Whittier Community Associates HOA, Inc.

Regular Meeting Minutes

October 26, 2021


The Board of Directors of the Whittier Community Association met via Zoom video call on October 26, 2021, at 7:00 p.m.



Paul Zimnik, President

Andrea Weaver, Vice President

Laura Ferguson, Secretary

Royle Kidwell, Director

Nancy Sweet, Director

Ronnie Lushbaugh, Director

Roger Franks, Director



Bernarda Jackson, Treasurer

Michael Brown, Director




Others Present:

5 Homeowners

Melissa Dunk & Erin Mallery, Ruppert Landscapes Representatives

Nancy Keen, Vanguard Management, Community Representative

Renee Bilinski, Recording Secretary



Paul Zimnik, President of Whittier Community HOA, called the regular meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. with a quorum present.


  1. REGULAR MINUTES: The Board discussed the August 24, 2021, minutes as presented.


            Motion: To approve the August 24, 2021, Minutes.

Weaver/Ferguson                                                                             Vote: 7/0/0


  1. Townhome Budget Petition Discussion: A Homeowner wanted to discuss the Townhome Budget and referenced a petition that was sent to Management and the Board regarding this Budget. They understood that there was limited time available for the Homeowners to carry a conversation regarding the petition. Instead of re-asking the questions, they wanted to know if the answers to the questions could be sent via a written response. The Board clarified that they would have a response from Management. They wanted to know what could keep the Budget from passing. It was explained that the Board will be voting on the Budget and if it is not approved, then it would not pass.


Another Homeowner commented their concern regarding the process of obtaining contracts. They wanted to know if there were alternatives to some of the companies that have been utilized in the past. They don’t like Ruppert Landscapes and think that they haven’t done the best job in the past few years. They asked why there has been such a long-standing relationship with Ruppert. Management explained that it depends on the work if it is a one-time project or ongoing and annually contracted work. Management sources the companies that are the best qualified, recommended, and have the bandwidth for the scope of work. Typically, the Board will vote for the lowest bid, unless what is proposed is not the right quality. The prime contractors, such as Ruppert, do the main bulk of the contracted work because the liabilities and warranties provided are better and or already cover the projects that come up. Ruppert also has the capacity to handle the scale of work required to maintain such a large community. There are not many contractors that have the capacity to handle a high quantity of work and still deliver quality. For the sake of landscaping this large of a community, going with the cheapest wouldn’t mean that it would be the best services. Ruppert has a long-standing reputation for Whittier and in the larger community.


A Board Member suggested that Homeowners should call in more often to hear when projects come up, how the Board seeks multiple bids, discuss quality versus cost for each, and determine which is the best for the specific project. The Board is constantly discussing whether or not they are making the most cost-efficient decisions that will have a long-term quality for the benefit of the Homeowners and Association.


A Homeowner brought up a specific question listed in the petition, regarding what areas are specific to townhomes that they are solely charged for in the Budget. The Board explained that the common areas around the townhomes require more work. The sidewalks, parking lots, and common grounds are all areas specific to the townhomes maintenance that is not relevant to the other areas of the community. Those are the types of items that correlate with the line items they are mentioning in the Townhome Budget. The Homeowner said that it was unclear how the Budget is being used directly for specific costs. The Board explained that the Audit reflects the actuals and that the Auditors would not allow a misuse of budgeted income for incorrect expenses.


A Homeowner asked why there was more bad debt for townhomes than the single-family homes, asking if it was in relation to the higher cost. The Board explained that the larger percentage of Owners owing bad debt happen to be Townhome Owners. It has always been the case. A Board Member said they could speculate that it may be due to a larger percentage of renters are in Townhomes which may result in absent owners or miscommunication between owners and renters. Speculation aside, Management does their due diligence by sending notices to both the residence and the Owners’ main addresses.


An additional Homeowner said they were not trying to pick apart the Budget but understand some details better. They asked if there was an actuals vs budget report for every year. The Board and Management explained that the Audit Report shows the actuals. Both are located online and can be viewed and compared.


Management noted that the Townhome Budget consists of six expenses line items: 1. Reserves Contributions (based upon the Reserves Study completed by Advisors), 2. Bad Debt, 3. Inspections (exact numbers for the Fall and Spring), and 4-6. General Maintenance (consists of actual amounts for grounds maintenance, landscaping improvement, and snow clearing) for just the Townhome common areas. Management pointed out that these line items in the Budget do not cover additional costs that occur every year, such as the drainage project in the Townhome area.


The Board moved on to the meeting agenda in order to cover the needed items.


  1. Christopher’s Crossing Center Island Beds: At the August Board meeting, the Board reviewed several competitive bids to renovate the beds along the center island of Christopher’s Crossing. The Board requested Management contact Ruppert to meet with the Landscape Committee to go over exactly what shrubs need to be removed and what type of plants should be installed. The Committee met on site and the proposal was provided to the Board. Ruppert has reported that they can still do the renovations this Fall, which is the best time to plant, if approved at the October meeting.


The Board asked Ruppert Landscapes to give a summary of the proposal. They explained that it will start in the islands by the main sign up to Rock Springs. They are keeping the ends the same and keeping a firefly uniform look from end to end which will make it a beautiful view along the drive. They have scaled back from the original proposal, giving the same feel but staying within budget. This will clean the areas and give it more color for all seasons. Removing the declining evergreens, leaving the grass, scaling back some of the current evergreens crowding the main sign will help to clean up the areas. The Board discussed the sign area and how it has changed historically and asked if they were removing the evergreens. Ruppert explained they are just intending to thin and prune the area, not removing them.


A Board Member asked if it was necessary to do this landscaping project. They noted that to them, it is a quick drive, and they don’t look at the landscaping or see a problem with what is currently there. Multiple Board Members noted that they personally walked through the islands and noted that it needed the work. It was expressed that there are many who walk by that area as well, it is not just for the drive visual. Ruppert explained that this would provide color in more than just the spring and help to add esthetic value to the community. Ruppert noted that they took everything into consideration with that area, such as the salting and wear and tear from the roads. They described which of the items would be all seasonal, the coloring of specific plants, and that they would be hearty perennials, not requiring much watering. Ruppert also noted how some of the items to be planted were considered in keeping a consistent look to the other areas within the community. The grasses picked will not grow to obstruct drivers’ view and will not require consistent cutting or maintenance.


A Board Member asked what this project would be paid from in the Budget, which line item this would fall under. Management explained that it would be paid from landscape improvement, and if needed it would be pulled from the excess operating funds. Management explained that these are the types of projects that the excess operating funds are for and that it has been about 20 years since there has been this kind of landscaping work done for this area.   


Motion: To approve the proposal provided by Ruppert for the Christopher’s Crossing Islands and additional locations requiring work.

Franks/Kidwell                                                                           Vote 7/0/0


  1. Landscape Renewal Contract: Ruppert Landscapes has submitted a three (3) year renewal contract. The contract has a 3% increase for 2022 and 3% for each following year due to the Maryland minimum wage increase and labor shortage. Ruppert Landscapes attended the meeting to answer any questions from the Board.


Ruppert Landscape Representatives explained the increase of cost was due to the cost of labor and materials cost increases. The scope of work is about the same, some items were consolidated since the last contract. They also explained some of the items in the contract are due requirements from the Department of Agriculture. They did remove some of the line items that have not been needed.


A Board Member asked to the point of the Homeowner’s questions in the Forum, what are the down sides of choosing someone else? Management explained, as mentioned before, the scope of work for such a large community would require a large company that can handle this scale of work. The crew that works in Whittier is very familiar with the community, they know every nook and cranny, and know how to be efficient with their time in getting the job done well. Such a large community is very labor intensive and would require a large crew that most smaller contractors would not be able to provide. Management noted that aside from the comment mentioned by a Homeowner before, they have received very few complaints regarding Ruppert over the years. They also have a great working relationship with the company, that they are very quick to respond and correct issues. In general, they are a company with a great reputation, fairly priced for the work, and have had a long-standing good history with the Association. Management pointed out that the contract is separated into general and townhomes to reflect the line items in the Budget. The General Common Areas cost is $52,705.00 (10 monthly payments of $5,270.00), and the Townhouse Common Areas cost is $70,440.00 (10 monthly payments of $7,044.00). That breakdown is the cost specific to only the townhome areas maintenance related costs, as an example for the Homeowners who were on the call and had been asking about the difference in budgets.


A Board Member asked if there is a penalty if the contract was ended prior to the 3-year term ending. They asked regarding if there was something that changed, or the company no longer had the same standing with the Association later on. Management said that there would be no penalty, there is just a requirement to notify them. The contract serves the purpose of locking the contractor in at the rates provided. Again, Management provided examples how the company provided services with a quick turnaround, such as when there was a drought, and they came within the day. They have never had any problems or push back from the company and the fact that they honored rates from three years ago, that did not predict the additional expenditures due to COVID and supply complications is also noteworthy.


Motion: To approve the renewal contract provided by Ruppert Landscapes.

Lushbaugh/Kidwell                                                                    Vote 7/0/0


  1. Snow Removal Contract: The Snow Clearing Contract with Ruppert is provided for approval. As the Board is aware, the Association is responsible only to clear the common sidewalks in the community, as the streets are City owned and maintained and are plowed by the City of Frederick. The costs to shovel the walks by hand has gone up slightly from $65.00 an hour to $67.00 per hour and the cost to clear the walks with a snow blower has remained the same at $95.00 per hour.


A Board Member brought up a concern regarding last winter’s first storm and how long it took to clear the sidewalks. Ruppert Landscapes Representatives were quick to apologize for that miscommunication, explaining that there was an area manager that was responsible for the miscommunication and no longer works with the company. They are confident that issue should not happen again in the future. The crew itself has been the same team for years, they know the community well and how to efficiently and quickly clear the common sidewalks. Another Board Member asked if there was some way to put in writing in the contract that there would be a form of compensation or recompence if the sidewalks were not cleared within the window of time required by the City. Ruppert said that when there is a large storm coming in, they do communicate in advance with Management to determine when and how often they should come through. They said that they would cover any fees that may be charged for snow removal not occurring within the required window (which they thought was already in the contract). Ruppert also said they will look at the contract and consider inserting some wording that would provide a guarantee around similar scenarios. 


Action: Management will discuss the contract terminology with Ruppert regarding a guarantee of snow removal around the required time limits.


Motion: To approve the contract, provided there is some statement of guarantee regarding the required timeframe of snow removal.

Franks/Ferguson                                                                         7/0/0


  1. 2022 Operating Budget: At the August Board meeting, the Board approved a draft 2022 Operating Budget for distribution to the Homeowners for comment. The Draft Budget was posted on the website and a postcard notification was mailed to all Homeowners on 9/15/21. To date, three (3) Homeowner written comments were received and provided for the Board’s review. A group of eighteen (18) Townhouse Homeowners have signed a petition with questions regarding why the townhouse fee is more than the single-family fee. Upon the Board’s final budget approval, the assessment notice will be mailed to Homeowners.


The Board discussed that the concerns that were raised by the petition have been answered, will receive a written response, and do not change the approval of the 2022 Budget.


Motion: To approve the 2022 Budget as presented.

Weaver/Franks                                                                           Vote 6/1/0


  1. 2022 Audit Approval: A copy of the 2020 Draft Audited Financial Statement for the year ended December 31, 2020, as audited by Goldklang Group, was provided for the Board’s review. It is a clean Audit with no issues noted. It will be necessary for the Board to formally accept the Audit, so the 60-day requirement as noted in the cover letter is met. The Board discussed the recommendation that the Association should keep delinquency to 3% and noted that it has never been close to that. The Board is pursuing all delinquent accounts with the Attorney. It was recommended by the Auditors to pursue as aggressively as possible, which is being done but has not resulted in the recommended 3% limit. This Audit will be posted once it is finalized by the Auditors.


Motion: To approve the 2020 Draft Audited Financial Statement for the year ended December 31, 2020, as audited by Goldklang Group.

Ferguson/Sweet                                                                           Vote 7/0/0


  1. 2021/2022 Audit Proposal: The Board was provided the 2021/2022 Audit Engagement Letter from Goldklang Group to perform the Association’s audit and taxes to review. There is a $100.00 increase from last year. This accounting firm specializes in Community Association audits and taxes and has performed this service for the Association for a number of years.


Motion: To approve the 2021/2022 Audit Proposal from Goldklang Group.

Franks/Weaver                                                                           Vote 7/0/0


  1. Request Donation to Frederick High School Football Team: There was a request made for the Association to donate to the Frederick High School Football Team. Historically, the Association has not donated to any organizations and instead provided support such as posting advertisements on the website or allowing the pools or fields to be utilized. A Board Member raised the concern that if the Board were to approve a donation for one organization in the community, that it would then need to be open to donating to any and all organizations that are in the community. It was mentioned that it would not seem to be an appropriate use of the Association’s funds. A similar request has been posed to the Board in the past and it was deemed not within the Association’s parameters at the time. The Board could however post something regarding the request, presenting it to the residents of the community to support if interested.

Motion: To not approve giving Association funds as a donation, or cash contribution, to any organization.

Franks/Kidwell                                                                           Vote 7/0/0


  1. Drainage: At the August meeting, there was a Homeowner concern regarding the Whittier Drive drainage area. The City came out to look at the drainage area and said that it is not in compliance. The City has also come up with recommendations.  Management said that the Association will work with the City, once it is the appropriate timing. Some things will have to wait until after the Kellerton community is done building in that area, like the sediment being removed since the construction will result in additional sediment. What needs to be immediately taken care of will be done.


  1. Lake: A Board Member asked why the fountain and lights shut off at night. Another Board Member mentioned they thought it is turned off during a certain time of the year. They have been seen running during the day and then are off during the night. A concern was raised if the Association paid for them to be running. Management said that the City pays for the electricity to run it, the Association paid for the original installment.


Action: Management will follow up with the City to ask why it is turned off or if it is on a timer.


  1. Markings on Sidewalks: A Board Member noted that there are several markings on the sidewalks, especially where they are uneven or messed up. They were curious who would be marking those. Management said they would assume it is the City marking them and probably means they are going to fix those spots. Probably is the Department of Transportation. Management offered to contact the City to find out.


Action: Management will ask the City about the markings on the sidewalk areas that have issues. Will also ask if it is being corrected, can they provide a general idea of when it will be done.


  1. ACC Committee: Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the ACC Committee has been reviewing and approving applications by email.
  2. Pool Committee: Decision was made to not sell the old pool furniture until the new comes in this Spring. Received an email from the pool furniture providers that they should ship on February 2nd. A Committee Member has offered to take the potted plants in for the winter, so they don’t all die.
  3. Townhouse Committee: Update on the house that had a fire, it is at a standstill with the attorneys.
  4. Condo Committee: A Committee Member noted that there have been large trucks parking on Green and leaving them there all weekend. It is dangerous to leave vehicles there and it has been reported to the police. It was suggested that in order to prioritize the issue, a higher volume of calls would help move up the priority of response. The local police non-emergency number is 301-600-2100. It has created an accident already.
  5. Landscape Committee: See the above items for discussion.
  6. Social/Lakeside Festival Committee: The Craft Fall Festival was a success. There were volunteers from Board Members and others that offered as well. About 23 vendors/tables, and all enjoyed the event. The only thing that the Committee noted would be helpful next year, is to rent a portable potty. There has already been a discussion around a Spring craft fair. Social media response was positive. A lot of feedback that people were surprised and thankful that the cider and donuts were covered. There were a lot of fun activities for the kids as well. Feedback was to have other events similar to this throughout the year.
  7. Treasurer’s Report: The Board reviewed the financial reports.


  1. ADJOURNMENT: There being no additional business for the Board to conduct, the meeting adjourned at 8:42 p.m.


Motion: To adjourn the regular meeting at 8:42 p.m.

Sweet/Lushbaugh                                                                             Vote: 7/0/0


Please note the next scheduled meeting is to be held on Tuesday, November 23, 2021, at 7:00pm via Zoom video call due to COVID-19 restrictions.



Renee Bilinski

Recording Secretary