Minutes: 12/17/2008

December 17, 2008, 7:00 PM at the Farm Bureau Pavilion, Palmer Blvd. Sarasota, FL

Directors Present: Gary Walsh, Joe Stewart, Dolly Fenix, LaNae Duchesneau
Meeting called to order at 7:12 p.m.

Present and/or represented were 38 of the 65 homeowners of the Meadow Walk community, thereby constituting the necessary majority. Reading of the 2007 annual meeting minutes was dispensed with as it was noted as being available on the MW Website.


1.1 Maintenance and Repairs in 2008

a.) Front Perimeter Wall: 1.1 Power-washing to prep the walls for repainting revealed more extensive areas for stucco repair than expected. The previous contractor, who painted the wall reneged on the warranty on the wall’s finish, so added expense was incurred for the 2008 painting job. Benjamin Moore paints carrying a warranty of 7 years were used on the 1,100 foot wall. Both inside and outside of the walls were painted and the original two-toned color restored. An annual power-washing has to be scheduled and budgeted for to maintain the wall’s finish.

b.) Front entrance to Meadow Walk: Broken light fixtures were replaced by Eddie Martin the week of December 7th. Unfortunately one other has just been reported as newly broken. These incidents have been recurring and it was requested that the youth in general and particularly those waiting for the school bus or passing through be enjoined and instructed at home, to respect and help maintain the neighborhood’s common and private property and surroundings. It was also strongly suggested that they be suprvised so that we can better determine whether the vandalism is being done by individuals within our community or by outsiders. Some middle schoolers were seen lobbing stones against the walls.

c.) Entrance island landscape: Refurbishing of the plantings and trimming of the palms were not done this past year because of insufficient funds. Available funds were used for more pressing expenses.

d.) Grounds maintainance crew: The current crew maintaining the common grounds and areas are charging a reasonable amount, their fees costing us less than it did 3 years ago. However the association could discuss with them the incllusion in their maintainance of the north and south sides of Meadow Walk as well. These would be the palm trees at the entrance and along the north walls of our development, and the bushes on the south side, which need nurturing in order to maintain the natural boundary they provide along the perimeter separating Meadow Walk from the neighboring development. If negotiations for this added service are not successful, then new bids for a maintenance crew can be sought out.

1.2 Communications via email were acknowledged from the following residents: Dina Hyman, Deb Salisbury, Janet Dunay. Matters pertaining to these communications were taken up at the appropriate part of the agenda.

2.0 Treasurer’s Report: This report was given by Gary Walsh in view of the fact that no volunteer has spoken for the task of Treasurer. Hopefully the elections this evening will yield a new board member to take on this work. The MWAI acknowledges and thanks Mr. Walsh for carrying on this extra work on top of all his own private endeavors.

2.1 Low level of funds in 2008 caused by:

a.) Foreclosures: Due to the current real estate and financial crisis, several homes in our community unfortunately are facing foreclosures. While deeply empathizing with our affected neighbors, the communitiy of Meadow Walk has to keep functioning in the best possible way to ensure an ongoing and healthy viability of a quality of life and property.

Holding Banks: This year banks holding property in foreclosure had the right to declare that they could refuse to pay or settle arrears and collectibles owed to the homeowners’ association by the affected property. The onus was on the homeowners’ association to legally respond within a statute of time or loose rightful claims to collect. To respond MWAI had to avail of the services of a lawyer.

Small Claims Court: Experience in small claims court has shown that an incorporated group, like the MWAI, cannot make claims without attorney representation. Lawyer representations with banks and courts have added unexpected costs to the operations of the association. The irony is that these added costs pertain to properties on which much of the late and uncollected dues have accrued.

Update on foreclosures: Lot 26 has been sold and claims are being made with the holding bank in Ohio. Lot 21 is being transacted with the Wells Fargo Bank and representations will be made with that bank.

It is hoped for that other homeowner/neighbors facing the possibility of an emerging foreclosure are able to get fair and just arrangements with their holding banks, who will in turn honor any payments due the MWHOA.

b.) Late payment of dues and collectibles: The Board acknowledged and thanked the residents who sent in their association dues on time during this past year. The Board also appealed to the residents who in the past needed several follow-ups and reminders about their dues, to promptly send in their payments. In 2007 and 2008 quarterly payment of dues was accommodated, but it was observed that this accommodation only made for an erratic input of funds. It was difficult to securely project and disburse funds to pay for services and emergent needs. It is the end of the year and there are still collectibles caused in part by late dues for 2008 and court sanctions on several property.

Some residents said that they had expected the former practice of receiving payment vouchers for their dues. It had been explained that the use of vouchers, was connected with Peoples Community Bank, the former bank of that the association dealt with. Service by that bank was terminated as there were instances of late crediting of collected funds into the association’s account. The current bank of the associaiton is the RBC Centura Bank on Fruitville, which has been the bank of use since April 2007. Residents had been, and still are instructed to mail their payment checks to the MWAI address (P.O. Box 51533, Sarasota, FL 34232) where Gary Walsh collects the mail twice a week in order to make timely deposits. Payments could also have been given directly to Mr. Walsh at his home address.

The Board then would like to remind all residents and homeowners that MWHOA Article III Section 3.5 calls for the one time, full payment of annual dues by January 1st of every incoming year. The Board strongly suggested to the assembly to revert back to this original schedule of payment to ensure that funds are in bank for the incoming year.

c.) Distribution of Financial and Budget Information: 2008 Financial Information: This sheet was distributed to the assembly. Cash reserves should have come to $1,850.00, but in stead a shortfall of $3,799.02 resulted. Collectibles comprised of uncollected fees (about 25%) and monies affected by court judgements (about 75%).

2009 Budget Projections: This projection was also distributed to the assembly. The new budget calls for an approximate increase of 25% for expenditures, which covers more realistic projections and appropriations. It also called for a cash reserve of $3,800.00 for 2009.

Discussion: Having a reserve of funds makes for more stable operations for the needs of Meadow Walk . It also enhances future review by parties interested in our community by showing added value to the property because of the existence of a viable and well functioning homeowners association.

In answer to a query, it was clarified that our streetlights are charged by FPL on a fixed rate per pole, the costs of which is not affected by the rates surcharge. Replacement of burnt out bulbs can called in to FPL by the resident closest to the pole and giving the pole’s id number. Under Florida law every development has to pay for their own street lights.

Postage and delivery: The cost of postage can be minimized if we have some volunteers who can walk community wide letters and notices to each address, as some board members


1.0 Wetlands and the Littoral Shelf: Meadow Walk is again in non-compliance with SWFMD standards for the maintenance of our lakes, ponds, wetlands and littoral shelf. The current naturalist, Jim Henslick had submitted three reports for the year , each costing approximatedly $300. And yet we are not in compliance. An effective relationship and service by the currently contracted person seems to be failing. It was suggested that the association solicit bids for a new naturalist to help the MWAI maintain our common grounds. Five years ago we had a highly successful and cooperative community project wherein volunteer neighbors did extensive plantings. We are again being asked to refurbish and replant the necessary species to be in compliance. This an urgent matter as we face fines of $100. per period of non-compliance. There is need to activate resident volunteers for this much needed work.

The grasscutting maintenance crew cannot let cut grass fall into the wetlands, lakes and ponds. They also cannot cut into the ditches along the road as that is maintained by the county.

2.0 Collection of HOA dues: Quarterly payment of dues have resulted in erratic and delayed collections. This practice will be eliminated.

Dues will be collected again according to the association’s Articles prescribing the payment of annual dues in full on January 1st of the incoming year. Dues will be in arrears and fines and sanctions imposed, as allowed law , after the due date.

Raising of dues: Based on 60 functional properties, it was proposed that annual dues be raised from $450. to $600. annually. This will enable the budget to have some reserve funds of about $3,800. for 2009. This is a very reasonable amount in comparison to other developments. After several other calculations for an increase in dues were discussed, $600. per year was approved as a reasonable amount.

In response to the comment as to why are putting up reserves when no capital expenditures are scheduled in 2009. The answer was that $7000.- $8000. is the amount that will offer a more secure buffer for unexpected shortfalls, and that the projected and hoped for surplus of $3,800. in 2009 is just a starting figure. As time progresses and needs and costs change or emerge, the matter of reserve funds can be re-discussed.

A raise in dues resulting from a discussion of real-time budgetary needs is favorable to the ad hoc measure of prescribing special assessments from time to time.

Schedule of payment: It was proposed and approved that HOA dues be payable in one full payment by January 1st. Given the economic times a bi-annual schedule of $300. due on January 1st and the second $300. due in July 1st will be accommodated in 2009.

Moving the MWHOA fiscal year to start on July 1st, to help make HOA payments due at more financially benign periods of the year was taken up. It was noted that this can be done with a consensus approval by 66% of the members of the MWAI. This will have to be scheduled as a special project if it is to be acted on.

The issue of the monies in the MWHOA coffers in recent years past, that to date have not been clearly and fully accounted for was brought up. These funds referred to the alleged relatively large payments to contractors, that had insufficient documentation , as well as wetlands related disbursements. The community still wants this to be answered. Addressing these issues will help determine and ensure better fiscal practices.


It was moved and seconded by the assembly of residents that:

The proposed budget for 2009 be approved and adopted.

The MWHOA, homeowners dues for 2009 be raised to the annual rate of $600.; Payable either in one lump sum in January 2009, or in two portions of $300. Payable in January 2009 and the second half of $300. payable in July 2009.

*Bids will be solicited for the following services too compare for best cost and range of service: (1) Common grounds maintenance crew (2) Naturalist contracted for supervision and maintenance of compliance with SWFMD of our wetlands, lakes and ponds and littoral shelf.


1.0 Election of Officers: There were 4 official candidates on the ballots for a seat on the Board of Directors, namely: Shana Bickel, Lanae Duchesneau, Janet Dunay, and Joe Stewart, and a write in candidate: David Johnson.

The committee of ballot canvassers were Julie Donaldson, Vivia Martin and Nancy Dellaccio who counted the ballots.

The results from 43 ballots cast showed a relatively close count given to each candidate. The rule of the three highest votes went to : Shana Bickel, Janet Dunay and Joe Stewart.

2.0 The Members and Officers of the MWAI Board for 2009 are: President: Gary Walsh, Vice President: Joe Stewart, Treasurer: Shana Bickel, Secretary: Dolly Fenix,
Member: Janet Dunay

New Board’s Initial Meeting:
Gary will continue to monitor the foreclosures and court requirements.
Shana will take over the Treasurer’s duties from Gary and will take care of billing and posting.
Joe will continue to work on making the MWAI more actively used.
Janet will work on an updated directory for the neighborhood.
Dolly will take care of correspondence and files.

3.0 The Quarterly Board Meetings for 2009 continue to be held at the Fruitville Library as scheduled:

March 30, 2009, Monday 6:30 - 7:45 p.m.
June 24, 2009, Wednesday 6:30 - 7:45 p.m.
September 30, 2009, Wednesday 6:30 - 7:45 p.m.
December 16, 2009, Wednesday 6:30 - 7:45 p.m. Annual Meeting

Special Meetings will be called as needed.

4.0 A new Modifications Committee was completed and the volunteer-members:
Eddie Martin
Jennifer Schaeffer
Betsy Dane
Joe Stewart as the Board Member - Liaison

The committee will meet when a request for a modification review is submitted by a homeowner. Joe Stewart will advise and update the Board whenever the Modifications Committee is called upon to meet. He will also bring up with the Board whatever uncommon and special modification issues comes up in a modification request. The Board can take these special matters up a special meeting, or at their regular quarterly meeting, however necessary to assist the Modifications Committee in completing the timely response to the homeowner.

Meeting adjourned at 9:00 p.m.