Friday, November 11, 2016

Minutes: Autumn Walk HOA Annual Meeting and Election Results (11/7/16)

Autumn Walk held its Annual Meeting on November 7, 2016 in the Emerson Clubhouse.

  • FY17 Budget Adopted
  • Monument Sign for Autumn Walk Entrance
  • Maintaining Community Engagement
    • Welcome Wagon
    • Contact Information
    • Flamingo Fridays and Events
  • Yard Maintenance Issues
  • Solar Panels
  • New Board Member Elected
  1. Attendees
    1. Board: Dharmesh Patel, Mike Fitzgerald, Damon Wood
    2. Residents: Bindu Patel, Fred Leong, Tammy Penning
    3. CAS Management: April Day
  2. Establishment of Quorum
    1. For election: 5 households present, enough proxies to reach quorum of 12
    2. For budget: all three Board members present
  3. Meeting Called to Order by President Dharmesh Patel
  4. Minutes from last year's meeting on 11/9/15 adopted unanimously
    1. Fred will act as secretary for this year's meeting
  5. FY17 Budget
    1. Copies provided to all attendees [and budget was also mailed to all homeowners]
    2. Commentary from April Day, Community Manager (CAS):
      1. FY17 budget is largely the same as last year's
      2. Dues are staying the same
      3. Budget shows what has been spent so far in 2016, what is expected by year's end, and projections for 2017
      4. Insurance costs going down
        1. April was able to bid this out, get a lower rate
        2. Accounts will show an anomaly where the last bill in December 2015 was paid in 2016
        3. They try to pay the bills quickly but sometimes year-end bills get caught in the holidays
      5. Legal, management fees: same rates
        1. New management contract was signed
      6. FY17 allocated lower amounts for Organization and Admin
        1. Based on prior history, we were not spending the budgeted amount
      7. Landscaping costs up slightly 
        1. Q: What is the duration of the contract?
          1. Signed 1/1/16, effective through 12/31/18
          2. Slight increase each year (will be about 2% in 2017)
          3. Still able to keep HOA fees at $75
          4. May try to negotiate down the increases on the next contract
      8. Snow removal amounts reduced
        1. Historically have not spent as much as was budgeted
        2. Q: Will the amount be sufficient to cover numerous smaller snows, as opposed to last winter which had fewer snows but one monster storm?
          1. Based on past experience, yes
          2. Note that HOA is only responsible for the sidewalks next to the common areas and parking spaces
          3. Though in the past we have authorized Brickman to clear all sidewalks in the community with ATVs on a selective basis
          4. Brickman contacts Dharmesh before each storm with projections for snowfall, for decisions on whether to pretreat sidewalks or come out afterwards to clear snow
        3. Q: Though the blizzard of 2016 was highly unusual, it still exposed issues with coordinating snow removal with the County and across Emerson. Have we considered "snow captains" for each neighborhood, who could provide more reliable info to Emerson and Howard County?
          1. This has not come up, but Emerson Management is trying to set up a meeting of the sub-HOA presidents
          2. Perhaps this could be discussed there
      9. Reserve Transfer
        1. Proposes moving small amount of money from Money Market Fund to Reserves
        2. Primarily because we are getting a little more money from interest on our accounts than expected
          1. We have our long-term funds in a CD and a money market account
          2. CD will mature in November 2017
            1. Board can decide then whether some of the funds are needed or whether to roll it over into a new CD
        3. Q: How does the financial health of this HOA compare to other HOAs?
          1. Very healthy, this is one of the best financially
          2. Reserve Study conducted last year showed we are right on target with the amounts being set aside, recommended increasing amount by $100 each year
        4. Q: We still haven't seen the Reserve Study - can we post a copy?
          1. ACTION: Dharmesh/April will get a copy to Fred for posting
            1. Will post to private group, but will also be available to any homeowner upon request
            2. (Update: The Reserve Study from 8/19/15 has now been posted.)
      10. Operating Contingency Fund
        1. Slight increase in budgeted amount to cover unforeseen and unusual items
      11. Entrance Sign
        1. Would like to move forward with this effort, which has been stalled for a few years
        2. Fred had taken pictures of many examples, but we have not chosen a design or contractor
          1. Want to ensure that it is high quality and low-maintenance, if we do it at all
        3. $7K budgeted, but may not be sufficient - unclear until design is chosen
          1. Q: Will other communities be interested in a group buy?
            1. One has decided not to get a sign, the other will probably go their own route.
        4. ACTION: After discussion, the following plan was put in place:
          1. Fred will send pictures to the Board
          2. Board will select top 3-4 candidates within 1 week
          3. These choices will be presented to the community for a vote (across 2 weeks)
            1. Fred will find a way to set up a voting system
          4. April will then check on feasibility/cost
            1. At this point will probably need measurements for the space, which is somewhat small
      12. FY17 Budget was formally adopted by the Board 3-0
    3. President's Commentary from Dharmesh
      1. Things have gone well
      2. Had to clear snow during major blizzard
      3. Social events: September Picnic, October Halloween Block Party
    4. Community Discussion (some items were embedded above to keep topics together)
      1. Q: Things have gone well the past few years, but we are seeing some turnover in the resident population, and we are seeing a slight drop-off from previous years. While the HOA is technically only responsible for maintenance, we've been fortunate to have a high level of engagement from residents. Can we keep this going?
        1. All agreed that this is one of the strengths of our community and we want to maintain it rather than be placed in the position of having to fix it
        2. Not everyone will choose to participate, but we want to make sure they have that opportunity and that even those who don't attend events, see value and are well-served by the HOA
        3. Comment made that the HOA activities are very kid/family-centric
          1. The activities are volunteer-driven; the HOA does not organize them and contributes only a very small amount of funding (in keeping with our goals to keep expenses low)
            1. We are very lucky to have this group of volunteers that works so hard to include everyone
              1. Mike stated that at the Halloween Block Party, numerous visitors from other neighborhoods at the candy bowls commented that they were aware of the activities and community spirit in Autumn Walk
            2. Flamingo Fridays are also intended to welcome and include everyone
              1. Lots of kids, but also opportunity for adult conversations and interactions
              2. Comment that sometimes it's easy to miss the Flamingo
              3. Some get-togethers happen even more spontaneously; someone just runs into another neighbor and starts talking, but people are still welcome to join
          2. All agree that it is a desirable goal to have activities that appeal to adults and older children as well, but someone will be needed to organize and drive it
        4. Suggestions
          1. Welcome new neighbors (both homeowners and renters)
          2. Get emails if possible
          3. Game nights? Other adult activities?
          4. Perhaps if Emerson organizes something for the Master HOA Picnic - teams from each neighborhood (including Autumn Walk)?
        5. ACTIONS:
          1. April will inform Board of any new residents she is aware of
            1. New homeowners
            2. She is supposed to be notified of rentals (per the bylaws), but this doesn't always happen
          2. Board will put together a welcome package and visit the new neighbors in person to welcome them, perhaps get contact information
            1. Possibly budget $25 for a welcome basket from Operating Contingency funds
      2. Yard Maintenance Issues
        1. We have had some issues with yards not maintained properly
          1. It appears some residents are confused by what is their responsibility
          2. We will send out reminders again that front yards must be maintained by residents EXCEPT for a single clean-up in the Spring by the contractor
            1. If there are issues: Friendly reminder first
            2. Second reminder with a deadline
              1. Must address by certain date or $25 fine for each occurrence
            3. This has typically been sufficient to get a response
              1. Often they simply aren't pulling weeds, as opposed to needing major work
        2. Q: What is permitted for mulch? Specifically, the contractor appeared to skip yards this past Spring that had the wrong color mulch.
          1. Use brown, double-shredded mulch which matches the community standard
          2. Otherwise, they may skip your yard
      3. Parking
        1. We had some problems in the past, but seem to be OK now
        2. But, we are expecting the County Fire Marshal to turn the large island at the end of the cul-de-sac into a No Parking zone (Fire Lane) which could have a spillover effect on parking elsewhere
        3. Will lose about a dozen parking spaces
      4. Solar Panels
        1. Tammy comments that her family has given up on getting solar panels
        2. Problem is that there is no good way to connect the solar panels on the roof to the electrical panel in the garage for an interior unit
          1. Doorframe of the garage is solid steel beams, cannot drill through
          2. They did not want anyone drilling holes and running cables inside their unit
          3. End units might be able to come in from the side
          4. In their case, they decided the savings were not sufficient to warrant doing this
    5. Elections
      1. Damon's position was up for re-election
        1. He was willing to serve again, but felt that since he has been on the Board as first Vice President and then Secretary since the beginning in 2012, that he should offer the opportunity for others to serve
      2. Tammy Penning was elected to the Board
      3. Current Board Officers:
        1. Dharmesh Patel - President
        2. Mike Fitzgerald - Vice President
        3. Tammy Penning - Member at Large
      4. The Board asked Fred Leong to continue managing HOA communications

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