Recreation Director Mary Farley and Lakes & Dams Director Joy Smith have resigned from the Seven Lakes Landowners Association [SLLA] Board of Directors, President Chuck Leach announced during the Board's Thursday, June 11 Work Session. Farley was in the second year of her two-year term; Smith was elected to the Board in March.
Leach encouraged anyone interested in serving on the Board to contact the Landowners Office.
Non-members on Committees
Continuing a debate on whether and how non-members should serve on SLLA Committees, Leach offered a compromise that he said would leave everyone unhappy.
"I believe Seven Lakes has benefitted immensely from the advice, knowledge, and expertise of some of our long term renters," he said. "I also believe it is inherently wrong for a renter to sit on the Finance Committee and vote for a dues increase, that's not paying one penny in dues." Leach said he also felt it is "inherently wrong" for nonmembers to sit on the Judicial, Community Standards, or Architectural Review [ARB] Committees.
He suggested the following policy: "Tenants and others who reside within the Seven Lakes community who are not landowners may participate in an advisory, non-voting on all the Board committees."
Director Bob Racine pointed out that state law makes no restrictions other than allowing only Association members to serve on the Judicial Committee.
"On all these other committees, they are advisory only," Racine said. "They advise the Board. We set them up. They report to the Board. I don't think we have to touch our rules and regulations or bylaws. They have worked in the past."
"I think we are operating under the misapprehension that committees actually vote," said resident Mary Meyer. "Committees tend to get consensus."
"I think saying 'non-voting members' creates a separation that we don't need in this community," she added. "We don't need to be exclusive, or exclusionary. We need to include people. There are committees that would suffer greatly, Recreation being one of them."
Resident George Temple said the Finance Committee members did tend to vote on whether to forward recommendations to the Board.
Leach argued that the Board tends "to go along with the recommendations of its committees."
Jane Leach noted that the ARB does make decisions that impact a homeowner's use of their property, without first going through the Board of Directors.
"The Board is the only group that has the right to make a decision," Resident Jim Allen said, "so a lot of the rest of this stuff is a red herring. You just had two people resign. You are having difficulty getting people to serve on committees."
"How can a committee be representative when you exclude somebody just because they are not a member?" Allen asked. "I don't get it. It doesn't have anything to do with their competence."
"You are missing a talent pool that is out there that is willing to serve and be excluding them I think you are doing something that is self-destructive."
In the end, Leach's motion, that renters and other non-member residents of Seven Lakes North and South can serve in a non-voting advisory role on all committees except Judicial, was moved to the Open Meeting in a four-to-one vote, with Director Racine opposed.
Elections process codified
Also during the Thursday, June 11 Work Session, Mary Meyer and Donna Stephan of the Judicial Committee presented a four-page document laying out in considerable detail the procedures that are to be followed in conducting Annual Meeting elections.
The document prescribes roles for the SLLA office staff and members of the Judicial committee, the particulars of handling and counting the ballots, provisions for a recount, and how the Board of Directors organizational meeting will be handled.
Rather than breaking new ground, the guidelines are more an attempt to standardize the manner in which the elections process has been handled in the past few years.
Perhaps the most significant change, from the landowner's point of view, is that all ballots would be due on the Friday before the Annual Meeting. Currently, landowners are able to bring their ballots to the Annual Meeting on Sunday.
Board members suggested various small revisions to the language of the document and tabled it for further consideration at the July 9 Work Session.
Process for bidding major projects
President Leach presented a procedure for bidding special projects that aims to ensure full participation by relevant committees, while avoiding undue delay.
Treasurer Gyure reported that the Finance Committee had recast the document into an step-by-step procedure. He asked that the matter be tabled to the July 9 Work Session for further consideration.
Clearly interested in moving along an item that had been initially brought up in January or February, Leach asked if it could be moved to the Open Meeting instead.
But several residents noted that there is limited opportunity for member input during the Open Meeting.
"I'd like to have it a a Work Session first," Resident Bob Darr said, "so that the membership can discuss it."
Eventually, the matter was tabled to the July 9 Work Session.
Maintenance staff pay increase
Community Manager Ray Sohl presented a recommended $4,400 expenditure to fund a merit pay increase in the maintenance department, noting that the Board had discussed the matter in closed session.
Gyure reported that the approved FY 2016 budget includes a 3.3 percent increase in the line item that includes maintenance salaries. The proposed merit increase would lift that to 7.7 percent, he said. Sohl replied that staff members receiving the merit increase would not receive the previously budgeted increase.
"We went through fire and brimstone for the stable manager to get help for the Summer," Director Racine said. "I'm in favor of this proposal, but perhaps the Board needs to practice what it preaches: 'If it's not in the budget, it's not.'"
"You gave [Stable Manager] Sam [Baker] a hard time. You gave [Director] Mary [Farley] a hard time," Racine continued. "We can find money when we want to, and maybe we should want to a little more often."
The Board moved the item to the June 25 Open Meeting, pending review by the Finance Committee. Finance Committee member Conrad Meyer asked that the entire expense, including the cost of associated taxes and benefits, be laid out for the Committee.
Multi lot bill rate
The SLLA offers a discounted dues structure for the owners of multiple lots. Manager Sohl offered for discussion a table that lays out those discounts in a simple format for use by the office staff.
Improved lots — those with a home — pay $1,025 in dues; unimproved lots pay $695. When the owner of either owns a second unimproved lot, the dues rate for that lot is $522.
Sohl's table included a steeper discount for the second lot when the two lots had been recombined: $347.
Sohl said he recalled the $347 rate being discussed a Finance Committee meeting. But Meyer and other members of that committee who were on hand for the Work Session had no recollection that the Finance Committee had recommended the $347 rate.
Director Gyure further questioned whether any of the discounted rates had ever been approved by the membership, which, under the covenants, has the sole right to approve assessments.
After considerable discussion, the Board resolved that the $347 rate should instead be $522 — the rate that would apply if the lots had never been recombined.
Meyer suggested that a full dues schedule be included in the next annual meeting packet so that the membership could approve it.
In other business during the Thursday, June 11 Work Session, the SLLA Board:
• Moved to the June 25 Open Meeting a $3,275 bid to resurface the steps and landing at the Landowners Office entrance with flagstone.
• Discussed a program proposed by Director Greg Lishawa that would allow interested residents to ride along with the lake security patrol.
• Moved to the Open Meeting a recommendation to make the multi-day swimming pool passes non-person-specific. That would allow, for example, a grandparent to use the pass on one weekend for one grandchild, and on another weekend for a different grandchild.