Tag Archives: Annual Meeting

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.

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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.

Annual Meeting Recap

Despite having an agenda with 20 minutes allocated to resident questions and comments, for the second year in a row, no resident input at the end of the meeting was allowed. What did the Board consider more important?

The Board hired the facilitator of the irrigation meetings to conduct a silly group exercise. We were also treated to a 10-minute picture presentation of the Community Manager driving around the community. Yes, those two things were way more significant than answering resident questions or listening to their comments.

The firm of Swain and Grieco made a presentation of their recently completed audit. They stated there were no material findings. However, the audit contains the following language.

“An audit involves performing procedures to obtain audit evidence about the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements. The procedures selected depend on the auditor’s judgment, including the assessment of the risks of material misstatement of the financial statements, whether due to fraud or error. In making those risk assessments, the auditor considers internal control relevant to the entity’s preparation and fair presentation of the financial statements in order to design audit procedures that are appropriate in the circumstances, but not for the purpose of expressing an opinion on the effectiveness of the Association’s internal control.”

Also we now have a situation where the one individual fills both the Board president and the treasurer positions. That is not a good practice from the standpoint of checks and balances.

Change in Annual Meeting Proxy Voting

This has been mentioned elsewhere but I just want to make clear that a change  has occurred this year for proxy voting. In previous elections, owners could give their proxy forms to their designated proxies to hand in at the meeting.

This year the proxy form states that all proxies must be delivered to the RVS Community Manager’s office before 5 p.m. today.  So if you have not done so yet, get your proxy forms in. Better yet, attend the meeting tomorrow night and vote in person.

The Bylaws require that proxies be delivered to the Board Secretary, not to the Community Manager.

How Many Sets of Financial Statements Does the Board Keep? Part 2

The HOAMCO community manager responded to my initial post about two sets of financial records by sending an e-mail to all residents saying that there are two versions of the financial statements “because any delinquent resident accounts cannot be made available to the entire membership. There are times when some residents may have difficulty paying their dues and such information must remain sensitive and confidential out of respect to your neighbors and friends… Posting of these delinquent accounts would be a violation of these residents privacy and would lead to a certain lawsuit for the Association.”

That is utter nonsense. While records of delinquencies must be kept, only the total amount in arrears need be aggregated in a financial statement. Furthermore, the HOA files liens against residents who have large outstanding dues balances. Those liens are public records that anyone can view. The Board will have to come up with a different lame excuse as to why there are two versions of financial statements.

Despite my request, once again the Board has refused to provide year-to-date expenditures in the financial materials sent out with the Annual Meeting notice. Only the 2016 budget was included. Residents have a right to know if the Board is adhering to budgeted amounts.

The fact that the Board refuses to provide this information just makes me more suspicious about how our dues are being spent.

September 22 Board of Directors Meeting — Disrespect for Homeowners Continues

When the Board meetings were moved to the large meeting room in the Firehouse several months ago, the tables were arranged in a horseshoe-shape. At the meeting held last Tuesday, the tables were positioned in a rectangle so that the backs of at least two members were facing the residents in attendance.  This is a perfect metaphor for how this Board treats residents. They have turned their backs on us.

At the beginning of the meeting ten minutes is allotted for resident comments on agenda items. That means that you have to be clairvoyant about what the Board discussion will address. Residents are not allowed to ask questions during the discussion of an item, even for purposes of clarification. At the end of the meeting five minutes is allocated for resident comments for non-agenda items. Each person is allocated two minutes which means no more than three people can speak. At the end of two minutes you are basically told to sit down and shut up. Our community manager stated that most HOAs are run this way. Residents are allowed only to listen, not speak. I beg to differ. I have belonged to other HOAs that allocated adequate time and welcomed input without rudeness.

Our Board members think that residents are a nuisance who have no right to have any input in decisions that affect our community and our pocketbooks. Several residents had written a letter to the Board a week prior to the meeting asking that it sponsor a candidate forum prior to the upcoming election so residents could get opinions from candidates on the expensive and complex issues that face us next year.  We got no response. At the Board meeting I asked if they would sponsor such a forum and they just stared at each other. Nobody responded. I asked another question. Last year I asked Carol Thompson to include the YTD HOA expenditures in the annual meeting packet and she said she would. That was a lie. The spreadsheet was not included. I asked that the expenditures be included this year. She refused to answer me. Really? Residents are not entitled to know how much of their money is spent and how?

WE DESERVE BETTER THAN THIS RUDE, OFFENSIVE BEHAVIOR.

Other Board Actions

The Budget

The budget, again put together without any resident input, was approved for 2016. There will be a $10 a month increase in assessments for the Master Association. This will help replenish our reserve fund. Townhome residents received a small decrease in assessments. The community manager who received a hefty 20 percent increase last year got a nine percent increase this year bringing his salary up to $78,500. I have a feeling he is the highest paid community manager in New Mexico.

Financials

Despite being required to have a Treasurer, the Board has not had one for over a year. It was revealed at the meeting that two members of the Finance Committee resigned. The third member is involved in a dispute with the Board and will likely not be in his position much longer. So there will be nobody overseeing this important component of the HOA.

HOAMCO Contract

The HOAMCO contract was approved automatically without going out to bid for the seventh year in a row. A contract of this dollar value should periodically go out for competitive bid.

Annual Election

The Board intends to pursue the same unethical voting procedures it employed last year. Mr. Montoya finally admitted that the women who did the vote counting last year were his family’s “acquaintances.”

The Board intends to allow him to:

  • electioneer via email for current Board members,
  • vote as a proxy,
  • to receive and open the proxy ballots,
  • hire and supervise his “acquaintances” to count the ballots.

Does any of this seem like a conflict of interest? Mr. Montoya is an employee of a company that is hired by the Board. He is not a resident yet he controls the entire election process. This is unacceptable.

This is a dysfunctional Board that is not representing the best interests of residents. We need a new Board.

Please folks, if you care about your community and your HOA expenses, consider running. There are five positions open this year. Most of the current Board members were handpicked by the President based on their willingness to never challenge her, no matter what she does. We need honest, fair Board members who will listen to residents and not treat us in the contemptuous way this Board does.

Upcoming Election — Nominating Committee

Our Bylaws require that there be a Nominating Committee to oversee elections. This has usually been ignored. Finally, this year it appears that such a committee will be formed. However, rather than issuing a public request for volunteers, the Board — which makes the appointments — is doing this in private and hand-picking members.

The Board has made several pronouncements about being transparent, yet it continues to operate in secret. The appointments are being made at tomorrow’s Board meeting. If you can, please attend this meeting at 1 p.m. at the fire station. If you object to how this is being handled, please sign up to speak about item 3 on the agenda.