I don’t have the time to be a board member… how can I be involved?

Recently we have had people who are new to the neighborhood come to us and ask how they can learn more about where their dues are being spent, how decision are made, what the board does, etc. Most people are interested in what the HOA does, but understandably don’t feel they have the time to commit to a board position or even full time member of a committee. So what advice do we (the board members) have for those who want to be involved but are juggling too much already?

1. HOA decisions are ultimately made by board members.

– You can talk with board members to get your thoughts, ideas and opinions across. All of the board members live in Almond Glen and care about the neighborhood.

– Board meetings are open to all members. We know you can’t make it to every meeting, but the time and place to really influence decisions is at a board meeting when decisions are being made. If you can’t make it to a meeting, send a neighbor with similar views.

2. We have several committees.  In the past we have had several committees:

– Social/Welcome, Pool, Landscaping, Townhomes, Finance, Architectural

– committes are generally given guidelines and a budget to work with and then asked to guide the board. Want to buy pool furniture? Help with the pool committee. Think someone should meet new families and welcome them to the neighborhood? Start up the Social Committee again. Want more input into the repairs and maintenance of the townhomes? Get the Townhome Committee back on track. The committees are a great way to focus on your interests without having to dedicate to a board position. Committees positions are appointed by the board, not elected.

3. Vote at the annual meetings.

– By proxy or in person.. the easiest way to be involved without dedicating too much time is to vote for your board members. If you support someone else’s ideas you should encourage them to run for a board position and then support them with your vote.

Not everyone wants to take on the board member life and we know it. We also know your thoughts and desires are important. The board consists of 5 members who listen to different people throughout the community and bring their individual opinions and experiences together to find answers to problems that don’t always make everyone happy. Committees, active members, even those who speak out against the boards decisions are extremely importaint to helping the board make good decisions.

– Rob Smith

President, Almond Glen Owners Association, INC.

FAQ – WHAT IS AQUATECH’s ROLL (Pool Company)

For those who have lived here since the pool opened in 2008 or 2009, you may recall we had lifeguards. That changed in 2015.

In 2015 the board worked with DHEC to have our pool reclassified so we would not be required to have lifeguards. This was in direct response to complaints about lifeguards not doing anything, lifeguards sleeping, lifeguards not enforcing rules, lifeguards enforcing too many rules, lifeguards being used as babysitters, unwanted breaks, etc.

The 2016 Pool season opened earlier and closed later than in the past thanks to the lack of lifeguards and savings associated with the Aquatech contract. Money from the contact was shifted to cover the installation of the camera system and automatic gate locks. The 3 year plan is to shift money to cover more furniture and other upgrades at the pool.

So the question I hear most often is… what are we paying Aquatech to do?

  1. Keep us compliant with various state regulations
    1. We have a “public pool” and that means we need permits and records for review by state inspectors.
  2. Make repairs, conduct maintenance checks, test chemicals, add chemicals, etc.
  3. Clean the pool
  4. Clean and stock the bathrooms
  5. Provide an attendant during contracted hours
    1. Attendants are contracted to cover the times when the pool committee estimates pool usage is highest.
    2. Attendants straighten and clean the pool deck when members leave messes and don’t put chairs/tables back
    3. Attendants enfonce rules
    4. Attendants may check for pool fobs or verify members are the only people using the pool
    5. Attendants are basic first aid and CPR certified
    6. Attendants are there to assist the members
    7. Put umbrellas away at night and verify restrooms are clean and clear before closing.
    8. Ensure the automatic locks for the gates and doors engage at closing

Attendants are NOT lifeguards. They do not watch the pool like lifeguards.

How do I check my HOA account?

The board of directors would like to remind everyone there is a website available  which allows you to login and check your HOA account 24/7. This information was provided to you when we moved from Hawthorne to AMG and is one of the primary requirements the board had for any new management company interviewed by the board in 2014. The same information is provided to new members once their closing attorneys contact AMG and notify them a new owner has purchased a home in Almond Glen. We were surprised to learn so many people did not know they could login to check their accounts. Letters with information related to logging in and checking accounts are being sent out to all members, but this page will serve as a historical reminder.

READ MORE BELOW OR WATCH THIS VIDEO FOR MORE INFO.
https://youtu.be/7b6zX656TVk

To log in you must visit the Association Management Group (AMG) webpage. A link to the page is conveniently located on the homepage of Almondglenhoa.com.

  • Click the provided link to jump to AMGs webpage. Once you get to AMGs webpage, click the “Homeowner Login” at the top right of the page.
  • After clicking on “Homeowner Login” you will jump to a login page where you can enter your account number and password. If you have lost your login info or believe you never received it, contact Dacy at AMG for help. After you login you will see your name in the area where the “Homeowner Login” was before. If your name is not listed, please notify AMG so updates can be made.
  • From here you can click on the “Account” tab to see your basic account information (see photos below).
  • One of the new tabs available once you click the “account” tab is “account detail”. Click that tab to review your payment history. As you can see in the example below, I have a negative balance of $294.74 (-294.74). This indicates I have overpaid my dues by $294.74. (I do this to create a buffer to protect myself against late fees or future assessments by the HOA).
    A positive balance reflects money you owe the HOA. Depending on when you look at your account, you may or may not be late. Generally speaking, you will only see a positive balance if you are behind on your dues.

Please reach out to a board member or contact AMG if you have any questions about your account. Remember… We are your neighbors, not the enemy. We want to help!

Neighborhood Inspection – April 17, 2017

Need a copy of the CC&Rs, Bylaws or Rules and Regs Book? 

CLICK HERE

 

On April 17, 2017 the neighborhood inspection was completed by AMG.

Q. What is a neighborhood inspection?

A. The CC&Rs (A contract you signed when you bought your home) and the Rules and Regulations (adopted by the HOA board) set forth rules, regulations and policies for which you need to maintain your property. The purpose of these rules, regulations and policies is to maintain a high value neighborhood which benefits the majority of our members.

Q. How does it work?

A. The board directs the management company to drive around the neighborhood and visually inspect the neighborhood for “violations”. The categories generally inspected are: Trash cans (Are they stored out of sight and neatly), Trash (loose items left out in the open, building supplies, etc.), High Grass (Unkempt lawns), Pressure Washing (Does your home need it), Commercial Vehicles (Large box trucks, etc), Trailers, Boats, General Home maintenance issues.

After the inspection the ARC committee is asked to verify the violations. This means someone from the neighborhood follows up on the list presented to us by the management company to ensure the violations exist. We generally wait several days so we can be sure the “violation” wasn’t just a temporary issue which was resolved without any further action needed on the part of the HOA.

If a violation is noted by the management company and the ARC committee, you get a letter from the HOA. If you resolve the issue, nothing further will happen. If the issue is not corrected you will get subsequent letters and then HOA Board may move forward with legal action.

Obviously the goal is to not have to send out letters or involve lawyers, so please try to keep up with your home maintenance and landscaping.

Being a Better Neighbor

“How do I let my neighbor know that what they are doing is really bothering me?”

slide001I get this question, in various forms, all the time. As a member of the HOA board, because of my professional experience, and sometimes just because I am always willing to listen.

So how DO you let someone know that what they are doing is a problem? To answer that you have to think about culture and our natural reactions to being shamed. Not to imply that anyone intentionally shames another person. However, the act of telling someone that what they are doing bothers you is at its most basic level; shaming them.

talking-over-the-fence-251x236Let’s define basic freedom. Many folks are unwilling to bother a neighbor with their discomfort for a fear they are in someway taking away from a neighbors freedom by asking them to stop doing whatever it is they are doing…. or in some cases… not doing. A simple way of looking at freedom is the old swinging arm example. As a free person you are welcome to swing your arms around like a crazy person anytime you want. If you find yourself in close proximity to other folks, on an elevator for instance, your right to swing your arms becomes more limited.

PlacemakinglovethyneighborbillboardKeeping that in mind lets examine a simple “problem”. Your neighbor parks their car on the roadway in front of your home. Yes, they can legally park their vehicle there… but lets assume it bothers you. How can you communicate this to your neighbor without starting an all out feud?

Third party intervention. I get into these types of discussions because many neighbors are looking for an easy way out of the problem. They want the HOA or me personally to address the problem. While I am happy to intervene when needed, I always advocate against third party intervention. You are taking a private matter between you and your neighbor and making it public. When was the last time YOU enjoyed being publicly shamed for your actions? Even as a child we learn that punishment is far worse when all of your friends know about it. Its no different when we are adults.

AL-How-to-be-a-great-neighbor1Direct communication. My advice: talk directly with your neighbor about the issue. Express your feelings honestly and be sure to make it apparent you are as embarrassed (if not more so) then they are. Sometimes we allow ourselves to get so worked up about an issue that we become very passionate about it when we try to discuss it. Its important not to allow yourself to become angry as you will probably end up just making your neighbors less neighborly

In most cases you will find your neighbor is not aware the things they are doing are causing you any discomfort. I know I would want my neighbors to tell me if I was hurting them. I care about my neighbors and my neighborhood and want to be seen as a great neighbor. None of us can be great neighbors unless those around us tell us when we are slipping.

What is a Board Meeting

What is a board meeting?

Q. When are the board meetings?

A. Some associations have meetings on a regular schedule. Almond Glen Owners Association has a policy of holding meetings on an “as needed” basis. While this makes it more difficult to plan to attend a board meeting… it is more productive. The board members typically discuss their individual schedules and agree on a meeting date when there are issues which need to be addressed in person. Its common for the board to meet once a month, but not a requirement. Often the board will come together with just 5 days notice due to personal conflicts.

Q. What happens in a board meeting?

A. Board members meet to discuss association business, cast votes, meet with other volunteers, meet with vendors, and give direction to the officers of the association.

Q. Who participates in a board meeting?

A. Generally the board members are the only active participants. Members can attend a board meeting and observe. If the board must enter into “Executive Session”, non-board members may be asked to leave the meeting. Typically the board will hold “Executive Session” business until the end of a meeting so members can observe as much of the meeting as possible.

Q. Where are the meetings?

A. In most cases the board will hold meetings at a board members home. In some cases the board will meet at the office of the management company in the boardroom. If there is strong interest from the membership in a particular board meeting, the board may rent a venue to accommodate larger gatherings.

Q. I want to formally address the board. Can I come to a board meeting and be heard?

A. If someone would like to speak at a board meeting, they need to be listed on the agenda. Generally, the agenda is drafted several days before a meeting. Planned, timed agendas help keep the meetings moving along with minimal distractions. Contact the associations management company and advise the manager you would like to speak to the board during and upcoming meeting. The board will need to know the topic, how much time you would like to be allowed to speak, and any audio visual requirements (i.e. A projector, laptop, and sound). The community manager will pass your request on to the board president, who will then ask the association secretary to add you to an agenda. On the day of the meeting you will be given your time to speak and the meeting minutes will reflect your participation as well as any handouts or other relevant information.

What is taking so long??

A recent post on the Almond Glen Friends Facebook page about possible coyote sightings in the area got me thinking about a common problem the board runs into. Speed.

One of the most common questions we get is, “What’s taking so long”. Requests for repairs, ARC requests, suggestions, etc. All of these items have one thing in common, it seems to take FOREVER to get anything done.

So why is it we (the board of directors) can’t complete a request in a more “timely” manner? Why does it sometimes take weeks, or much longer, to do something that everyone seems to think is a good idea?

Let’s examine an example of a simple request. Sometime ago we received a request for a few signs at the entrances of the neighborhood. The request was for signs that would inform solicitors that the general population of the neighborhood is uninterested in random people ringing doorbells at all times of the day. The total cost would be less than $150. (About 50 cents per home). There was enough talk about the issue on social media and in the form of formal requests that it was decided the issue would be added to a board meeting agenda.

When an issue is brought up for discussion, the board members typically first discuss agenda topics via email. The association secretary typically outlines the agenda and then the board president approves the agenda. Meetings can run long, so agendas sometimes need to be cut short and issues get “tabled” or put off until a later date. With so many major issues on the agenda, the signs were pushed back several times.

Once the signs make it to an agenda, a board member introduces the topic to the board. The issue is then discussed by the board. In the case of the signs we might discuss costs, maintenance, materials, wording, benefits, effectiveness, etc. If the issue passes we then start the process of purchasing the signs. If it fails, we move on.

Since the board is made up of volunteers who schedule meetings around their regular work and personal lives, it’s not uncommon for a small issue to take several months to be brought to a conclusion. More pressing issues can sometimes be pushed along more quickly, but its very unusual for an issue to be solved “overnight”.