.

I agree with Bill on any rate increases to the homeowners. These must be justified! Many Doctor's offices have a standard cost of living increase in their fees anually. It does not suprise me that Dr. Bettey would be in favor of this. (I hear he is the most expensive vet in our area) This is not to say that pay increases are not appropriate. What are the local tennis clubs charging as comparisons to ours? By the way, weren't the incumbants claiming to not raise dues etc.? This will be good for next years campaigning. They are already going back on their word. I think any increase should go to non homeowners NOT the homeowners.

Good luck this next year James & Bill

Anonymous said...

I find it very difficult to understand the apparent "love" by an uninformed faction on the actions of James and Bill. In this regard, please consider that James, while he, unlike Bill, does not swear, demean and "blow-up" at people who dare to disagree with him, continually utters irrational and defamatory "facts". Indeed, I cannot understand why James has not been taken to task (i.e. sued) for some of his absurd conclusions, not can I understand how Bill has not had a stroke or heart attack in tandem with his ill timed and patently incorrect blow-ups.

Perhaps the only rationale explanation for these individuals is the normal exagerations, irrationality and "fact" bending associated with a political beast such as James, and an apparent bully such as Bill.

Shame on you James and Bill. Nellie Gail was certainly better off without you.

Anonymous said...

In light of the last comment posted, keep the pressure on, James and Bill.

It surprises me that such an enlightened resident (?) has given the entrenched board members a free pass by not mentioning their name-calling, irrational comments, and bully tactics, all of which have been going on for years! Remember, they are the ones who sent Francis home in a taxi cab!

Why aren't you concerned, enlightened resident, to the point of taking action, by the illegal political advertisement published at the association's expense by Jan, Cindy and the Doc in the July 2007 Pony Express? This bad behavior could have influenced the outcome of an election.

You obviously don't care about the truth, as James and Bill do, but rather you are intent on covering it up.

Your political "hit piece" would be more effective if your weak point about decorum wasn't completely overshadowed by your own lack of good taste!

Shame on you, enlightened resident. Nellie Gail would be a better place if residents like you would open up their hearts and minds to new group of civic volunteers rather than try to vilify them.

Anonymous said...

I'd much prefer the forthright approach being taken by James and Bill than the ways of past Boards, hiding information and forming clans that can't be penetrated. You are either an insider or an outsider with them. These guys are trying to break down the barriers and expose the truth. Doesn't it bother anyone that the past Board used the Pony Express in violation of law to run campaign pieces? Who knows how that impacted the election. Perhaps Stephanie Miller would be on the Board today if the rules had been followed, or do those only apply to the outsiders?

Rebecca said...

Directly to James, I do hope you will post another synopsis of what happened. It would be nice to get others perspectives as well.

I was not able to attend the meeting but I heard someone had a video camera? What was the purpose of that? I would not be comfortable with that going on. I don't see any positive reason for that to happen. I am willing to be wrong, so please, someone enlighten me?