An Open Letter to the Property Owners
As founder of 'We the People, for the People’ (WTP), I've worked hard to make Property Owners voices heard and to gain your trust. I will continue to do so, if elected, and serve you as a dependable member of the HSV Board of Directors.
I believe one of the most important problem in the Village is our poor financial situation and our inability to pay the bills. We've been told by our CEO and BOD that we have a $45M backlog in needed repairs and infrastructure maintenance. That amount is so large and is being provided with the usual lack of transparency that we have no way of knowing how much of this is accurate, much less the breakdown of what percentage is critical, or important, or ‘nice’ to have. These classifications must be quickly determined and prioritized. Meanwhile, we still must maintain all existing amenities for our current residents and to support future marketing efforts aimed at attracting new retirees.
The first thing any successful organization does when there's a “cash flow” problem is to eliminate unnecessary spending and that's what we will do. A serious look at why we are continuing to subsidize POA restaurants or any other imprudent amenity is a firm priority of mine. We must not build new amenities, like a swimming pool, until our books are balanced, we have money to spare, and the property owners have had an authentic vote in the decision.
I will emphatically back the creation of a Finance Committee, staffed by talented and experienced Villagers who understand what it takes to run a small town. There will be budgeting for software to streamline the process, and Property Owners will be kept informed as we work through assessing our needs and vetting for software programs that will actually fulfill our predetermined goals. Also, we must take another look at the discretionary funds' POA officers are allowed to spend without oversight. Seeing that the Village Homes and Land office is permanently closed down is high on my list of stopping further draining of our cash flow. The subsequent savings would be better used toward repairs to our aging infrastructure.
Marketing & Sales Program
This is the way we will balance our budget and reduce our debt. When we start attracting more retirees (such as the military) to come to the Village, their building fees and assessments will help us pay for the $45 million backlog. We gain those retirees with well-written ads in selected publications--which will replace that personnel that's been hired and since proved to be ineffective. An aggressive marketing program, noting the recent elimination of state income tax on retired military pay will bring those retirees to HSV. The “baby boomers” retiring by the thousands every day are another target group we must concentrate on.
The main reason the BOD has lost our trust is their obsessive need for secrecy. We can no longer trust their decisions and we question every action they take. From the Troon contract to the Luxury RV Park, and the CMP, we learn about BOD decisions after they've been decided and then there are no transparent details. I will fight to make all contracts and financial transactions open to our members with input from property owners. Board meetings must once again be recorded and posted online. Detailed meeting minutes will be made available and property owner questions will be answered. This is our money and we will know how it's being spent. We deserve to know why the Gate system wasn't completed, with all the details, and we will know the salaries of all our employees we pay. We will also pursue information on any contracts, agreements or payments to recent former contracted personnel.
These are the laws we live by and they're outdated. The Nonprofit Corporation Act of 1993 is the next logical step for HSV but we must be sure this is what we want to do. We asked that you vote against this change in the last election because all owners should know before we vote, what's involved. Once we change we can't go back. The act has some good features, we can vote a director off the Board -and it has some not so good- like the BODs can have their meetings “out of state”. Does that mean Las Vegas, London or Rome? We need to thoroughly discuss this Act before deciding. All newly elected Board Directors and those who will continue to serve out their terms must sponsor this Property Owner vote, rather than it be enacted by a Board 4 to 3 vote.
Also, our Bylaws need to be reevaluated, with owner participation, voter approval and written so we all can understand them. The CMP/Protective Covenants must be condensed to a size that can be read and understood without the help of a lawyer. A document of this magnitude has no practical use and raises more questions than it answers. Our lives are complicated enough without a bloated set of rules that tell us how to use our own property.
Elections and Voting
The Board of Directors must be neutral in all elections including no literature mailed with ballots/proxies, no money spent on partisan arguments, radio ads or any other media attempting to influence an election. The BODs work for us, the property owners, and we should decide how to vote on any given subject without undue influence. They can give their opinions and the reasoning behind those opinions but they can't spend our money to support those opinions. There needs to be a system in place to authentically poll the property owners and learn how they feel about our problems. It has to be secure, reliable, affordable, and user-friendly. There are “off the shelf” voting and opinion software programs that allow participants to register and vote by phone or computer and are very reasonably priced. Many common interest communities use electronic voting in conducting all their owner polling and elections. There is a provision in our Bylaws that allows electronic voting and we should expand that provision to include all elections. After the upfront cost of software, we would cut our costs for elections significantly.
Property Owner Needs
There are a number of concerns/needs by owners that don't fit into a specific category such as a grocery store at the east end of the Village. I will contact various grocery chains and ask them to look into the possibility of opening a “neighborhood” type store. Hopefully, we will get their attention. I will report back to you the results of my inquiries. We need a sooner-than-later solution to our current security gate debacle. We must diligently find out what the problems are and how to salvage what we have. Pursuing this matter and reporting back to Property owners is of high importance to me. There's also some anxiety caused by the card gates and the opening & closing of the gate. When we pull up to the gate and it's moving we have no idea of how long we have before it starts to close, and we imagine what size dent it will put in our door. Perhaps a “countdown” light of some type (green, yellow, red) allowing drivers to tell how long until the light changes and the gate is upon them. This would be particularly helpful to us ‘retirees’ as our driving acuity diminishes with age.
So…my pledge to you is my words of commitment to continue pushing forward in our determined efforts to return our very special Village to a profitable and sustainable one, governed by the collective voices of 'We the People, for the People'.
Thank you for considering me as a viable candidate in the upcoming BOD election. As part of my promise to represent HSV Property Owners as a BOD Candidate, please know our Platform is a work-in-progress and share with me if you have something to add. Your input is valued and most welcomed.
Much appreciation to all!
WTP HSV Board Candidate
Our Village, Our Voice, Our Vote!