Tuesday, November 16, 2021

2021 Autumn Walk HOA Annual Meeting

The 2021 Autumn Walk HOA Annual Meeting was held on Tuesday, November 2, 2021 as a virtual (videoconferencing) meeting.


  • Board of Directors: Dharmesh Patel (9811), Allie Stegner (9832), Fred Leong (9854)
  • AJ (9838), Mike (9853)
  • Proxies (11): 9808, 9810, 8914, 9815, 9823, 9825, 9838, 9840, 9843, 9852, 9860 [Dharmesh will send to CAS]
  • Management: April Day, Community Association Services (CAS)
  • Approval of 2020 Minutes
  • Report on past year
  • Landscaping
  • FY22 Budget
  • Elections
Meeting Notes:

  1. Meeting was called to order by Dharmesh at 6:05 PM
    1. Quorum was achieved (12 houses needed, Dharmesh will send proxies to CAS)
  2. 2021 Annual Meeting minutes (written by Allie)
    1. Approved 2020 Minutes 3-0 [Dharmesh motion, Allie second]
  3. Report on past year
    1. No events in 2020 due to pandemic
    2. Ice Cream Social in August 2021
    3. Halloween Parade on Oct. 31 (Allie reported most residents and children in attendance of any previous event)
  4. Landscaping
    1. Discussion of what has been done, what the contract calls for, and what needs to be corrected
    2. Fall mulching and aerating with overseeding completed
    3. However, Fred asked:
      1. Has weed control been done, and is clover considered a weed? Clover is beginning to take over both private yards and common areas, and if it is considered a weed (despite some beneficial properties) we need to treat it community wide as it spreads so quickly
      2. Also, haven't seen warning signs in yards for chemical treatments. Especially an issue for areas with lots of residents and kids going through.
    4. Discussion:
      1. Group collectively decided to classify clover as a weed and ask landscaping contractor to treat the common areas and yards
      2. Contract calls for broadleaf weed control, fertilizer, and insect/grub control to be applied throughout the year
      3. We aren't sure this has been done so we will ask that the contractor perform these actions and also install warning signs whenever chemicals are applied, especially in high traffic areas
    5. Question: Can we also control mosquitoes?
      1. This is probably beyond the HOA's scope, though we can ask that residents remove any standing water
      2. If there are any specific proposals Board can consider them
    6. Question: Can the landscaper avoid ruts on slope leading down to stormwater management pond? [AWHOA is responsible for halfway down slope, Emerson maintains below that point]
      1. Inconclusive discussion, though it may be a function of soft ground after rain
    7. Follow up: Owner of landscaping company was contacted during the meeting
      1. He says weeds are problem everywhere, they aerated and did extra heavy overseeding, with fertilizer
      2. The soil is not good
        1. Board suggests we should get recommendations on how to treat this
        2. Can do a walkthrough in Spring and come up with a plan
      3. Placed warning signs for chemicals in some areas, can make sure signs go up everywhere
  5. Budget
    1. Fred believes we need to first have a discussion about what is technically a 10% negative budget for FY22
      1. Although our financial condition is strong, we are ahead on our Reserve contributions, and a number of items are budgeted each year but not spent, this is a line we should be careful about crossing
      2. Also, are we due for a new Reserve Study, to review projected costs?
    2. What is our criteria for either reducing spending, or raising fees?
      1. Fred states that when the fees were raised in 2012 to cover the cost of maintaining the private yards, it was calculated that this would be sufficient for 5 years (and it is now 9 years without raising fees)
      2. Also at that time we expanded the Reserves to cover items the builder told us were HOA responsibility, that were not in the original plan (especially the large retaining wall)
        1. According to April, recommended best practice is a new Reserve Study every 5 years (not required by Howard County, but Montgomery County does)
          1. Last study was conducted in 2015 so we are due
          2. To be conducted by engineering firm with expertise to determine expected costs, including the retaining wall next to woods (largest item by far)
      3. Discussion of spending, Reserves, and contingency fund
        1. We are presently a few years ahead of schedule on Reserve contributions
        2. Some items are budgeted but not spent each year (for example, legal fees)
          1. We also have a lot of "retained earnings" - all of the excess funds since the inception of the HOA
        3. Biggest variable is snow removal, we have had to clear the walks around the parking spaces and along Palace Hall even though the past few winters have only had light snow
          1. Fred asks April if we can estimate costs during heavy snow
          2. April says impossible to determine, and also depends on whether we want the walkways clear or just safe, but makes a tentative guess that maximum would be $5K
        4. Good to have a contingency fund but we have too much in our operating account (checking account)
          1. Cannot earn too much interest as we are a non-profit, need to either spend of transfer to Reserves
          2. Auditor recommended no more than 25% excess, but this seemed low to Board
      4. Although not voted on, Fred suggests a guideline where if we drop to within 2 years of Reserve Study plan, Board should examine expenses and fees
        1. Contingent on new Reserve Study to validate costs and contributions
      5. Question: What dominates our spending?
        1. Mostly landscaping (about half), then management fees
          1. Both rise a few percent with inflation each year
        2. Miscellaneous costs as shown in the published budget
        3. Reserve contributions as required by Reserve Study, increasing over time
        4. Fred has set up communication vehicles that are almost free (web site, Facebook, email)
        5. Spend a small amount on social each year (less than $200)
          1. Per Allie Halloween cost $75
  6. Conclusions and actions:
    1. Board votes 3-0 to authorize a new Reserve Study [Dharmesh motion, Fred second]
    2. Board votes 3-0 to transfer $10K from Operating Funds to Reserves [Dharmesh motion, Allie second] - Minutes are needed to authorize this action
    3. Board adopts budget 3-0 as amended (to include new Reserve Study line item) [Dharmesh motion, Allie second]
    4. As noted above, Board wants to ensure that lawns are treated for weeds and grubs, and that warning signs are placed when chemicals are applied
      1. Ensure that all contracted services are performed
      2. In Spring, do a walkthrough and come up with a plan for turf remediation
  7. Elections
    1. Current Board terms expire:
      1. Dharmesh (2021), Fred (2022), Allie (2023)
    2. Dharmesh nominated, re-elected to Board unanimously
  8. Meeting adjourned at 7:10 PM

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