Surplus at the end of March or underwater?

PaddlingI have prepared an estimate of our financial position at 3/31/14 and requested feedback from the board members and our property manager, Ms. Stiles. (click here) 2014 03 31 Estimated Financial Position.  In evaluating the 2 bank accounts holding VLC funds, it appears we have a 72,000 deficit as of 3/31. From the information used, it seems the security deposits from tenants are not maintained in a separate Escrow account.  I have asked what exception to the laws regarding tenants’ security deposits our Association met, or allowed Sentry to not maintain a separate bank account for Escrow funds. No response has been provided after more than week.

It is not possible to “save” 72k by year; if all past due assessments were received tomorrow the association would remain “in the Red” based on the 3/31 analysis and the current budget.  Commingling of Reserve funds for reserves and operating expenses, I have read, is allowable in Florida when for “investment purposes”. Being underwater does not appear to be investing. The causes can be directly linked to past and present board decisions, poor budgeting, actions and inaction by our property management company and no limitations for spending on legal fees by Bod members or the property management company.

Last month, you may have received a letter dated April 16th (click here ) 2014 04 16 Pres Ltr from the BOD president,  Rick Aliperti, which was postal mailed to all owners and posted to the Sentry Mgmt website.  The letter announced a SURPLUS for March based on an email from Sentry’s Lucia Stiles, our assigned property manager. (click here) 2014_04_16_March_Surplus_Announcment_by_CAM_Stiles .  Despite the good news, no April 1 financial report with details per our bylaws was prepared and sent to owners and Mr. Aliperti responded that the accountants had an extension on preparing the audit report. A draft was received by the bod members and is still under review by the Treasurer, Paul Weber (unless I have not been informed otherwise)  The source for the claim was the attached.  (click here) March 31 2014 Sentry   

Since November 2013, after 7 years of ownership, my husband and I have been attempting to  obtain the facts; the real information regarding our financial status.  Due to the actions of the past and current board, we familiarized ourselves with the Florida statutes applicable to COAs and the governing docs and learned what our rights as owners were for obtaining financial information. Laws and governing docs have not prevented the past and current bod presidents and the management company from spending thousands of our $$ on attorneys, to block this information from being provided.  This continues to occur despite my being “on the board” in name only, though omitted from vital information sharing.

From what I was able to obtain, it was clear the budget was inadequate, the “extra” funds collected in 2014 would be needed for those not collected in 2013 and the overspending on some line items (legal, insurance, water) would result in a year end 2014 shortage.  (Good News? : at least they didn’t spend all the budgeted building cleaning in 2013!)  The primary responsibility of a COA board is to collect assessments for maintenance of common elements, insurance, replacement of fixed assets (roof) and an active property manager who visits more than one  time per week can “manage” landscaping contractors, pool companies, trash removal, allow access when needed, keep unit keys secure, etc. It is what they are licensed for and have had a background check to determine if any criminal history exists for the security of owners.  BOD members are not vital for their presence nor expected to be the cleaning crew, lanai checkers or landscape experts. Any owner or tenant can assist as the eyes and ears for the manager and report breakdowns or issues. Volunteerism is always a good thing to save the association money, but should be limited to certain areas.

From the time of the election, i made numerous attempts to explain the priority of goals for the BOD and  was met with either no response or insults for negativity. My suggestion of establishing a REAL website where all board emails, notices, etc could be posted and an account for meeting videos to be uploaded to did not make the cut for agendas either. Instead, 3 letters from Mr. Aliperti have been added to the Sentry owner payment website where only owners can access and must sign in to find.  From early February, Ms. Stiles ceased to include me when sending information to the “board” and included only the other 4. BOD meetings were scheduled at 1pm during weekdays, as it was stated the only times available for Ms. Stiles. Some meetings, I was not notified of and the 4/15 meeting at 1pm I waited for a Skype call, or phone contact. No call, no contact despite my advising the BOD pres that I would be available.

Many times, I brought the exclusions to the attention of Mr. Aliperti whose response was didn’t direct anyone’s actions.   Subsequently, I obtained an email by Mr. Aliperti,  directing the 4 other board members and Ms. Stiles to include “appropriate” BOD members only in their communication.  As BOD members can be personally held liable for violations of fiduciary duty, resulting in losses to owners, I emailed my objections to the delays in acting on the meters and stressed that we needed new legal representation.  (more on this to come)  ( click here)  Dear Mr

None of the other current board members reported having accounting backgrounds and early on exhibited a reliance on the manager who is a licensed CAM; not an accountant nor financially invested in this community.  I did not see any objections by  the other board members to her omission of me regarding group communications though at times,  Brenda Hallihan and Paul Weber included me for email discussions.  I have not read the Condo Association Manager(CAM) guidelines, available online, but cannot imagine that  this action would be ethically correct,

Consequently, requests for real information; legal invoices to determine why we were again over budget by March; General Ledger detail to review adjusting entries (moving funds from one account to another; reserves) were ignored.  To obtain the necessary information, I was required to issue my 2nd certified letter, travel to Sentry’s office on May 24th (time off work, travel expenses from NJ to FL) and pay $25.40 for document copies. After that appointment, I learned the information had been emailed to the other BOD members.  I have requested a refund of cash paid to Sentry employee Dianne Racine, but no response from Ms. Stiles yet. I may need to send the “board” a request?  I cannot imagine that the owner of Sentry, Mr. James Hart condones business practices such as this. Mr. Aliperti in his recent “Public Notice”  states that I caused legal fees with my request, as they again tried to block providing what we are entitled to according to state statutes and our VLC governing documetns.  The current pres frequently uses the phrase “Open and Honest Communication”  yet requests phone calls to discuss VLC business, with the explanation that it is the best way to get the facts. Emails which are written communications can be “misleading”.  Most people I have spoken with would prefer information in writing as opposed to “whisper down the lane” which is more prone to mistakes and gossip.

Note also the General Ledger including a reserve for Paving, nearly 23k. Interesting as 14.5k was included on the “Special Assessment” we were billed Feb 1.  “Snookered”? “Double dipped”?  (click here) 2014 04 14 GL Sentry Prepared  No explanations have been given.

To close this deficit we need to bill for the water individually used from the date of last reading through the date of repair.  The amount at this time would be nearly the $30k through 12/31/13 (unknown what amount was collected from owners who sold during this period or if it is being tracked) and the water from  Jan – May 19, or date of repair.  Based on payments of water expense, the 2014 amount may be near $32k as of May 19, higher if applying the expense to the date of service, not the date of payment. The current board has not disclosed to me any plan despite my volunteering to calculate, using an Excel formula and a determined rate of water, any plan for this. Some of the board are arguing that water thru 12/31 should be billed; there is no cutoff reading at 12/31 for nearly 130 units.  Others seem to think that owners will feel they were “double dipped” to be billed along with the dues increase.  More coming on this soon.

Many questions remain unanswered: how the 2013 year end Utilities could be reported as under budget when they were projected at 11/2013 on the budget draft to be at least 20k over. (from unbilled water). If you have questions, input, or notice something I may have overlooked in preparing the estimate, feel free to contact me at vanlooncommons@gmail.com . Like the illustration above, I am rowing a rubber raft by myself as we are nearing the 2014 year end (in budgeting) and should be projecting monthly our actual position, not an Accrual report.

Last week, bills could not be paid and our current Treasurer suggested owners pay their July 1 dues early, to pay June bills. This will not solve the overall problem and an explanation by Mr. Aliperti to an owner, of the 24k insurance payment is only a timing issue. We are bleeding out financially and trying to apply a Band-aid when a tourniquet is needed.

Catherine

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