Category Archives: Board of Directors

Transparency and the RVS Community Manager

Our HOA community manager Vincent Montoya became an owner and resident of RVS in April 2016. We previously had a community manager — Jessica Pfeiffer — who was also a resident and this was publicly known. There are certainly advantages to having a manager who lives in the community but some potential drawbacks and potential conflicts of interest also exist.

The previous Board of Directors chose to keep secret the fact that Mr. Montoya and his family moved to RVS. That secret started to unravel when the Montoyas’ house was broken into and Mr. Montoya’s wife Tina posted about the incident on the NextDoor Windmill Ridge website. Several days later she posted a critical comment about the new Board (which had not yet appointed officers or had an official meeting), not doing anything about the spate of thefts in RVS. However Ms. Montoya posted her comments using an assumed name, Roland Alarid, who I believe is a relative.

At the Annual Meeting when the issue of security was discussed, President Paiz referred to “something that cannot be revealed,” presumably the fact that the Montoyas’ home was entered. Publicly available information on the Internet shows that the Montoyas live on Madre Mountain. As a resident, Ms. Montoya is entitled to criticize the Board, but she should use her own name and not pose as someone else. Both posts have since been removed and the name Roland Alarid has been changed to TL Alarid on the Windmill Ridge NextDoor site.

By trying to keep it a secret that the Montoyas live here, both the previous Board and Mr. Montoya created an unnecessary problem. To avoid any other difficulties in future, I suggest that Mr. Montoya publicly reveal to RVS residents — perhaps via an email blast — that he and his family live here.

I also suggest that the new Board speak with Mr. Montoya about transparency and possible conflicts of interest, particularly regarding the election process. The Board should clearly set forth his different roles as an employee community manager and a resident.

 

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Why I’m A Candidate for the HOA Board

First, I would like to thank the residents who turned out for the Candidate Forum last Saturday. Some very thoughtful questions were asked. I also want to reach out to residents who did not attend.

I am running because we currently have a Board that is totally dysfunctional. Between December 2015 and September 2016, three of the seven Board members resigned. The Board has spent at least $6,000 of our money on legal fees related to internal disputes among Board members. The HOA attorney is representing some Board members against others. That is not what our legal budget was meant for.

Residents of RVS deserve better. You deserve rational, sane individuals who commit to representing your best interests. My objective is to have an honest, competent Board that is receptive to resident input.

Several residents have told me that they don’t get involved in politics and therefore are not interested in the activities of the HOA or voting for Board members. This isn’t about politics; it’s about money. Your money.

Your HOA Board gets to spend the money from your assessments and if you are not interested in how they spend it, there is opportunity for abuse — like the $6,000 mentioned above. Our assessments are increasing in 2017, mainly because of the County implementing a curbside recycling program. We should be looking for ways to cut costs to offset the increase, not wasting money.

For the third year in a row I have asked the Board to furnish residents with year-to-date expenditures for 2016 in the Annual Meeting packet, not just the budget for 2017. For the third year in a row they have not complied although they said would do so. Despite giving lip service to transparency, members of the current Board do not want residents to receive certain information, including how your money is spent. I want to know why. Don’t you?

Apathy is the greatest threat to an honest and accountable Board of Directors.  If residents show no interest in how the Board operates and how it spends your money, the Board can make decisions not in your best interest and waste your money as well.

We’ve had too much discord in our community over the past three years; we need Board members who can create a more harmonious environment to better serve the people who live here. I can help accomplish that.

It would be helpful if all candidates for the Board would post their views on the issues facing RVS on this blog. And I urge all residents to vote, either in person at the Annual Meeting on November 15, or by appointing a proxy.

 

 

Clarification about Election Letter From RVS Resident

Vince Montoya, the HOA Community Manager, sent out an e-mail blast today about a letter that was sent by a resident of RVS to other residents regarding the upcoming election. The letter was actually very straightforward and the author, Glen Smerage, identified himself as a resident and never said that he represented the HOA. Mr. Smerage provided his address, telephone number, and e-mail address and anyone that wants to can contact him directly.

Some people had questions as to how their addresses were obtained. One possible way is from a mailing list broker. Names and addresses are public information and brokers obtain them and segment them by zip code and many other criteria. Anyone who wishes can purchase a mailing list from a broker.

Surely, like me, many of you receive several postcards a month from real estate agents describing house sales and listings in Rancho Viejo. How did they get your name and address? From a mailing list broker or from County records.

Regarding Mr. Smerage’s offer to act as a proxy for those who do not want to attend the Annual Meeting, this practice has been going on in RVS on an informal basis for years. If you don’t attend the meeting in person but still want to vote, you have to designate a proxy.

In his e-mail Mr. Montoya positions himself as the source of “direct accurate information.” I have statements from residents who reported that prior to the 2014 election Mr. Montoya called them and said that their proxies were not filled out correctly and that he would be more than happy to come to their homes, help them fill out the forms correctly and act as their proxy. That solicitation is no different from what Mr. Smerage did. And Mr. Smerage actually lives here. Mr. Montoya does not.

There is nothing underhanded or nefarious going on.

I should note that I am a candidate for the Board and Mr. Smerage endorsed me. I did not ask for his endorsement, and did not see the letter before it was sent.

Meet the 2016 RVS Board Candidates October 29, 2016 from 10AM – 12PM

Click HERE to download flyer

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At Least Two Board Members Forget What Country They Are Living In

At the September 29th Board meeting, member Laura Corbin brought up the topic of having a Board sponsored candidate forum prior to the election this year. She had previously asked that the subject be put on the agenda but it had been left off. President Bernie Paiz said it was his error.

He then stated that anyone in RVS could sponsor a candidate forum, it was within residents’ rights to hold one and it was possible that the Board would sponsor it. Discussion within the Nominating Committee was suggested. Board member Carol Thompson objected to any candidate forum.

I reminded the Board that residents had held such a forum two years ago and it was well attended although none of the sitting Board members participated.

Within three days Mr. Paiz changed his mind. He stated, “This Candidate Forum is not required by our Governing Documents and is not a sanctioned activity of the Board of Directors. This is a tactic to usurp the elected BOD and override the governing Documents and therefore participation will be discouraged. The only Election requirement is the formation of a Nominating Committee. Candidates are encouraged to supply bios and have the opportunity to address the attendees at the Annual Meeting. I will not be participating in this attempt of coup and strongly recommend that members of the BOD and Nominating Committee not participate.”

What happened in those three days? Carol Thompson — who Mr. Paiz seems unable to stand up to — set him straight about what could occur in RVS according to her rules. The tip-off is the phrase “non-sanctioned,” a favorite of hers. Every time residents have held any meeting not specifically sponsored by the Board she has labeled it illegal and non-sanctioned. To Ms. Thompson and Mr. Paiz, communication in our community is a one-way process. The Board tells us what to do and residents have to abide. Why are Ms. Thompson and Mr. Paiz, whose terms are up, so afraid of interacting with residents and fielding questions from us?

Most people vote by proxy and having candidates present their views at the annual meeting is laughable. Less than 10 percent of residents attend and most people have already voted by proxy. We need to hear the views of prospective Board members before the voting, not afterward. We need to know what kind of people they are and if they have the best interests of residents as a core value. This is especially true this year because:

  • In the first nine months of 2016 three Board members resigned. They were ill prepared for serving on the Board.
  • We are grappling with several complex and costly issues — irrigation, road and trail repair, and the County’s new solid waste recycling program. Our assessments are increasing substantially this year and may do so again because of these issues.
  • We need Board members who have an opinion as to how we can maintain our infrastructure and prevent home values from declining while avoiding frivolous expenditures.

According to Mr. Paiz and Ms. Thompson, having a candidate forum where candidates can present their views on governance and answer questions from residents is considered a usurpation of Board prerogative. Presentation of views and questioning of candidates is part of any election process. A coup Mr. Paiz? You and Ms. Thompson were not paying attention during civics class in high school.

I have been told several times by Ms. Thompson and her followers that if I don’t like how things are run in RVS, I should move. Rancho Viejo is in the United States, which is still a democracy. Mr. Paiz and Ms. Thompson prefer dictatorship. Perhaps they should move; there are a multitude of countries that could accommodate their views.

There will be a candidate forum this month held by concerned residents of our community. A date and time will be provided shortly and all candidates are encouraged to participate. Six positions are open on the Board this year although there is some behind the scenes manipulation by the Board to reduce that to five.

RVS suffers from enormous apathy. I’ve heard from several residents that they don’t get involved in politics. It isn’t all politics; it is also a pocketbook issue and it’s your money that the Board is playing with. Look at my recent post about out-of-control legal expenditures. Despite my requests for the past two years, the Board has refused to furnish residents year to date expenditures in the annual meeting package, claiming they only have to provide the following year’s budget.

We need to get rid of the dysfunctional, dictatorial Board we have now and infuse it with some new blood. We need to end the tyranny. Please, if you care about your community, your assessments, and your property values, consider running for the Board. If you wish, you can post your bio here on the blog.

Board of Directors’ Squabbling Results in Over Budget, Out of Control Legal Expenses

The 2017 budget was presented and approved at the September 28 Board of Directors meeting. Our assessments will be increasing, attributable mainly to the County mandating curbside recycling which will increase our costs by $8 a month per household.

The allocation for legal expenses was increased by 300 percent — from $3,000 in 2016 to $9,000 in 2017. Why? Because that is about what the Board has already spent in 2016 and in their wisdom they want to continue wasting our money on unnecessary expenditures rather than finding ways to cut back. One of the major causes of the runaway legal expenditures is the dysfunction of the Board. Three members have resigned mid-term. A very expensive dispute resolution involving Jim Bailey and the other Board members occurred in July. All attendees signed a non-disclosure agreement. In mid-September Jim Bailey resigned.

At the September Board meeting I asked if the legal costs of the dispute resolution were the cause of the legal budget being overspent so drastically. President Paiz said it was. I asked how much that unsuccessful dispute resolution cost and Paiz said he could not tell me because it was confidential. He said he would have to ask Lynn Krupnik, who received payment for the dispute resolution, if it was “OK to release the information.” He stated that it would cost $250 to get an answer, Ms. Krupnik’s hourly rate. Apparently she does not bill in anything less than hourly increments. All RVS residents pay for the attorney’s services and we have the right to know the amount paid to her. While the content of the dispute may be confidential, the cost is not.

Rancho Viejo North has a legal budget of $2,000 and it usually goes unspent. Why does Rancho Viejo South spend so much more? The North has a Board composed of rational people who solve disagreements without involving an attorney. Our Board likes to waste residents’ money on their internal disputes and asking for legal advice from Ms. Krupnik on ridiculous things. Our Board does not represent the interests of residents. They are a disgrace.

Unfinished Business from July Board Meeting Will Most Likely Influence September Meeting

The July Board Meeting was a mixed bag.  It was cordial, but after a statement by Pres. Paiz that this board gets along well and he doesn’t anticipate any more resignations, Director Corbin read a list of grievances on how she was being treated by other board members.  These issues included:

  • No board communications with Director Corbin since April.  Meanwhile, the “no emails between mtgs” policy was violated by two other directors.
  • Directors Corbin and Bailey were left out of two meetings which could have been rescheduled.  She believes that personality conflicts and lack of common business consideration are factors.  [Directors Buhl and Pfeifer were also left out of board meetings during their terms.]
  • After calling Atty Krupnik, she didn’t receive a call back; the Association Attorney should be supporting all directors.  [Directors Buhl and Pfeifer received similar treatment during a previous term.]
  • Dir. Thompson cut her out of Neighborhood Watch communications, wouldn’t allow her to be the Treasurer, and didn’t post two requested notices. Note: NW is an organization separate from HOA management.
  • Five directors blocked her from the dispute resolution meeting that removed Jim Bailey from the presidency. Pres. Paiz claimed this was out of the board’s control because the Atty recommended it.  [Directors Buhl and Pfeifer received similar treatment during a previous term.]
  • BOD Meeting scheduling should allow all residents to attend.  Dir. Corbin does not think the board should treat some residents less well than others; they need to stop preventing residents from serving on Committees when they are capable and willing.

It appears to this former director that the Association Attorney continues to run our HOA. It’s way past time for the board to resolve old conflicts, end the power plays and resignations, follow the bylaws, and include all directors in decision-making.  Doing otherwise is unprofessional and expensive.

Other Meeting Highlights:

  • Pres. Paiz. agreed to alternate daytime and evening meetings – and change which day because of the fire department’s schedule, if nevessary.
  • Barbara Boyd resigned to pursue retirement goals.  Her vacancy will not be filled, despite M. Kaplan being next in number of votes during the election.
  • Per Vince Montoya, new HOAMCO software is causing problems with website.
  • Infrastructure: seal coat is done.  Final pmt pending.  Question over price of oil and impact on quote. Windmill Ridge 2 quote was over 150K.  Need other bids.  Planning for next June/July.  Paying out of reserves, but fee increase expected.  Budget & Finance Comm looking at it.
  • Chris Schatzman and Bruno are negotiating with Ranchland Utilities.  Aging, maintenance, operations, and pond are issues.  Spending money on upgrades – we have to maintain filters and lines that HOA is responsible for.  Inoperable valves are being repaired.
  • Financials thru June – irrigation and landscaping expenditures are impacting budget.  Reserves decreased $60K from pavement preservation.  $93K lower in total cash and A/R, operating account, plus reserve expenditures.  Balance sheet is within parameters.  Income slightly ahead of budgeted because of billing cycle.  Expenses better than last month.  Net Income at a loss (1933.93), but improving – running behind last year.  Delinquencies were previously 113K – down to 95K.  [This is up from $60-80K in previous years.]
  • Landscaping: Had an ABQ company look at irrigation clocks to better understand system.  Filters were compacted from pond algae blooms. RU says pond is HOA resp. Really affects WR 4.  Pressure dropped to 20 psi – couldn’t run pop-ups.  Asked RU to boost to 35 – they refused.  Unexplained lack of water in mid-July turned out to be failed pump motor.  Repairs/shut-offs mean street-scapes not getting water; RU installing variable drives.  Water Buffalo planned for stressed trees in WR4 and spine park.  Chair Trujillo asked for money for add’l cleaning of filters.  Installing gravel at Panther Peak park.  B&F Committee approved.  Per resident, Heads-Up removed a tree at end of Chili Line – suggested replacing with xeric plants.
  • Safety Comm: recent bobcat sitings.
  • DRC: no issues.
  • Communications: saved $4K.  New newsletter format.  Donna Naes solicits articles from residents.  Defined “Ex-Officio”.  Committee of one is a committee.
  • Town Homes: new driveways.  Going to meet every other month.  Budget OK.  Pigeons still an issue.
  • Neighbor to Neighbor Food Drive motion introduced by Dir. Thompson.  Heads-Up would drop off grocery bags at front doors – HOAMCO would pay for bags.  Concern over absent owners and potential crime.   North decided against because they didn’t want to set a precedent for other groups.  No second on motion – died.
  • Donna Naes application for Communications Committee was accepted.
  • Glen Smerage asked why people keep resigning from board.  Pres. Paiz said that people don’t understand time commitment and sometimes personalities don’t meld well; this board gets along well and he doesn’t anticipate more resignations.
  • Discussion about RV Blvd and NE/SE Connector – up to County and State.  Funding is an issue.
  • Annie McGovern asked to reconsider gravel at Panther Peak because of safety and liability issues.  Schools do not use gravel.  Also creates hot spot.

In summary, the good news is that the board, committee chairs, and HOAMCO are making progress on infrastructure and repairs.  The not-so-good news is the price tag and its impact on reserves.  Assessment increases are certainly in our future.