Tag Archives: Lucia Stiles

Special Assessments, Governing Docs & Unspent Funds

Chapter 718.116 is very specific on the use of Special Assessment funds.  On Jan 1, 2014, VLC had a $109k Special Assessment, or $730 per unit on top of the dues increase from $818 to $1,005 quarterly.  For some here, this was not a big deal, for others?

Copied from Chapter 718.116 is the section regarding Special Assessment funds:

(10) The specific purpose or purposes of any special assessment, including any contingent special assessment levied in conjunction with the purchase of an insurance policy authorized by s. 718.111(11), approved in accordance with the condominium documents shall be set forth in a written notice of such assessment sent or delivered to each unit owner. The funds collected pursuant to a special assessment shall be used only for the specific purpose or purposes set forth in such notice.

However, upon completion of such specific purpose or purposes, any excess funds will be considered common surplus, and may, at the discretion of the board, either be returned to the unit owners or applied as a credit toward future assessments.

What was the breakdown of the Special Assessment? Of the $109k, $40k was for settlement of a breach of contract lawsuit from Schindler Elevator, parking lot paving, $10k for flowers, etc.  No one told the owners that the lawsuit settlement had been agreed to with 18 monthly payments and the burden of assessing the full $730 did not need to be collected in one payment.

As of Dec 2014, $40k remained unspent from this account.

The VLC meeting minutes from  Dec  3, 2014 include a vote to transfer the funds to roof cleaning, painting and elevator reserves.  Yes,  VLC needs to increase its reserves for painting and the elevators. As for the roof cleaning, we hope the tiles will remain secure.  But this is not the point, is it?  Does a Board need to operate within the Statutes, Bylaws, governing docs, etc or not?

The former CAM, Lucia Stiles from Sentry Management was listed as present and may or may not have advised the Board that Special Assessments are to be used for the SPECIFIC PURPOSES as explained to owners or returned or credited to “owners”; not moved to another project or reserve.

I asked one BOD member about this transfer and whether it was legal to do so and was advised that it was a good use of funds and that the Board has decided it will ignore me.  I was also advised that the Board would like it if Jim and I sold our unit (not happening in our natural lives and there are 7 kids, 2 spouses, one fiance’ and 2 grandchildren and the family continues to grow) behind us.

Another BOD member once described VLC as a “small community”.   Whether there are 150 units as we have or 1,500, the purpose of the governing statutes is to provide protection for all owners with guidelines that should be followed.   Board members are required to certify in writing that the have a working knowledge of the governing documents.  4 of the 5 present had served for almost one year, or more and should be familiar with the use of funds that are OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY. (opm)

The Board member whom I asked about this transfer did not see it as a problem. The response was that everything is going well financially, our reserves are growing, the prices are rising (economic recovery is a natural process after the 2008 crash) and I don’t care about Van Loon. ?????????  Um, we bought here in 2005 and as Jim often says, “we’ve seen ’em come and we’ll see ’em go”.   We cannot see how wanting the Association to operate in the open and under the governing documents which are equal to ALL owners, equates to not caring.

Jim and I do not attend social events here.  We formed many friendships throughout the area when we first began staying here in what was a ghost town in 2007 and 2008.  Each time we visit, our dance cards are full.  Not attending group dinners, coffees or outings does not equate to not caring.   Also, caring is a feeling and has nothing to do with adhering to statutes.



VLC Board Meeting 9/9/2014 Part 1 of 3

In 3 parts, we have posted the video/audio for the most recent BOD meeting as in our opinions, should always be posted to a VLC run website. Present for the meeting were 28 owners in total, including us and the BOD members seated.  Of those, some were married couples meaning about 16-17 units were represented.  One of the problems noted is the blanket acceptance of what is orally stated at meetings, without further explanation.

We first noted that the new BOD member, Ms. Carol Nelson (who appears to be sharp) was seated at the table prior to any BOD vote being initiated and taken, as if previously agreed to.  (not a big deal but further indicator meetings are not to discuss and debate issues and problems, but presentations)  Next, an owner we’ll call “Mr. G” asked if the BOD knew the meeting was being recorded and is that allowed.  The CAM and BOD stated it was. Many owners have not read the statutes and/or governing docs, or have difficulty with the language, which include owners rights to record.

During the meeting, the small group was told that VLC is in the best financial position in a long time. The discussion of elevator repair and only being billed for half was first attributed by Mr. Aliperti to the CAM for her “negotiating skills”.  A correction was added that we will be billed for the full amount (cash flow is the problem). The lack of any finality on the meters was attributed to “waffling” of the lawyers. For the past year, this group has been made aware that a separate and credentialed attorney disagreed and her opinion was confirmed by one we consulted with. Meanwhile, some are benefitting slightly with subsidized water/sewer and all have been billed an additional $1,600 to $1,700 in 2014. Our FREE WATER and SEWER is not really a benefit for many who like us, use their condo for vacations, maybe 40 to 60 days per year.

The recent bill that went out was stated as being “fair”; fair to go backwards to a prior year to reallocate the billing for water and the fixed costs related and that no owners had objected so far. That isn’t what we were told from owners who contacted us – in fact one stated they would pay the usage that wasn’t billed (and isn’t accurate anyway using a monthly estimate taken May or July 2014, not 12/31/13) and was told not to worry about the $20 per month. How bills can be issued backwards, while not billing based on the (illegal?) water amendment is baffling.  It is an assessment, another “Special Assessment”. to try to balance the deficit. If not called one, it seems there isn’t any basis to force anyone to pay this while calling the amendment illegal.

Also, the statement regarding “an owner” challenging the election, which you cannot 60 days after…….never happened. What was requested was to see the ballot supposedly submitted by former property manager, for our unit. Never happened. We have the ONE ballot, pre-printed; he never tried to vote for us. We gave him a POA form, and a proxy for the audit.  That is it. If he were directed to sign the “sign-in” sheet in error, that would be the fault of whomever was volunteering.  It is beyond ridiculous to hear these statements (which are false and stupid) repeated, and know our finances are in the hands of those making them.

As for the limiting of information requests:  It should not be difficult to obtain actual financial info and no policies are in place or forms to request.  Instead, the statutes and docs state we are entitled to review it, as we are ALL equal owners. Instead, past and present BODs have denied information, using attorneys and property managers to do so. (Just accept what we tell you-you elected us!)  Prior to our September visit, I requested the updated legal bills and was provided what appear to be partial.  The response from the CAM was that a cert letter had to be sent. That is NOT what the statutes and docs say. Instead of the BOD studying them, it seems from the meeting the attorneys were consulted again (paid) and the BOD advised to not make any changes at this time.

Regarding the Treasurer’s report: We were impressed by Ms. Nelson for asking the CAM to allow the Treasurer, Mr. Weber to read it prior to her commentary. The numbers Mr. Weber read would lead most of those present to think our finances are great! We have over $225k cash between our 2 accounts! Now what is on the books for reserves? What Special Assessment projects are not done, or return of reserves (35k) not complete?  What bills are being held back (like the unbilled elevator repair); what amount is tenant security deposits, accounts payable, etc…The first and large insurance payment will be due prior to 10/1/14 also. It is more than just the checks written and not cashed that affect the true 8/31/14 balance, such as in my estimated analysis of 3/31 and 5/31.  As for the year end deficit number; that is why we need a FINANCE COMMITTEE. I know we have several degreed accountants and finance persons who are owners and could be reviewing the actual cash position right now; expected amount to recover from Accounts Receivables (review Safe Harbor law) and in the process of preparing the 2015 budget; determining whether another “Special Assessment” will be needed, dues increase, year end expectation, etc.

Hope the sound is okay;  we don’t want to watch it again.