Newsletter #73 October-November 2002
An Open Letter to All Landowners from the Treasurer
I agreed to be Treasurer of Walker Lake Landowners Association late last spring. For those of you who want to know my background, until last year I was the Executive Director of a New York City law firm (which means I ran the business) and I have a Masters of Business Administration degree in Finance. I did not have a great deal of previous knowledge about how or why things were done by previous Boards or Treasurers and frankly I do not believe it serves any useful purpose to continuously discuss the past or how badly things were handled. I believe my job is to do my best to get the Association´s finances on track and to make sure that everyone understands what is being done, what is being asked of landowners, and why they are being asked to pay their assessments.
There are three separate assessments that are billed to various landowners, based on which section they are in. Since everyone has the use of the lake, everyone is required to pay a Lake Assessment. This includes people in Walker Lake Inc., Pa. Lakeshores, Hinkel Estates and Maple Park. Those people living in Pa. Lakeshores and on East Shore Drive are required to pay a Road Assessment that pays for the maintenance, upkeep and plowing of those roads. Maple Park, West Shore Drive and Hinkel Estates pay for their own roads. Hinkel Estates and East Shore Drive landowners are required to pay Association Membership Fees, while everyone else is asked to pay this small fee to help maintain the Beaches and Grounds, the clubhouse, and all of the administrative services it takes to make sure the lake is clean and healthy, the roads are in good condition and there are things for our enjoyment, like tennis courts. Association membership also gives you the right to vote and decide who is on the Board of Directors, as well as the right to use the clubhouse and the beaches.
Our lawyers inform us that a right to use property also has an obligation to be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of that property and that if there were no Walker Lake Landowners Association either the State of Pennsylvania or the County could and probably would appoint someone to oversee the property under the Pa. Planned Communities Act and assess landowners for necessary administration, maintenance and upkeep. Anyone who thinks they can simply not pay is not correct. Sadly, a number of people have chosen not to meet this responsibility.
We have sent out the first in a series of letters to people who have not paid their assessments. We will follow this up shortly with a second letter and will publish the names of those landowners who owe monies in the next newsletter so that those who do meet their responsibilities and pay their share can see the names of those who do not. We will make a third attempt to collect back assessments by letter before we turn accounts over to a collection agency. The Board has a responsibility to those who pay their fair share to do its best to collect from those who refuse to do so.
We have told people that if they have a specific problem with paying assessments we will make arrangements for partial payments. We have also received a number of letters from people who hold single or double lots which are not buildable and do not seem to be saleable. We have received correspondence from people who are heirs of deceased owners or children of parents no longer able to pay their assessments or who are no longer competent. We are reviewing these situations on an individual basis and will do our best to treat people fairly. We are also attempting to investigate a method by which people can turn unwanted property over to the Association or to the Twin and Walker Creeks Watershed Conservancy and perhaps get a tax deduction for the value of the property and get rid of something they do not want at the same time.
I am in the process of preparing a budget for 2003 and believe that to cover the costs of road maintenance and upkeep and Association expenses we will need to increase both the road assessments and association fees. We pay a very small amount of money for the simple services that we get and as costs continue to increase we will not be able to meet our expenses without these increases. We also need to be able to cover extraordinary expenses such as the cost this year (because of June storm damage) of having to completely redo Iroquois, Algonquin and Cahoonzie Roads or the recent problem we have had at the Clubhouse with a water main break and the need to replace our old oil tank.
The Finance Committee will recommend to the Board of Directors that Association fees be raised from $45.00 to $65.00 and that road assessments are raised from their current levels of $115 to $150 (up to 1 acre), $150 to $200 (1 acre to 2.2 acres) and $250 to $334.50 (over 2.2 acres). If everyone pays their share these increases should cover our expenses. There will be no recommendation to raise lake assessments, which brings us to another issue.
The costs of running the office and paying the personnel who work there have always been shared among the lake, road and association assessments. In years past they were divided one-third to each category, which we do not believe adequately dealt with the amount of work involved in dealing with lake issues, and then in more recent years they were allocated heavily towards the lake. We have reviewed this allocation and as of 2003, expenses for administrative categories will be allocated 60% to lakes, 25% to roads and the remaining 15% to association. I have worked with our outside accountants on this and we believe this is a fair distribution. We will revisit it as necessary. Those items which we can directly attribute to a specific category (like roads) will be paid for from the appropriate assessment.
A few years ago lake assessments were doubled and people were told that this was necessary to cover the costs of future dredging which would be needed, in addition to other lake improvements. A number of people have questioned how that money has been spent and why a specific lake reserve account was not set up and maintained. We have done our best to verify what previous Boards did with the funds. We have determined that $36,992 was used to purchase a portion of the Lake Bottom from the Trustee in Bankruptcy of Charles Swezy and to effect repairs to the dam and wall. These are valid expenses for a reserve account. An additional $40,000 was used to help fund the office addition to the clubhouse, which our lawyer advises us was also appropriate since much of the business, which must be conducted for the Walker Lake Landowners Association, relates to the lake. The amount transferred to the road funds for repairs was $10,7794. This was not a valid use of lake reserve funds and should be reimbursed.
Given the above information, if we use the number that was published in December of 2000 of $17,409.15 as the balance of the Lake reserve account and then add to it half of the lake assessments received in 2001 and 2002, (receipts are through Aug 31, 2002) the balance of a lake reserve account should be $86,151. This does not include reimbursement of the monies spent on roads ($10,794). This is not an exact accounting of every dollar but we feel it is a fair way of trying to correct past errors without bankrupting the Association. The monies were spent for items, which needed to be paid. They were not used for personal gain. We have established a separate road reserve, lake reserve and capital improvement reserve accounts. The capital improvements account will deal with issues such as a roof repair or a boiler replacement. We will fund those accounts at this time with $25,000 to the road reserve, $65,000 to the lake reserve and $10,000 to the capital improvement account. All other funds will be used to cover our expenses for the rest of the year. We will attempt over the next few years to reimburse the rest of the monies used from the lake reserve (to an additional total of $31,945). We will make sure that future monies are appropriately designated and separated.
A number of people have rightly complained that they did not know what was going on or how monies were being spent. I hope that this has helped to clarify those issues for you. We all have chosen to live in this community. We need to work together to make it a better place to be. I am trying to do my part. I hope you will all do yours.
I will be happy to hear from any of you. Linda Cioppa, Treasurer 570 296 6482
Twin & Walker Creeks Watershed Conservancy; President´s Report, Oct. 2002:
We hope that you were able to attend our last meeting on October 5th. Some of you were able to have your drinking water tested. We learned that keeping our watershed healthy is of prime importance to all of us. Our monitors report that our lakes are full and clean. We aim to keep them that way. Your cooperation is vital. Remember that we not only play on our lakes and streams but also drink the water in the aquifer below. Thus, any harmful material that goes onto or into your property will reappear in the water supply, streams and lakes. At the present time, our water is fine but can we keep it that way? We are studying other potential problems. Our last newsletter discusses the zebra mussel infestation, so I won´t elaborate here. We need to also be concerned about the infestation of the non-native wooly adelgid, an Asian import that kills most of the hemlock trees it attacks by sucking sap from the trees´ needles, causing defoliation. The infestation shows as a white mass on the needles. The tree eventually turns brown and dies. The adelgid may be hard to see right now as they are dormant in the summer and begin to feed again in the fall. In the spring, you will see a devastated tree grove. The first signs of this infestation began fifty years ago. They have killed three-quarters of the hemlocks in Shenandoah National Park. Trees in New Jersey and the Delaware Water Gap are also being eaten along with eighty percent of the Fraser firs in the Great Smokey Mountains. A predator beetle, Pseudocymnus tsugae, has been used to control the adelgid. The cost is prohibitive, at $2.00 per beetle with 200 per tree needed. The beetle is a selective predator, only eating adelgid and will therefore remain on the tree. Chemical spraying is less effective and expensive but could save thousands of dollars in trees on your property. Spraying with a soap solution, starting now, is worth a try. This spring could bring good results and save a lot of money. We have a web presence within Pennsylvania´s Department of Environmental Protection website. Find us at www.dep.state.pa.us/growgreen/. Jeff Seeds, of Walker Lake, is working to establish our own website to keep us all up to date. That site is not ready yet but will be at www. twcwc.com. Email is established at firstname.lastname@example.org. Write us with your concerns. Zoning rules are constantly changing. Shohola approved changes to ordinances regarding exceptions to the 50-foot rule from water bodies. There are limits to: dock extensions, patios, and structural walkways. Covered structures are not permitted within this 50-foot barrier even on private lakefront properties. The Shohola Supervisors meet every first Thursday of the month, we need to be there and make our concerns known. Changes in Township, County, State and Federal Laws will affect our mission. We must assure waters remain healthy and pleasant, understand the characteristics of our watershed, protect, restore and enhance our watershed, encourage participation, and cooperate with other organizations. We would like to thank you for your excellent show of interest. We all realize that our health and property values are at stake. We are asking that you renew your membership for 2002 - 2003. Some of you have already contributed for our third year. We take the time to thank our members by sending a letter affirming their membership and/or contribution and reminding them that their contribution is tax deductible. Have we missed you? We have sent out brochures and newsletters. If you have not received any information, please call the clubhouse so Linda Ott can put your address into our folder. Again, thanks to everyone who has joined and volunteered in our endeavor. Dr. Ralph Cioppa
150TH ANNIVERSARY OF SHOHOLA - SEPTEMBER 21:
We hope you were able to participate in the gala day at the Shohola Fire House. If you didn´t make it, you missed a really good time. Walker Lake was the only community in the area represented and we had a display of pictures, old and new, representing the area of Walker Lake, Parkers Glen, Shohola, as well as social events at the clubhouse, etc. People in this community added a great deal of information and memories. Thanks to them all. Sitting there at the table for 8 hours, we met so many people we have not seen for years and met residents of Walker Lake we had never met. It was a good day. There are so many people to thank and I am sure I will forget someone, but bear with me and, if you were left out, let me know. First of all Barbara Di Maio began getting the pictures and contacting people. On September the 17th Di Maios head down to their home in Florida, so I took over with the scheduling the committees, etc. Norma Paladino was responsible for rounding up pictures and putting together the scrapbooks and framing pictures (which will be hung in the clubhouse for all to see). The scrapbooks will be taken to the office and Linda will pick decide the best place for them so people can see them. Dave Kirk made up an album on the Conservancy and Dave and Hazel Vandeventer supplied pictures of the flood of 1955, which resulted in great damage to the Parkers Glen and Shohola area. Marge Goldschnieder worked diligently to collect an array of perennials to sell at our table for the benefit of our Association. Marge also made 3 floral arrangements to raffle off. Jane Walts was good enough to make phone calls asking people to donate cakes. We had a good selection and people enjoyed the brownies and muffins we sold individually as well as full cakes. Phyllis Gambino led this committee and made pennant price tags for each cake/cookie/brownie or muffin we sold. Phyllis and Roy Gambino and Marge Goldschneider helped Jack and I set up at 8 AM. Barbara Silver made bookmarks to sell as well. Our members who tended tables answering the questions of the people who looked at our display and selling our wares were: Linda and Frank Dubowski, Fran and Phil Orth, Peggy Dodge and Barbara Silver, Jane McGurty Perna and Dot Meyer. They all did a great job. Also thanks to Richard Tritschler, Association President, who loaned us 3 easels for the display of our pictures. Richard asked me to extend the Associations thanks to all of our workers as they did an excellent job. We have a faithful few who are always willing to help and finding enjoyment in what they do rewards them. As Barbara would say, Hugs and Kisses to you all.’ There were many tables, but we were the only community proud enough to want to show the public what a great place this is. Let´s all keep up the good work and come join us at our next effort, which is the Halloween Pot Luck Supper on October 26. There was a parade of the fire, medical and police equipment, old and new, and all of the people who contribute their time and talents serving our area. It was very impressive and we all extend our thanks to them. Unfortunately, we missed the opening ceremony and most of the entertainment as we were back on the field, but the marching band came back and played and we all enjoyed it. The evening was ended by a display of fireworks, which I heard was wonderful. Sorry Jack and I missed it, but we were exhausted when we left at 6:30. Exhausted, but happy because of all the people we met and old friends we got to pass the time with and tell about WALKER LAKE.
Thanks to Chet & Pat Dawson who help Dave Kirk with Lake testing. They are his right
hands--among many unsung volunteers in our community. And thanks to Jeff Seeds for cleaning up the weeds in lake water, as well as to Bill Mays for cleaning off the float of geese droppings early in the season. Appreciation to Joe & Olga Siroki on Mohawk for keeping their road in tip top shape by adding their own stone to prevent deterioration. Note that the Burn Ban has been lifted. Burn responsibly!
BLACK BEAR FILM FESTIVAL OCT. 10-14:
website: http://www.blackbearfilm.com Volunteers needed: call 570-409-0909.
HALLOWEEN POT LUCK SUPPPER SAT. OCTOBER 26TH, 5:30 P.M.
Annual potluck supper in the Read Clubhouse. We will present DJ Spade who will entertain you with great music. He has lots of CDs, so You Name it, he will play it.’ So mark your calendars and start planning now. Decide what you will make, then make enough for 10 people to share and bring it on down! Make sure to bring your family and friends. Please call Dot Meyer (296-7759) or the WLLA office (296-7788) and let us know how many will attend so that we can prepare the hall. Costumed folks of all ages are most welcome. Prizes will be awarded for the strangest, scariest, most hilarious weirdest and most original costumes. Come and have a wonderful evening.
Please make sure your house street number is visible from the street so emergency vehicles can respond properly should a situation arise.
Give the gift of a portrait to your loved ones at holiday time. Renowned NYC photographer, Judy Kirtley Mays (Mrs. Bill Mays), a resident of Walker Lake, is available to meet with you, share her portfolio, and discuss your photographic ideas and desires. Call 570-290-2134 or 212-929-4802.
If you want something to be included in the next newsletter please notify Bill Mays, newsletter editor (296-2134 or, better, e-mail info to email@example.com). Deadline for submitting items for the December/January newsletter is Nov. 24th
October 12, November 9, December 14--all at 10:00 a.m.