OPEN LETTER TO SUISSEVALE MEMBERS
It is unfortunate that I am compelled to write this letter in response to inaccurate and misleading information that has recently been disseminated to our membership both in the form of website postings (LoveSuissevale) and direct letter mailings forwarded to many of our Association members.
The purpose of this letter is to refute those inaccuracies by clearly stating the facts associated with some of the topics raised.
First, the website posting claims that the Board of Directors “summarily dismissed” a member’s proposal to modify our boat dock policies. That claim is false. The member was allotted ample time to air his thoughts and beliefs at a regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Directors. In response, one of our Board members addressed each and every topic he raised and explained our policy and position accordingly. Thereafter, the same member followed up with a letter again requesting a formal response to his request. Promptly thereafter, a letter was drafted and forwarded to him. By no means was his request summarily dismissed.
The LoveSuissevale letter has also criticized the Board of Directors for not charging “market value” to our dock users. It suggests that we should charge our dock users either the cost to secure a dock in a public marina or the amount charged by public marinas for valet service. These are false equivalencies. Public marinas are for-profit businesses and homeowners and condo associations are not. Public marinas offer customers numerous amenities which homeowners and condo associations do not, including gas, service, a store, among other amenities. They have overhead costs that are very different from the overhead costs in private associations including employee wages, unemployment insurance, liability insurance, mortgages, advertising costs, etc. Therefore, public marina charges are generally substantially more than those charged by private homeowner and condo associations for dock usage. What the letter fails to mention is that our Board of Directors took it upon ourselves to determine if our dock user fees were fair and reasonable by comparing them to dock fees and charges of other homeowners associations and condo associations in the area. We compared ten such associations in the area and found that our fees are highest among them. We are aware of no facts that exist today, nor at any time in the past, where our association, or any other private homeowner associations or condo associations, in the area has charged dock users fees that were the same as those charged by public marinas.
The LoveSuissevale group has also, on numerous occasions, asserted that non-dock holder members in our association are subsidizing dock holders in our association. This is also false. In fact, the opposite is true. Our association takes in approximately $65,000 per year from our dock holders and others on the patiently waiting list who use our dock system. After accounting for maintenance, repairs and systematic replacement of the docks, on average more than half of that revenue is applied to our general funds which pay for costs incurred by all of our association members. Therefore, more than $30,000 per year generated by our dock users is used to subsidize all of our members by offsetting expenses of the association.
Regarding the suggestion that Suissevale should generate a directory of members so that members can contact each other directly, our Board allowed the inquiring member to present this request at a formal monthly board meeting and thereafter informed him that one of the Board’s primary concerns is to protect the privacy of our association members. The Board also made it clear that if members wished to disclose their contact information to other members, that that is their decision to make on an individual basis. Moreover, the Suissevale website is currently being updated to keep members informed of various issues within our community. Contacting other members will soon be possible on an opt-in basis.
They have also criticized our Board for not putting out to bid recent internet upgrades conducted at the clubhouse and the beach. What isn’t mentioned is that the proposal brought to the Board of Directors was brought by a member homeowner volunteering to do the work for free. The proposal voted on by the Board was simply to pay for equipment and materials at cost. We were provided with invoices for the materials. The homeowner was helping to save Suissevale a good amount of money for this project with no benefit to himself. For the LoveSuissevale group to criticize this activity is misleading to other Suissevale members and fails to mention the most important fact that this was a member actually stepping up to help our association.
The LoveSuissevale letter of 3/28/19 implies that our Board has not been open with regard to our fiscal procedures and has not responded to member requests for financial documents. The fact is that our fiscal records are discussed in open session at every single one of our monthly Board meetings. Among the financial records that are updated monthly are the following: Our monthly balance sheet, our monthly profit and loss statement and our year-to-date profit and loss spreadsheet. In addition to that, our Office Manager and Treasurer are diligent in responding to all reasonable requests made by members for financial documents.
The group has also criticized the Board of Directors for not having a professional audit done every year. Our only audit was done in 2014 when our long time business manager was retiring, to be sure that our financial records were in good order, and no discrepancies were found. It is misleading to suggest that an audit is necessary to show that the Board is not performing its duties in a fiduciary manner. Our budget is $562,000, not a very large budget. The water expenses included in the budget are $220,000. The remaining $342,000 is used to pay for the remaining association expenses which include payments for road repairs, office administration, beach, marina, common properties, clubhouse, water repairs, maintenance and social functions. There is no waste in our budget. It is lean and our Board works hard at working within the budget. To have a review audit would cost approximately $10,000 and a formal audit about $25,000. Since our records openly show all of our income and expense items each year at the annual meeting and at our monthly Board meetings, no one has ever complained about our reporting to the membership before as being inaccurate and misleading. Suggesting a formal audit should be done is just someone trying to suggest that the financial information and management is not proper and the Board is hiding things. There is no factual evidence of anything like that happening. It is being used as a scare tactic.
Lastly, there are the conspiracy theories. A number of the posts from the LoveSuissevale group openly accuse our Board of Directors of engaging in illegal retaliatory behavior against them. Among other things, they allege that our Board has deliberately signed various members up for magazine subscriptions and arranged to have pizza deliveries made to their homes. Nothing could be further from the truth. Worst yet, is the fact that some of the members espousing this nonsense are actually running for our Board and are being openly endorsed by the LoveSuissevale group. We are better than this! This needs to stop; and we all need to work together to make Suissevale a more respectful community for all of our members.
In closing, our Board of Directors works hard, on a voluntary basis, to protect the interests of our Association and to make all of our decisions in the best interest of our Association members. We also recognize and respect the right of any of our members to question or disagree with any decisions or policies made by the Board. Further, we respect the right of all of our members to endorse whomever they choose to run for the Board of Directors. What we do expect is that all of the members of our Board of Directors, as well as all of the members of our Association, especially those with access to internet platforms, to present facts accurately and not in a misleading fashion. There is only one official website, it is www.Suissevale.com.
I want to thank all of our members for supporting our Board of Directors and making Suissevale one of the most sought after beach communities on the lake to live in and enjoy. I have spent almost all of my adult life on the Board or assisting those who were. Today both of my daughters and their families own properties in Suissevale. I know many others who can say the same thing. We have come a long way, but the journey continues. There will always be more challenges and opportunities. Unfortunately, there will always be those who seem to specialize in negativity and will do or say whatever it takes to create doubt or turmoil to achieve their own agenda and not provide our membership with accurate information.
Moving forward, I strongly recommend that each and every one of our members vote for the candidates of their choice who are running for our Board of Directors.
President of the Board of Directors