Whittier Community Associates HOA, Inc.
Regular Meeting Minutes
August 24, 2021
The Board of Directors of the Whittier Community Association met via Zoom video call on August 24, 2021, at 7:00 p.m.
Paul Zimnik, President
Andrea Weaver, Vice President
Laura Ferguson, Secretary
Roger Franks, Director
Royle Kidwell, Director
Ronnie Lushbaugh, Director
Nancy Sweet, Director
Bernarda Jackson, Treasurer
Michael Brown, Director
Bruce Ramsay & Dejan (Dan) Milenkov, Continental Pools Representatives
Nancy Keen, Vanguard Management, Community Representative
Renee Bilinski, Recording Secretary
- CALL TO ORDER:
Paul Zimnik, President of Whittier Community HOA, called the regular meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. with a quorum present.
- REGULAR MINUTES: The Board discussed the June 22, 2021, minutes as presented and provided some edits.
Motion: To approve the June 22, 2021, minutes with the provided edits.
Sweet/Weaver Vote: 7/0/0
- HOMEOWNER & GUEST FORUM:
- Budget Questions: A Homeowner wanted to discuss the HOA fees and how they are determined. They requested a copy of all documentation that broke down the budget previously over email and Management provided the documentation that is made available to all and posted on the website. The Homeowner believes there are some hidden fees being unfairly charged to townhomes that are not being charged to others.
The Board and Management explained that there is a general budget, which is applied to all homeowners, and then there are budgets for the specific home types (i.e., townhomes). In the townhome budget there are some fees that are based upon the use of services for common areas that specific to the townhomes. This is a common concern that townhome owners will ask regarding the budget, perceiving it is unfair in comparison to the single-family homes budget. It was explained that single family homes don’t have the same number of common areas or services associated with those. For example, the townhome areas have more common area requiring grass mowing and sidewalks and parking lots requiring maintenance and snow removal, that the single-family homes don’t have and therefore are not charged for the use of those services specific to those areas. These types of services are budget items that are broken down based upon use and not general budget items dispersed across all homeowners.
The Board and Management also explained that the budget has no hidden fees, it is reviewed by financial service providers who provide auditing services to review for exactly these types of potential issues. The budget and audit report are also available to the homeowners and are made public, by posting on the website, for anyone to view.
The Homeowner insisted on being provided all documentation that is given to the auditors used to determine their audit reports since they have been a resident of the community for over a decade. They want to be able to conduct their own review or audit of the accounting and budget for the Association. Management explained that the budget and audit reports are made available to everyone and have been provided to the homeowner already. The budget already has itemized lists of the services used.
At this point, any additional documentation, like invoices from contractors for services, will continue to be provided to the professional service providers who are qualified to audit the Association. Any findings from the auditors are in the audit report, along with their verification that everything the Association has done is above reproach. The five-minute limit each Homeowner has for the Homeowner’s Forum was surpassed when the Homeowner continued to request more access to documents and Management explained that the Homeowner could feel free to continue the conversation over email with any additional questions they may have.
- Water Aerobics Class – Thanks: A Homeowner wanted to thank the Board for the approval of the water aerobics class this season. They thought it was a great resource for the community and use of the pools. They expressed their interest and hope that something like that can happen next year. They went to every session and loved it. Management said they have only had great feedback from everyone involved. The Homeowner said they know of someone who may be interested in doing a similar but different type of class and asked how they could get them involved. Management explained they could email them their details and they will pass that along to the Board for review prior to the next pool season.
- MANAGEMENT REPORT:
- Cobblestone Fall Pool Repairs: Continental Pools inspected each of the three (3) pools for any necessary pool repairs needed this fall. Cobblestone Pool is in good shape and only requires a skimmer replacement and filter media recharge. Continental Pools attended the Board meeting to answer any questions the Board may have regarding these proposals. As usual, prices are subject to a 10% discount if work is approved before October 15th. If approved, the cost would be paid from Reserve Funds.
The Board asked Continental Pools about the recommended items that are not necessary for function (i.e.: the chemical controllers). They reviewed the breakdown of the costs without those items and determined they would accept all items noted as strongly recommended and exclude the chemical controllers and plan review fees associated with those. For Cobblestone this meant the total of $11,936.00 would be changed to $4,368.00 for strongly recommended items.
(See below for combined motion.)
- Greenleaf Fall Pool Repairs: Continental Pools inspected each of the three (3) pools for any necessary pool repairs needed this fall. For the Greenleaf Pool, it is recommended to replace the perimeter caulk for both wading and main pools. Continental Pools attended the Board meeting to answer any questions the Board may have regarding these proposals. As usual, prices are subject to a 10% discount if work is approved before October 15th. If approved, the cost would be paid from Reserve Funds.
The Board asked Continental Pools about the recommended items that are not necessary for function (i.e.: the chemical controllers). They reviewed the breakdown of the costs without those items and determined they would accept all items noted as strongly recommended and exclude the chemical controllers and plan review fees associated with those. For Greenleaf this meant the total of $12,197.46 would be changed to $4,629.46 for strongly recommended items.
(See below for combined motion.)
- Wetherburne Fall Pool Repairs: Continental Pools inspected each of the three (3) pools for any necessary pool repairs needed this fall. For the Wetherburne Pool, it is recommended to strip the plaster and install a new white coat surface, as was completed on Cobblestone last year. It has been eight (8) years since the last white coat was installed. The striping of all plaster is recommended after every 3-4 white coats. This has never been done at the Wetherburne Pool and the white coat has been replastered at least 4 times. Continental Pools attended the Board meeting to answer any questions the Board may have regarding these proposals. As usual, prices are subject to a 10% discount if work is approved before October 15th. If approved, the cost would be paid from Reserve Funds.
Continental Pools said that the repair work has been going well so far, the year. In the long run, the Board has made good decisions that kept the pools from having worse issues. This upcoming year’s big item is to resurface the Wetherburne Pool. It is noted as a recommended item in that it could be put off for a year. It wouldn’t be detrimental if it was postponed for a year, the wear and tear on the seal could last another season.
The “remove existing plaster to suitable bonding texture” item is noted as a recommended item, but they would strongly recommend it be done this year with the resurface item. Wetherburne Pool is the oldest of the pools and Management noted that it has never had the complete removal and resurfacing done. If they only did the resurface without removing the existing plaster it would only extend it about seven years. They don’t see any cracks in the foundation, but it is peeling. It is better to remove the plaster and resurface at the same time, so if it needed to be postponed for a year, it could be done. Continental Pools did want to note that they cannot guarantee what the prices will be next year. With the fluctuations they have seen in the past two years from the effects COVID has had on the market, there is no guarantee of what the prices may be moving forward. Management noted that the Reserves have the capacity to pay for this work to be done and that is exactly the type of expense that it is to be used on.
The Board discussed if it would be better to wait an additional year to extend the use of the existing materials one more year, therefore extending the new materials another year. It was noted that if Greenleaf will need to be resurfaced next year, then both would have to be done at the same time. Some Board Members wanted to go ahead with the removal of plaster and resurfacing this year since the markets are unpredictable and the prices may go up exponentially. Reserves has the capacity to cover the cost and it is not taking that from another need. Another Board Member noted that the interest growth from that amount in Reserves is not increasing enough that it would be worth keeping in Reserves for another year. The interest growth rate is low enough that it would not compare to what the market cost may increase to.
A Board Member wanted Management to go back to Continental Pools and ask if Greenleaf will need to be done soon or not, to help determine if Wetherburne should be done this year.
Motion: To approve the strongly recommended items in each proposal from Continental Pools for all three pools, to be paid from Reserves.
Weaver/Ferguson Vote 6/1/0
Motion: To authorize the resurfacing and removal items for Wetherburne Pool proposed by Continental Pools, unless they (Continental Pools) determine Greenleaf Pool has the greater need, to be paid from Reserves.
Franks/Ferguson Vote 5/2/0
Action: Management will reach out to Continental Pools regarding the status on Greenleaf Pool and if it is needed first.
- Pool Management Contract Renewal: The renewal contract with Continental Pools is enclosed for the Board’s review. The labor shortage and minimum wage increases have caused a tremendous impact on costs for lifeguards, supervisory, and staffing positions. The contract is renewing at a 15% increase. More than half of that increase is minimum wage, which will go up to $12.50 in 2022. The only change to the hours is to Greenleaf at the end of the season, once school goes back in session, the hours would be 4:00pm-8:00pm due to the limited availability for staff at this time of year.
Continental Pools thanked the Board and the Community for a great season. Despite the changes with COVID restrictions changing, they had very few complications. They wanted to note that they are no longer doing a three-year contract due to the changes in rates, materials, services, etc. due to COVID’s effect on the industry. As things continue to change, they want to ensure the contract would reflect those costs. There are some complications like wanting to be competitive in pay for the lifeguards, chlorine has gone up due to plant shortages, gas has gone up, and several other unexpected increases for the industry has made it difficult. Although they can project what the 2022 costs may look like, they don’t feel comfortable estimating what will happen beyond that. If the market stabilizes and shortages fixed, then the prices may regulate again. A Board Member asked if the company itself is stable if the industry has taken so many hits. Continental Pools said that they are very stable, they had no doubts of being able to stay afloat and, thankfully, they did not let anyone go this year.
The Board asked how the year went from Continental Pools’ perspective. They said that Wetherburne was the least used, attendance at Greenleaf was low, and Cobblestone was the most used. They can share the tallies and Management can pull reports available from the electronic attendance system to review later. Continental Pools noted that that the app made things a lot easier for the lifeguards, it took a lot of pressure off them. Continental Pools also was thankful for the furniture upgrade. Management said that everyone has said great things about the lifeguards, and the Board is very grateful for the team. Board Members thanked the team for how much effort went into the environment changes (furniture, repairs, staff, app use, etc.).
The Board discussed the contract differences from previous years. Management mentioned that the upcoming budget has accounted for this increase already. Management also noted that when they had an inspection with the Frederick County Health Inspector, they mentioned that Continental Pools was the only one that opened and was fully staffed by Memorial Day weekend. They have done a lot to prevent frustrations in the community. A Board Member stated that the increase in the contract is to mirror the increase in the market. They didn’t charge more for this past year, despite the added work and costs. The contract for this year was created four years ago, well before they could have known the changes that have occurred. The fact that they honored that contract’s costs speak volumes of their dedication to the community.
Motion: To approve the renewal contract proposed by Continental Pools and the increase required to continue to provide such quality services.
Franks/Kidwell Vote 7/0/0
- Greenleaf Pool Furniture: The Pool Committee discussed new furniture and umbrellas for the Greenleaf Pool with Tom Callow of Criterion Pool Furniture. Management provided the proposal for matching furniture and umbrellas as was purchase at Cobblestone for the Board’s review. If the Board approves, this cost would be paid from Reserves.
The Pool Committee explained that the prices have gone up and more than likely will continue to go up, and the colors and selections chosen may go out of stock. It would be better to purchase them now before they increase again. If there is a need to cut back on the expense, they propose to move forward with Greenleaf and Wetherburne. They did say they would provide a 3% break if went with more than one pool.
Motion: To approve up to $60,000.00 for furnishing Greenleaf and Wetherburne, to be paid from Reserves.
Weaver/Ferguson Vote 7/0/0
- Wetherburne Pool House Wood Trim Repair: During routine community inspections, it was noted that there is rotten wood trim above the entrance to the Wetherburne Pool. Management provided a proposal from Gardeners to replace and paint for the Board to review.
Motion: To approve the proposal for the wood replacement by Gardener’s General Contractor.
Ferguson/Weaver Vote 7/0/0
- Christopher’s Crossing Center Island Beds: The Board reviewed at the June meeting, Ruppert Landscapes’ proposal to renovate the beds along the entire center island of Christopher’s Crossing. The Board requested Management contact other landscape contractors for their recommendations regarding the beds with the declining taxus shrubs. Management provided the proposals for alternative renovation options for the areas with the declining taxus yew shrubs.
Brightview Landscapes $35,000.00
Potomac Garden Center Landscapes $24,504.62
Ruppert Landscapes $28,560.00
A Board Members asked if it was necessary to do. Some didn’t see anything wrong with the plants in question. The Landscaping Committee explained that there is decay on the inside of the plants and will need to be removed and replaced with something soon. All providers said that they are dying and needed to be removed. There are also some excess operating funds to pay for this project.
The Board discussed their preferences of the styles of the designs done by each provider. Some would rather go with Brightview, despite the cost, because it looked really nice and different. There seemed to be some discrepancy with the design provided by Ruppert and what had been discussed. The Landscape Committee would like the chance to meet with them and review their design, considering something different was discussed with the other providers.
A Board Member mentioned that the community sign is looking sad and needs to be power washed. The property is owned by the shopping center and have struggled with communication with them about updating that area. Management can get a proposal for the sign to be power washed.
The Board decided to postpone making a motion until a discussion with Ruppert and the Landscape Committee can happen regarding the design to be reviewed by the Board this Fall.
Action: Management will get a proposal for the community sign to be power washed.
- 2022 Draft Operating Budget: A copy of the 2022 Draft Operating Budget was provided for the Board’s review.
Based upon the requirements of State and County laws, the anticipated schedule for the budget review, comment and approval should be as follows:
- August 24, 2021, Meeting - Board reviews Budget and approves draft for publication to the Members for comment
- October 26, 2021, Meeting - Board will hear comments from homeowners on proposed budget, final approval of 2022 Operating Budget
- November/December 2021 - Mail Budget approval notice and new payment coupons to homeowners.
Motion: To approve the Budget for publication to the Members for comment.
Lushbaugh/Weaver Vote 6/1/0
- Homeowner Concern – Cattails in Storm Drainage Area: A Homeowner from Lakeside Drive has concerns with the cattails in the storm drain area at Whittier Drive and Wetherburne Way and has requested they be mowed. Ruppert Landscapes has reported it is not standard practice to mow cattails. They are good for drainage areas as they filter heavy runoff which in turn helps control algae growth in the lake. They are also good for stabilizing soil to help minimize erosion. The storm drain areas are only mowed four (4) times per year. This is the only homeowner complaint received regarding cattails, and they have grown there for quite some time.
The Board discussed that the area can at times become a wetland. There was concern raised those cattails are contributing to or creating the issues the Homeowner mentioned. It was also noted that the only way it could be changed is to drastically change that whole area to something like concrete. As noted, cattails improve the ecosystem, keeping it balanced, in that area and do not create the problems. The area is also considered a storm management area for the community. There are cattails located in the lake as well.
The Board decided there is no motion to be made, it should be left as it is.
- OLD BUSINESS: No old business at this time.
- NEW BUSINESS:
- Townhomes Inspection & Violations: A Board Member noted that townhouses have been violating the rules. They’re not sure if the inspector is seeing the trash cans are out and not picked up in a timely matter. They also noted that townhomes don’t always mow and when they do, there are grass cuttings everywhere. They are concerned about the image of the community being reflected poorly with the lax respect of the rules. Management said that the inspector is viewing the area often. Some of the violations that have come up have been resolved. But there are a lot that do not. There is also an issue that renters may not care for the look of the home as much as owners would. The violation notices are sent to both the owner and the address itself, for the renters. Ultimately it is the Homeowner’s responsibility.
- Old Pool Furniture Sale: The Pool Committee would like to host a community sale for the old pool furniture instead of storing at the end of the season. It is possible there are other community or private pools that would be interested. If they don’t sell, they could be donated. They would like to do the sale in September, possibly the last day the pool is open they can be set out for those that would want to purchase them. An email blast could be sent out, signs posted, and possibly see who may need them. A question was posed about the proceeds and what would be done with that money. They said it could be used for more plants around the pools next year. Management mentioned that they could ask Continental Pools if they would know of any pools that would be interested in purchasing the furniture.
Action: Management will ask Continental Pools if there is anyone who is in need of pool furniture, to be purchased or donated. Pool Committee will come up with a plan for the sale.
- Water/Sewage: A Board Member asked why the cost had increased for Greenleaf water/sewage. Management was not sure why one was higher than the others in comparison.
Action: Management will investigate it.
- COMMITTEE REPORTS:
- ACC Committee: Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the ACC Committee has been reviewing and approving applications by email.
- Pool Committee: See above items for discussion.
- Townhouse Committee: Nothing to report.
- Condo Committee: Nothing to report.
- Landscape Committee: See above items for discussion.
- Social/Lakeside Festival Committee:
- The Parade was held, and it was a lot of fun.
- Crafter Event Idea: There was a new idea for holding an event in the Fall, possibly early October, at one of the pool parking lots once they are closed for the season. There are several residents who are crafters, and it would be fun to host an event where they could sell, swap, show their crafts. It could be treated like a specialized yard sale and would just need the permission to utilize the parking lot. The Committee can put a post on social media to see if there is interest, an email blast could go out for people to respond if they have interest as well. If there is enough interest, they could possibly contact some small vendors for food – maybe have some apple cider and donuts or something simple. The Board thought it was a great idea.
Action: Management will send out an email blast to gather interest. The Board will post it on the website. The Committee will post it on social media and see if there is enough interest.
- Treasurer’s Report: The Board reviewed the financial reports.
- ADJOURNMENT: There being no additional business for the Board to conduct, the meeting adjourned at 9:21 p.m.
Motion: To adjourn the regular meeting at 9:21 p.m.
Sweet/Kidwell Vote: 7/0/0
Please note the next scheduled meeting is to be held on Tuesday, October 26, 2021, at 7:00pm via Zoom video call due to COVID-19 restrictions.