Approved meeting minutes for Georgetown Crossing Homeowners Association
Board meeting, November 10th 2011. Notice: These meeting minutes were approved at the February 8th 2012 Board Meeting Call to Order and Attendance Board members present included, Donna Spector, Caron Burris and Dan Henderson. Absent was Juan Hernandez. Approximately twenty-five others attended all or part of the meeting as well. Having met quorum for the board, the meeting was officially called to order at 6:35 PM. Property Management Report Veronika Evans of Alliance Property Manager gave an introduction and a property management report. She noted that since the founding of the Georgetown Crossing HOA, dues have been fixed at 75 dollars per quarter, have never been raised, and the association has never made a general special assessment. Costs of meeting the obligations of the HOA have increased over the years and made it very difficult for the HOA to meet the minimum requirements, pay bills or have even a minimum amount of money in reserve to make improvements and repairs. Some of the increases cited include water and electricity rates, and additional costs to make repairs to fences as they age. In addition, she noted that recent changes in Texas law passed during the 2011 session effectively increase costs to the HOA since legal services are now required for routine actions that the property management company could previously undertake without a lawyer. There are now additional requirements on the HOA regarding notification of board meetings and open meeting law requests. Beyond these ongoing additional costs, the HOA is also faced with some one time expenses relating to changes to HOA bylaws and etc. required to be in line with changes in Texas law passed during the 2011 legislative session. These expenses could not have been anticipated in the 2011 budget. To ensure that the HOA is in a better position to meet ongoing expenses she recommended an increase in HOA dues of 5% which amounts to an additional $3.75 a quarter. To manage the other one-time expenses while allowing the HOA to build up a minimal reserve account, she also recommended a one-time special assessment of $56.00 to be applied in January 2012. Resolutions 1,2 and 3 The board discussed and considered as a group 3 resolutions as outlined in the Agenda. 1. Increasing the quarterly dues by 5% as previously outlined; beginning with the quarter that starts in January 2012. 2. A special one time assessment of $56 in January 2012 as also previously outlined. 3. Approval of the proposed 2012 budget as prepared by Veronika Evans. These items were approved together unanimously by the board members present after considerable discussion by the board and other homeowners present at the meeting. Before approval, Item 2 was amended, however, to notify neighbors when the assessment is given that they have the option to call Alliance and set up a payment plan if they are unable to pay the assessment in full when assessed in January. After further research, however, the board that item 2, the one time special assessment would not be assessed until and unless ratified by a meeting of the association. Some of the questions asked and answers given can be summarized as follows: Question: What do neighbors get from the HOA and why does it exist? Discussion: The board discussed that the HOA was put in place around the time that the neighborhood was platted with the City of Georgetown. The HOA was placed in charge of a considerable amount of common area used for neighborhood drainage and so forth, with the intention that the HOA manage those areas without the City of Georgetown incurring the expense. The 2012 proposed budget was discussed in detail during the meeting: The vast majority of the HOA expenses, as outlined in the 2012 budget go simply for the maintenance of the HOA owned property. That includes paying for mowing and landscaping, irrigation, and for electricity including street lighting were applicable and maintaining certain common fences. In addition the HOA has to pay for insurance for the common areas, and for a minimal amount of taxes. The HOA also pays for Alliance property management to handle the various administrative details associated with collecting dues, paying bills, handling contracts, meeting requirements for the association under Texas law, and so forth. The HOA has been very conscious not to spend money not considered essential to the core requirements outlined above, and continually looks at ways to reduce administrative costs. One recent improvement has been setting up the gtxhoa.org website and email process to handle meeting notifications required by law. It was finally noted that additional details concerning the budget as well as past expenses could be obtained through Alliance Property Management. Question: What alternatives does the board have to raise additional funds? Discussion: It was discussed that the board might be in a better financial position of all homeowners paid their assessments on time regularly. The administrative and legal expenses involved in attempting to recover dues assessed but not paid can be a net loss to the entire neighborhood for the time that the dues are not paid. It was also reiterated that if a homeowner simply needs more time to pay dues, contacting Alliance and setting up a payment plan is an option offered to all homeowners. Question: Why can't the neighbors take care of the neighborhood completely and reduce expenses that way? We know people who can cut the lawn for less than we're paying now, etc. Discussion: The largest set of expenses is related to landscaping maintenance. Before the current landscaping company was chosen, the board went through a process of accepting bids from multiple different companies, actively seeking companies willing to compete for the work. The board accepted what we believed was the best option available at the time. For accountability and liability purposes the board looked for companies that were bonded, insured, and applicably licensed. In any future bidding on landscaping contracts the board would be expected to follow the same process and would again ask all HOA members to encourage viable candidates to bid. Some expenses, such as taxes and insurance must be paid regardless of how the neighborhood is managed. For the rest, the board has a history of doing as many tasks as we could be done within the HOA by volunteers. There have never been enough willing volunteers to handle all of the administrative tasks required and so the HOA has always used a management association. Currently the association contracts with Alliance Association Management. The basic fee collected by Alliance has increased very modestly over the years the association has been in existence. The board has periodically evaluated other options but taking all expenses into account, has not found a less expensive choice. Question: Why don't we have more social activities? Discussion: In recent years the HOA has chosen not to spend money on other items, such as Christmas parties, fall hayrides, and so forth to minimize expenses. We have welcomed activities that can be handled with out incurring expenses. Such activities have included annual garage sales, and recently being guests at the National Night Out event hosted by other nearby Alliance Managed properties. (At the meeting the board again expressed their gratitude through Alliance to University Park and the other participating HOAs for the invitation at the event.) The board continues to welcome any ideas that can be carried out with a minimum of expense and is always looking for volunteers willing to work in this area. A couple of neighbors offered suggestions and Caron Burris is following up on these. Question: Why is it that the neighboring Churchill Farms association has dues about like ours, but they have a swimming pool and other amenities we don't? Discussion: It was observed that our neighborhood has nearly as much common area that needs to be maintained as Churchill Farms, but not nearly as many homeowners to collect dues. Question: Why does the HOA fine me when my fence is in need of repair, if I don't repair it, but I have to pay dues to repair other peoples' fences (in some of the common areas)? Discussion: The houses with fences boarding the Inner Loop and Highway 29, at the time of the formation of the HOA were assessed a special assessment of $22.50 per foot of rear lot acreage for the construction of those fences. This special assessment did not apply to homeowners anywhere else in the HOA. The responsibility of maintenance of any other fences within the neighborhood belong to the individual homeowners. Question: Why didn't we get ten days of notice before this meeting? Discussion: Currently the bylaws require notifications to association members (homeowners) before association meetings. There is no specific requirement in our bylaws for notification to association members of board meetings, however. This board meeting was posted considerably in advance on neighborhood website (gtxhoa.org). The recently passed legislation by theTexaslegislature does require notification of board meetings. The board understands the minimum requirement is no less than 72 hours in advance. As the board communicated with all homeowners recently, all future board meeting notifications will be made by posting on the gtxhoa.org website, and by sending email to individual homeowners who gave their email address to Alliance Management for that purpose. The gtxhoa.org home page has additional details on how to register an email address with Alliance. As allowed under the new law and to manage expenses; the association we will not mail out notifications for board meetings (other than email) nor go door-to-door with flyers containing that information. Resolution 4 -- Filling Vacated Board Position Donna Spector informed the board that Juan Hernandez, board member and treasurer has been unable to continue to serve on the board due to his other obligations. Veronika Evans related information regarding this as well. The board members present approved the resolution to thank Juan Hernandez for his period of service with the board per section 3.7 of the by-laws and welcomed Lynn Haag to fill the unexpired part of Juan's term on the board. Resolution 5 -- Covenants Committee Nominations Throughout the meeting there was considerable discussion about when and how covenants violations notices were being sent out, how consistent the notices were and whether fair standards were being universally applied. The board gave background that initial violation warnings typically stem from periodic inspections by the Alliance Property manager assigned to our neighborhood, and are generally based on what is seen or not seen at the time of an inspection. Any homeowner receiving a notice has the right to discuss that with the property manager and ultimately to be heard by the board, if desired, before a fine is assessed. However, the governing documents of the HOA allow for a Covenants Committee to review possible violations on a regular basis with Alliance and be an avenue for hearing neighbors concerns about a proposed fine while still reserving the right to the homeowner to appeal to the board. In order for the Covenants Committee to work, broad participation by homeowners is recommended. The committee is allowed to have as many as seven members. The board recently sent out an appeal to all homeowners with registered email addresses to fill positions on the board. Only one homeowner responded by volunteering. Dan Henderson proposed a resolution to ask Alliance to once again accept nominations for the committee. This was approved unanimously by the board members present. Everyone at the meeting having questions about this aspect of neighborhood management was urged to contact Veronika Evans about being on the committee; presuming that they would be willing to meet monthly and work with Veronika and to hear appeals from homeowners when requested. Closing Looking forward the board has agreed to explore having the Annual Neighborhood Association meeting on Tuesday Feb 21st at 6:30 at the Georgetown Public Library The meeting was adjourned at approximately 8:00 PM.