The last board meeting for Jan, Cindy and I. Things went very smoothly and ended with tears (of happiness I assure you). Here is my final board meeting report:
Executive Session: 6:11pm
1) Updates on lawsuit status. Three lawsuits. One has dragged on for years and appears to be headed the same way for now. One may be resolved and the other might be headed that way.
2) Violation Report - Sandie's Naughty List was light this month.
3) Approved 4-0 a retainer with Judge Law Firm to handle any delinquency suits if they come up. we generally have very few. This firm is based locally so it's supposed to be better for us.
4) Renewed the contract with our law firm 5-0. They noted that they provide us with quite a bit of free service and Maggie approves of them.
Our final session opened with a big presentation and thank you to Shirley Charn who was been with Nellie Gail staff for 28 years. Councilwoman Melody Carruth stopped by with a gift and congrats. And the Board gave her a life membership to the Swim and Tennis Club. Our evil plan is to keep her nearby so we can enjoy her company and ask her "Do you know where to find..." type questions. ; )
Lorinda Engelhorn - Thanked Jan and Cindy for their years of service and thanked me "for driving us all crazy."
ARC Appeal - Mardi Vardell seeks to build a deck over what is technically considered open space (which means the 5 feet of yard between the pad and her barn.) The Board had concerns about screening from the neighbors and the scale of the deck so once the architect approves fixes to those concerns she is good to go.
Consent Calendar - James moved and Cindy seconded a motion to add the emergency Preparedness Committee Postings and the Delinquency Policy Template to the consent calendar. Approved 5-0. The Consent calendar (with approving minutes and receiving the financial statement) was approved 5-0.
Tennis - 600 burgers were served at the Open House. Lots of neighbors took the tour of the facility. The courts are busy, especially due to camps.
Swim - The pool is busy especially due to swim lessons. All private lessons are booked, but there are still slots left in the group lessons. The swim team is having it's best season thus far.
Equestrian - Budget has been difficult. More homeowners have gotten into the stalls at the Center. Riders are doing well at the national level in competition including Christine.
CUP Amended Proposal - The consultant wants even more money. (Big shock). But we need to get this Conditional Use Permit (CUP) approved and it wasn't worth a heated debate over how they managed to "mis-underestimate" what we told them was part of the proposal. We need to get in compliance with our permits at the EC. (And a "You're welcome" to the equestrian community for the HOA funding this project from the HOA budget.) Note to future board members we probably don't want to use this company for anything again. Cindy Moved/Jan second. Approved 5-0.
Cell Phone Tower Revenue - James proposed and Cindy seconded a motion to designate the cell phone tower revenue as HOA revenue to be part of a discretionary budget line item and that for the 2008/2009 budget that revenue be allocated to the Equestrian Center Operating Budget. It was (I felt) a fair compromise that recognizes the cell phone tower revenue is all of Nellie Gail's, while acknowledging that the EC has depended on that revenue going to them to make their budget balance. It was noted that next year the equestrian community and the board will debate amongst themselves if this contribution from the entire community is still needed to make up for the structural deficit that exists in their budget. (To be fair, it was noted that the cell phone tower was placed on land that the EC might have been able to use so perhaps future boards might determine how much space the tower takes up and how many stalls there might have been and allocate by that formula.) Motion passed 3-2 with Bill, Cindy and I in favor and Jan and Bob opposed.
2008 Reserve Study - A required interim "paper" study of our reserve funds was conducted and found that the business centers are at 100% of reserve funding while the HOA is at 82%. A full physical reserve study will be conducted next year and many items that are under-estimated or not included, especially at the equestrian center will be addressed then. The study was approved 5-0.
2008-2009 Budget Approval - A budget was approved 5-o that DOES NOT raise HOA dues, Tennis or Swim dues this year. The equestrian center budget was adapted to remove the $18,000 "reimbursement" from the HOA for wear and tear on the driveway leading to the trash containers. (That alone eliminated $3 of the proposed $7 a quarter increase).
The boarding fees at the equestrian center will be raised from $415 to $480 ($65 increase) for residents and from $490 to $565 ($75 increase ) for non-residents in anticipation of increased hay, shavings and manure disposal costs. If we were to pass along the actual increase expected the rates would have gone up $100 a month just for those costs alone much less the costs of management, pay increases etc. Thanks to one of our incoming board members, we found out that we are the cheapest facility in the region. The median rate for a box stall is $540. There may be a new increase (or not) depending on what the actual prices of those things turns out to be.
The equestrian community really stepped up to the plate in identifying potential places to cut costs. Some examples: We clean stalls twice a day. No other facility does. (Cleaning once a day will reduce costs for disposal and labor). We feed four flakes of hay across two feedings. Other stables feed only three flakes. If we follow those practices, the costs should come down dramatically keeping the board increase low and perhaps allowing for items on the wish list like a new wash rack by the lower stalls. So ultimately we were offering Cadillac service at Yugo prices. Playing hardball with the EC over the budget helped focus attention and root out these practices that should help eliminate the structural deficit and perhaps allow us to reallocate that cell phone tower money elsewhere. For example, we had to eliminate any capitol improvements for next year to eliminate the need for a fee increase. Since we are way behind on doing reserve projects, it was suggested that we won't have time for capitol projects anyway so it shouldn't cause any hardship. There's been nothing on the urgent list anyway.
Vista Firenze Fence Request - Thanks to Jan, we were able to determine the item to approve the fence was not so simple after all. She noted the bid staff suggested we accept did not indicate if the posts should go in concrete or not. The lowest bid didn't have concrete. The highest did. And according to Jan and others, concrete is not really ideal for fences (and none of the others have them). So the board sent the bids back to staff to rebid with no concrete. Good catch on Jan's part.
"Not Directors' Comments" - (The attorneys made us eliminate directors comments so board members spoke as neighbors in a re-opened homeowners forum.)
Jan Curtis - Acknowledged the wonderful work of Tom Brockmiller over the years and noted that the last activities coordinator got a nice thank you and dinner gift certificate. Staff was "suggested/directed" to do the same for Mr. Brockmiller. Thanks for your many years of effort Tom!
General Managers Report - Maggie deferred her report to the end for purposes of presentations to the retiring board members for their service.
Jan Curtis - I rose to thank Jan Curtis, on behalf of the board, for her many years of wonderful dedication and service to the community. I noted the hours, blood, sweat and tears as well as the pleasure and the crap she received. (Most of the latter from me the last year). And we wanted an appropriate way to acknowledge that contribution. I presented her with a box (which she was afraid to open because she thought it was literally going to be a box of horse manure...) I narrated for the audience as she opened it noting that while the gift actually had not arrived, inside was a replica of the bronze plaque that will be posted at the Dressage Arena naming it the "Jan Curtis Arena" in honor of her years of service. She was very visibly moved and appreciative. I said the Board felt this was an appropriate way to honor her service. There was a picture showing her what the sign will look like when it arrives. (Thanks to Sandie) Perhaps an unveiling of the sign would be appropriate when it arrives and is installed?
I concluded by noting that I truly had admired and appreciated and understood all the work she put in to the community and that if I ever make a fraction of the difference she has made in this community I will consider myself lucky. I want everyone to know that while we battled on the field of ideas I never once took for granted and under-appreciated all that she did. We agreed many many times, perhaps more than we disagreed, but that doesn't make for good gossip around the Ranch. ; )
Cindy Greengold - Received a new tennis racket and noted the great pleasure she'd had the past year son the board and all the great friends she made. She noted that she learned a lot, perhaps more this year than in any other year.
Me - I received a terrific emergency radio and lantern with the Nellie Gail Ranch logo on it. I also thanked everyone for all that I had learned and the many wonderful people I met. I said I had a limited agenda of what I wanted to accomplish and I did it. (More in my next post farewell post.)
We adjourned to the patio outside for cake and punch. A fitting way to end a great year.