Monday, March 26, 2018

Emerson HOA Board Meeting 3/26/18

  1. Emerson Board: 
    • Nancy Tucker (Howard Hughes Corp.)
    • Erica Root-Cikanek
    • Feleke Eshete
    • Unable to attend: 
      • Knott Realty Representative
      • Narsimha Doma
  1. CMC Management:
    • Steffanie Felder Nollie
    • Heather McGreevy
  1. Residents: Approx. 7 in attendance
  • Resident Forum: dog waste stations, commercial vehicles
  • Committees need volunteers, especially Safety
  • Swimming Pool to open full-time May 26 (there will be no early opening dates)
  • Clubhouse Renovation Update
  • Emerson Finances very healthy, intend to lower assessment rate again
  • Yoga Class approved for Clubhouse (10 weeks)
  • Draft FY19 Budget to be prepared by 4/22/18, approved 5/21/18
  • Emerson wants to revitalize Committees
    • Possible Committee Night
    • Also potentially seek an intern to update web site

Meeting Details:
  1. Administrative
    1. Quorum met
    2. Meeting Minutes approved
  2. Resident Forum
    1. Resident says that dog waste stations are not being emptied (dog waste overflowing), and often not being restocked with bags, sometimes for 5 weeks
      1. This has been a frequent problem the past few months
      2. Some specific locations are Bradwell Park, Sterling Park
      3. Steffanie says she was just talking to the landscaper this week about it
        1. They are supposed to empty the waste stations at least weekly, she wants to get them on a regular schedule like every Wednesday, perhaps more often in Summer
        2. Asks that residents report it when they see issues
      4. Resident also says the bags were changed to a type that doesn't work
        1. Changed to flimsy black plastic bags that are difficult to open, and so thin the waste is not contained
          1. Another resident corroborates that if disposed of in home trash, cannot contain the smell
        2. This was not a Board decision, will look into it
          1. Board comments however that when the bags were discussed a few years ago, cost of the bags was $3000/year
    2. Resident also states there are what appear to be commercial vehicles with ladders parked in the neighborhood
      1. Emerson will investigate whether this violates the bylaws
  3. Committees
    1. Activities Committee
      1. Clean Up Day for last Saturday had to be postponed due to the snow
        1. Will be held Sat. April 14th
      2. Egg Hunt next Saturday (3/31/18) is next big event
        1. Will have a giant Easter Bunny, 1600 eggs
        2. Children separated by age group and limited group allowed in at one time to better manage the event
    2. Communications, Finance: no report
    3. Safety Committee
      1. DeVon needs more people
      2. Board asks how do we fix this?
    4. Renovation Committee
      1. Committee provided update on Clubhouse Renovation
        1. January 2018 Board Meeting: Board asked Renovation Committee to recommend an Owner's Representative to Board
          1. Manage project from start to finish
          2. Represent Emerson's interests throughout
          3. Fulfill functions of oversight, project management, manage selection of Architect and Contractor, coordinate Design process, oversee construction, and coordinate 1-year warranty period
          4. This is leadership position, expected to drive the project and requires skill, experience, and expertise
        2. Committee issued a formal RFP to four bidders, received three bids
          1. Evaluated according to published RFP criteria and interviewed two finalists
          2. Also called multiple references for each
          3. Proposals have a different pricing structure
          4. Criteria, interview questions, and references questions in Board's book
        3. Presently trying to finalize a recommendation to the Board
          1. Questions to the bidders to clarify project management experience, technical expertise, pricing structure, and how changes in scope are handled
          2. Board emphasizes project management and milestones, as well as good conflict management
          3. One Director will check with professional contacts
      2. Board states that if Committee provides recommendation, they will do everything they can to expedite their decision
        1. Can discuss via email or conference call, but decision must be unanimous
        2. Do not want to wait till next scheduled Board meeting, and do not want the Board to be the bottleneck
      3. Support for this project
        1. Reserves are available and more funds may be available if justified
          1. Both the capital reserves earmarked for the design and construction, and owner's equity to be used for management and support costs
        2. Includes legal review (at least three contracts)
          1. Will not come out of project budget, generally occurs a la carte at an hourly rate because it's hard to predict how long review and iterations will take
          2. Several lawyers available in case lead is out of office
          3. Expect the contractors to provide the contracts for review
            1. One bidder suggests standard AIA contract
      4. Board formally reappoints committee: Dinesh Aggarwal, Fred Leong (Chair), Neeraj Singh, Lori Morton, and Ashley Kirkland
  4. Business
    1. Swimming Pool
      1. Pool applications are ready to go
      2. Proposal to drop the early opening weekends in May
        1. Was too cold to open the previous 2 years, had to actually shut down a couple of days because water was 68 degrees (competition pools should be at 70 degrees)
        2. Just paying lifeguards to sit in cold weather while no one is swimming
      3. Already stay open two weekends after Labor Day at end of season 
      4. Board votes to drop the early opening days
        1. Pool will open full time Saturday, May 26 (Memorial Day Weekend)
      5. Board approved repairs to the Pool by American Pool
        1. Last major repairs were in 2012
    2. Emerson Finances
      1. Delinquency rate is down to an extremely good 3%
        1. Industry standard is 5%-6%
        2. In 2013 was 14%
        3. This was occurred both because the economy improved and Emerson has systematically been looking at the data and trying to correct the issue
      2. Emerson Asseessment Rate
        1. Was raised to the maximum rate ($0.28/$1000 assessment) several years ago in order to pay off the original loan from the community's founding
          1. Loan was paid off a couple of years ago
        2. Was kept at this rate for a while in order to build reserves for improvements to Emerson
          1. Built reserves to the point that the Board decided to reduce the rate for FY18 to $0.24
          2. Intend to reduce it again for FY19 (taking effect July 1st)
            1. Note however that this is also the timeframe when new assessments by the State of Maryland takes effect and this may counterbalance the decrease since property values are rising
            2. Maryland tries to reassess property values every three years
            3. (If you have applied for a Homestead Tax Credit, increases are limited to no more than 10%/year, actually 5% in Howard County) 
    3. Yoga Class
      1. Board formally approves allowing a 10-week Yoga Class to be held in the Clubhouse and offered to residents
    4. Insurance
      1. Board approves new insurance policy
      2. Small increase (1.8%), not enough to rebid after formally soliciting bids last year
      3. Includes Directors & Officers insurance, general liability, etc.
    5. Management Contract
      1. CMC contract expires at end of fiscal year (June 30th)
      2. Board could elect to approve and sign it tonight
      3. Feleke asks for an opportunity to ask some questions
      4. Board suggests this occur via email as the May meeting will not leave enough time to act
    6. Emerson Budget
      1. Draft to Board by 4/22/18 (CMC contract requires 90-days ahead, legal requirement is 60 days)
      2. Approved at Board meeting 5/21/18
      3. Sent to Owners 6/1/18
      4. Q: Will the draft be sent to the Owners as well? Usually is, but not sure what the requirement is, may post it
      5. Will also propose new lowered assessment rate for HOA fees
    7. Reserves
      1. Owner's Equity reserves have been building as Emerson saves for new Clubhouse and other improvements
        1. Need to move it from unallocated fund to Operating Reserves which is designated for the Clubhouse
        2. Auditor says unallocated Owner's Equity is presently at 58% of annual assessments
          1. Guidance is to be 10%-20%
        3. Board approves moving recommended amount to Operating Reserves
          1. Leaves enough in unallocated Owner's Equity to be significant
          2. But makes clear that Emerson is not overcharging residents simply to stockpile money, that there is a purpose for these funds
    8. Committees Discussion
      1. Many committees are defunct. Feleke asks how we can correct this, as the committees play an important role for the community
      2. Board suggests a Committee Night to try to bring in new volunteers
      3. Suggestion from the floor that Emerson also initiate a Communications Committee project to update Emerson web site
        1. Update graphics and move some content into public space instead of behind login
          1. Much very good material already exists on web site
          2. Use the process to update the look ("re-skin" it) and think about what our community represents
          3. Then after a year should know what we want to say, and can decide whether to outsource to a professional, change the underlying platform, etc.
        2. Another resident suggests we solicit an intern from the community
          1. Many people with the right kinds of skills
        3. Steffanie also says that the current platform provider just contacted her and says they have updated their templates
          1. Can use this as a starting point for updating the site and proceed from there

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