For those owners who did not attend the “Meet the BOD Candidates” meeting held on October 24th (the vast majority of you), a video of the meeting is now available on the SOA website’s home page (www.somersett.net) under the “Meet the 2018 Board Candidates” News Article. Access to the video will also be included within the next Somersett email Newsletter.
For those who do not have log-in access to the SOA website or who are not on the SOA Newsletter email distribution, you are encouraged to do so by contacting the FSR Communications Coordinator Robin Bolson via email at Robin.Bolson@fsresidential.com or telephone at 775-787-4500 x324.
The video may also be accessed by clicking on the following link:
The video is approximately 1 hr 51 min in duration and presents the Candidates opening and closing statements, Communication Committee prepared questions asked of each Candidate and Homeowner questions at the end.
Communication Committee questions addressed the following topics: 1) Time available to devote to the position, 2) Outside influences and/or conflicts of interest, 3) Familiarity with SOA communication media, 4) Individual priorities, 5) SOA Committee participation, 6) Purpose for candidacy and qualifications, 7) Familiarity with SOA’s governing documents, 8) Sub-association relationships, 9) Rockery Wall failure actions past & future, 10) Roll of the Aesthetic Guidelines Committee and 11) Somersett Golf & Country Club (SGCC) relationship.
Homeowner questions pertained to: 1) Special Assessment and reserve funding, 2) Financial and benefit inequities between the SOA and Sierra Canyon, 3) Limitation on assessments, 4) Capital Improvements moving forward, 5) SGCC Lease Agreement liabilities and 6) Willingness to apply future SOA assessment funds to underwrite SGSS financial problems.
No attempt is made to summarize candidate responses to the preceding questions, rather the reader is referred to the video itself.
See the following link for the October 2018 BOD Meeting Agenda: October 17th BOD Meeting Agenda
No update on any Old Business Items were presented. A summary of the New Business Items discussed and/or approved were as follows:
- Item 7.a – Management Proposals – Opened bids from six companies submitting proposals for managing of the SOA Master Association. That is, the service currently being provided to the SOA by FirstService Residential. It turned out that the various bids were very complex, diversely prepared and not comparable on an apples–to-apples basis. Decision was made that additional time was required to analyze each and prepare a “spreadsheet” wherein the different elements could be captured, compared and evaluated. This was accomplished via workshops and a subsequent open meeting held on October 24th to further discuss and vote on the issue. Bottom line was that, due to the manner in which the various Management Companies do business, and quote services, it was still difficult to evaluate and compare costs. Given that the FirstService Residential proposal was deemed overall competitive and not significantly more than what was perceived as the low bidder, all Directors voiced support for approval of the FirstService Residential proposal. Main reason being satisfaction with FSR’s performance to date and to maintain expertise and continuity on the significant issues facing the SOA in 2019. Contract is for three years with cancellation provisions.
- Item 7.b Insurance Renewal Proposal – Unanimous ratification of previously approved proposal from LaBarre/Oksnee Insurance at an annual amount of $68,120. Essentially a renewal of the existing policy.
- Item 7.c – Employee Bonuses – Per Agreement with FSR, the SOA’s annual budget contains an amount for FSR employee bonuses based on performance. the approved amount for 2018 was $33,500. However, it was noted that actual payout will be significantly less due to turnover and open positions.
- Item 7.d – Snow Removal Proposals – Signature Landscapes Inc. was awarded the snow removal contract for the Town Center and Reno Green for all other Common Areas requiring snow removal services. Both contracts are based on hourly rates for manual labor and equipment operation. Contracts awarded correspond to Signature Landscapes’ and Reno Green’s current landscape maintenance contracts for the Town Center and Common Areas respectively. Both proposals were unanimously approved.
- Item 7.e – Holiday Lighting Proposal – Proposal from Lawn Express Landscapes LLC for Holiday lighting of the Somersett Parkway entrance cottage and six round-abouts was rejected on a 3 to 1 vote. Proposed amount was for $21,500, which included $10,500 for additional LED lights and $11,000 for installation and removal services. An alternate proposal to light the entrance cottage and round-abouts using existing lights only and approve the $11,000 installation and removal services, was rejected on a 2 to 2 vote. A separate proposal to allocate $2,300 for Holiday lighting of the TCTC using existing lights was approved.
- tem 7.f – Newsletter Contract Proposal – The proposal from Just Imagine Marketing to continue publishing the bi-monthly Somersett Living Magazine was unanimously approved. Publishing of this magazine does not cost the Association any money. Publisher makes its profits from third party advertising.
- Item 7.g – Back Nine Trail Median Modification – A request from Toll Brothers to remove a portion of the median on the short section of Back Nine Trail north of the Somersett Parkway was unanimously approved. This to preclude damage from construction truck traffic accessing the new Toll Brothers development. Apparently, Toll Brothers will be extending Back Nine Trail as an access road to the development. All costs associated with the median modification to be paid for by Toll Brothers, including future replacement if so requested by the SOA.
- Item 7.h – The Greens at Somersett CC&R’s – “The Greens at Town Center”, is a proposed project consisting of ten townhouses on ten parcels plus a common area to be built on the empty 34,900 sq.ft. lot adjacent to The Club at Town Center and the Canyon9 Golf Course Hole #1. This development will have its own set of governing CC&R’s, which were submitted to the SOA for review and approval. Unanimously approved.
- Item 7.i – 2019 General Common, TCTC, Town Square & Gates Budgets – The 2019 operating budgets for the four SOA cost centers were unanimously approved. Budgets were essentially the same as was presented at the October 4th Homeowner Budget Presentation Meeting. The good news is that the proposed 2019 operating budgets are not significantly different from 2018. Therefore, monthly assessments for these areas will remain the same. That is: General Common Area at $92.00, TCTC at $89.00 and Privates Gates at $54.00 . These assessments should not to be confused with the one time Special Assessment discussed under Item 7.k below. Revenue and Expense items associated with each of the cost centers may be accessed via the following link: SOA 2019 Operating Budget
- Item 7.j – 2019 General Common, TCTC, & Gates Reserve Study Updates – The Board unanimously approved the Browning Reserve Studies for each of the cost centers. Bottom line is that the TCTC and Streets & Gates Reserves are adequately funded, whereas the Common Area is significantly underfunded. The Common Area reserve depletion below acceptable levels was the result of 2018 repair costs associated with Rockery Wall failures. It has been estimated that an additional $3.7M may be required for Rockery Wall repairs in 2019 and beyond, hence the need for the Special Assessment.
- Item 7.k – 2019 Special Assessment and Payment Schedule – The proposed 2019 Special Assessment of $1200 per unit owner was approved. First payment of $600 will be assessed on January 1, 2019, due no later than January 31st to avoid late payment fees. Second installment of $600 will be assessed on June 1, 2019. Owners may pay the full amount in advance if so desired.
The “Meet the Candidates Night” held at the Aspen Lodge on Wednesday was, in our opinion, pretty much of a failure as regards community participation. Attendees numbered somewhere between 30 and 40. Not a very good turnout considering the 3000 + unit owners. Given that the meeting was well advertised, one may wonder why the apathy. Perhaps due to the low number of candidates (Tom Fitzgerald, Byran Martin, Terry Retter and Joseph Strout) ) for the three open Board of Director (BOD) positions. Whatever the cause, those who did not attend are encouraged to watch the meeting video, which will soon be released as a U-Tube video and accessible on the Somersett Owners Association (SOA) website (www.somersett.net) and presumably via a future SOA email distribution.
As regards the meeting content, the Communications Committee did a good job in formulating general questions for the candidates to respond to. These included the following easy topics to address (candidate responses noted, if remembered correctly):
- Time Required – All candidates acknowledged the requirements for the position and have the time available to properly prepare for and carry out their BOD responsibilities, including assigned SOA Committee support.
- Outside Influences/Conflict of Interests: No problems here expressed from all candidates, except Mr. Strout, who acknowledged that his position as Treasurer and Board Member for the Somersett Golf and Country Club (SGCC) could present a potential conflict regarding legal issues between the SOA and the SGCC, which he would properly evaluate and recuse himself as required. Note that Mr. Retter is also a member of the SGCC (not a Board member) and did not express any conflict in this regard.
- Top Priorities to Undertake: Mr. Fitzgerald & Mr. Strout – Financial Stability; Mr. Martin – Strategic Planning/Funding Stewardship; Mr. Retter – Updating the Governing Documents (e.g., CC&R’s)
- SOA Committee Interests: Mr. Fitzgerald – Aesthetic Guidelines & Community Standards; Mr.Martin – Facilities; Mr. Retter – Community Standards and Communications; Mr. Strout – Finance & Budget
- Increasing the Number of BOD Members: Mr. Fitzgerald, Mr. Martin and Mr. Retter felt that increasing the number of BOD Members was warranted. Mr. Strout felt that the current five was enough.
Response to the preceding questions were pretty straight forward, brief and easy to summarize. However, additional questions requiring more lengthy, detailed and informative responses pertained to the following:
- Master and Sub-Association Relationships
- Rockery Wall Failure Issues
- Roll of the Aesthetic Guidelines Committee
- SOA and SGCC Relationship and Lease Agreement Issues
- Homeowner Questions
Given their complexity, we will not attempt to summarize all the responses to the above. Rather, we refer the reader to the aforementioned meeting video so one can draw their own conclusions. Preferably before submitting your ballots.
This website believes that all candidates are suitably qualified for service on the SOA’s Board of Directors and will not be making any recommendations in this regard, but do offer the following observations:
- Mr. Fitzgerald’s prior service as BOD Member and President provides him with a vast knowledge of ongoing community issues, BOD operations, the Governing Documents and needed continuity moving forward.
- Mr. Martin is a “brand new” member of our Somersett Community and obviously was not as well versed and knowledgeable on community issues, governing documents, etc. as the other candidates. However, we do not see this as a significant disadvantage as he can bring a fresh presence of ideas and suggestions to the Board not biased by past experience or agenda.
- Mr. Retter has been a Somersett owner from its very beginning and is well versed in its past trials and tribulations. Also, has ownership interest in not only the Master Association but two of the Sub-Associations as well, thereby providing a vested interest in all working together. Hence, perhaps his interest in updating the communities governing documents.
- Mr. Strout has an excellent financial background and is currently serving on the SOA Finance & Budget Committee and is well versed on the SOA’s current financial situations. Would make a good replacement for outgoing BOD Member Ryan Burns as the SOA Treasurer.
It should be noted that both Mr. Retter and Mr. Strout are SGCC members and, considering the ongoing legal conflict between the SOA and SGCC over Water Rights and Rocky Wall liabilities, the question arises as to whether or not having two out of the five BOD Members potentially recusing themselves or involved with decision making in this regard presents an acceptable situation.
All comments are welcome!
All Somersett Owners will soon be in receipt of mailed Ballots for the Somersett Owners Association (SOA) 2018 Board of Director (BOD) elections. Three two-year Director positions are open with four declared candidates. In addition to the actual Ballots, the Ballot package will also contain Candidate Statements for each of the four, which may also be accessed via the following links:
Of the four Candidates, only Mr. Fitzgerald is a current BOD member seeking re-election. For the past two years, Mr. Fitzgerald has served as the SOA BOD President, and therefore has an established track record and continuity on ongoing SOA issues to his credit.
While the Candidate Statements provide some insight as to candidate qualifications, they should not provide the sole basis for deciding who to vote for. Therefore, talk to others in the community for their knowledge and opinions, but perhaps more importantly, plan to attend Candidate Night (currently scheduled for Wednesday October 24th from 6-8 PM at the Sierra Canyon Aspen Lodge) where a moderated Q&A session will be held. If past practices hold, specific questions regarding qualifications and community issues will be asked of each candidate. Given time constraints, Somersett owners will also be given the opportunity to ask questions of individual or all candidates.
Some of the more important issues facing the Somersett community in 2019 include: Rockery Wall Repairs, Wildfire Fuel Reduction, West Park Plans, Aging Infrastructure and Lawsuits against the Somersett Developer and the Somersett Golf & Country Club (SGCC). With regard the SGCC, it should be noted that candidates Retter and Strout (the SGCC Treasurer & BOD Member) are SGCC members, and therefore, potential conflicts of interest may arise over the ongoing SGCC Purchase & Lease Agreement issues with the SOA.
Candidates wishing to post a statement on their behalf are welcome to do so, just email it to: email@example.com.
Comments from readers on any or all of the candidates are also solicited.
For Somersett owners who were unable to attend the October 4th Budget Presentation Meeting, the presentation slides are now available for general viewing on the Association’s website at www.somersett.net. They may also be accessed via the following link:
SOA 2019 Budget Presentation
OK what transpired at the SOA Budget Meeting held at TCTC Thursday night? Well, there was some review of 2018 accomplishments:
- The failed Rockery Wall repairs were completed. Although at an approximate cost of $3.0M, which was over the original estimate of $2.5M, thereby requiring additional Common Area reserve fund expenditures.
- The West Park plans were completed. Although at a higher cost than originally budgeted for by the City of Reno. However, the Parks Committee has done a good job at raising additional funds from outside sources.
- Numerous TCTC facility improvements were accomplished.
- The various SOA outstanding loans (i.e. The Canyon9 & TCTC Developer Loans plus the Rockery Wall Repair Loan) were consolidated into a single loan of $6M for 15 years (5% interest first 10 years, adjustable last 5 years) which saved the SOA approximately $107K in early payoff to the Developer.
However, more importantly, what about 2019?
- The good news is that the operating budgets for the three activity centers (General Common/Canyon9, The Club at Town Center, and the Private Gates/Streets) are not significantly different than 2018. Therefore, monthly assessments for these areas will remain the same. That is, General Common Area – $92.00, TCTC – $89.00 and Privates Gates – $54.00.
- The bad news is that the Common Area Reserves have been depleted to the point that the estimated $3.7M for additional “high risk” (e.g., Gypsy Hill and 2nd Roundabout) Rockery Wall repairs in 2019 and beyond is not available. The proposed solution is to levy a “Special Assessment” on Somersett Owners in 2019 to fund this amount.
- Given the approximate 3100 unit owners for 2019, the Special Assessment equates to $1200 per unit owner. One might opine that this amount is way over that permitted by the SOA CC&R’s without a majority vote of unit owners. That is, per Article III, Section 5 of the SOA CC&R’s, Special Assessments which exceed 25% of the annual amount (in this case 25% of $92 x 12 = $276) cannot be approved by the Board, but require majority unit owner vote. However, this requirement is apparently superseded by Nevada Law (NRS 116.3155 2. b) which obligates HOA’s to establish adequate reserves. The SOA has concluded this statute applies, and therefore obviates the need for a homeowner vote. This based on a memo from Nevada Legislative Counsel Brenda J. Erdoes to then Nevada State Senator Michael J. Schneider, dated July 12, 2007. A copy of this memo may be accessed via the following link:
Schneider Memo – Assessments without Owner Vote
- One might ask, why not just take out an additional loan for the $3.7M? The rub here is that the SOA’s current debt service inhibits the ability to obtain additional loans. However, this aside, the Special Assessment makes more sense than incurring additional loan debt with its attendant interest charges.
- How exactly will the $1200 Special Assessment in 2019 be levied? While this will be up to the new Board installed at the November Annual Homeowner Meeting, it is expected that the first $600 will become due and payable in early 2019, with the balance deferred to later in the year or via periodic installments.
- Regarding the ongoing lawsuit against the Somersett Developer, and underlying contractors, in the SOA Chapter 40 claim for damages, nothing new to report. However, the SOA Finance Committee acting Chairman expressed the viewpoint that recovery of any damages would most likely be far lower than the amount expended and claimed by the SOA. How any monetary recovery in this area would subsequently be processed, would be up to the SOA BOD at that time.
The Budget Meeting PowerPoint presentation which summarizes the various 2019 operating budget items will be accessible on the SOA website (www.somersett.net). Also, the complete budget details will be mailed to all Somersett unit owners no later than November 1, 2018.
The SOA has scheduled a 2019 SOA Budget Presentation Meeting, open to all homeowners, to be held on Thursday, October 4th at The Club at Town Center Sports Court. If past practices prevail, the presentation will most likely consist of a PowerPoint presentation summarizing 2018 financials and accomplishments in addition to outlining the proposed Operating (revenues, expenses, special projects, etc) and Reserve Fund Budgets for 2019. This for all three of the SOA independent assessment areas. That is; Common Area/Canyon9, The Club at Town Center and Private Gates & Streets.
Regarding homeowner assessments, a historical review of past assessments and any proposed increase and/or decrease for 2019 is usually presented. Note that the SOA BOD can increase annual assessments up to 15% over the previous year without homeowner vote. Also, under certain circumstances, the Board has the power to levy “Special Assessments” in any calendar year, without homeowner vote, provided it does not exceed 25% of the annual per unit assessment. No universal “Special Assessment” has ever been levied on a SOA unit owner. However, it has been suggested by some that this may be a way to pay for expenses incurred for repair of the Common Area Rockery Wall defects.
The October 4th presentation will, in all probability reflect the final budget to be approved at the October 17th Board of Directors Meeting. This is not to say that changes cannot be incorporated in the interim. Following approval by the Board, a detailed 2019 Budget Package will be mailed to all unit owners to be ratified at the November 19th Annual Homeowner Meeting. This is basically an automatic ratification, as to be rejected, it would require 75% of all voting members to reject it at that meeting.
An informative meeting, for which owners are encouraged to attend.