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VM Meeting Sees Input on WCA Plans for E-mail Contact List

The Aug. 19 meeting of the Westchase Voting Members (VMs) saw initial approval of a new roofing guideline for Glencliff and questions about the WCA Board’s plans for e-mail communication with owners.

The meeting also saw VMs take a formal vote to remove Woodbay’s VM, whose repeated absences made him eligible for removal under Westchase’s documents.

The meeting kicked off with VMs’ consideration of a new guideline for Glencliff which, if approved at two meetings, will permit homeowners there to re-roof their villas with asphalt shingles or tile. Currently Glencliff rules permit only tile roofs, which are frequently damaged by errant golf balls from the adjacent Westchase Golf Course. Westchase Community Association (WCA) Manager Debbie Sainz stated that 30 owners from the village’s 48 units had endorsed the change, putting the ball into VMs’ court. VMs voted unanimously to approve the new guideline, which only applies to Glencliff. Before it becomes official, however, VMs will have to consider and approve it again at their September meeting.

Discussion then turned to the WCA Board’s push for a new community-wide e-mail contact system. WCA President Nancy Sells opened discussion of the matter, “The board has been looking at communication tools,” she announced.

In recent weeks Sainz sent out a form to VMs and requested they distribute it to their neighborhood e-mail contact lists. The form asked owners to submit their e-mails to the association. A number of VMs, however, declined to forward the form. Meanwhile West Park Villa VM Carlos Quiros questioned the board’s budgeting of funds for the effort without prior input from VMs. Citing WOW as the association’s official newsmagazine, Quiros questioned why the association would expend additional funds when WOW provides news coverage and information about the association’s programs at no cost.

Sells and Director Dyan Pithers stated that e-mails were being collected in order to use the new mass e-mail program, likely MailChimp, to notify residents who sign up about WCA programs. It would also be used to provide updates on matters such as the Citrus Park Drive extension, about which the WCA is lobbying the county to win funding for its construction.

Countering Quiros’ questions about added costs, Sells added, “The tool is free.”

Sainz detailed they could send 2,000 e-mails per month at no cost from the account and could keep the number low by creating multiple mailing groups specific to residents’ interests.

Sells’ observation, however, was challenged by Glencliff VM Kathy Carlsen, who pointed to an increase in the 2015 budget for Web and e-mail costs, from $1,490 in 2014 to $3,248. Carlsen stated that there were costs associated with inputting and maintaining lists and sending out e-mails. She added that the association would have to pay for the service when they exceeded 2,000 e-mails monthly. “I think that needs to be disclosed,” she said. Referring to VMs, she added, “We don’t often get the full disclosure of program costs.”

Pithers, however, countered that the association needed to modernize its communication system. “I think most people are excited about opting in,” she said.

VM discussion then turned to the form itself, which some felt should contain additional or different information to reassure owners regarding the use of their contact information and whether it would be shared with VMs and the community at large through a published directory. Sainz, however, stated there was no intent to publish a public directory with the e-mails. After VMs also made recommendations regarding its distribution to the community, Sells and Sainz stated the contact form would be updated to reflect VM input.

Sells then briefed VMs on a recent board decision regarding VM elections. Over the summer Westchase’s governing documents were amended to change VM terms from one year to two, with half of Westchase neighborhoods selecting their representatives each year. The board was charged with deciding how to stagger the villages. Sells informed them that the board had created two groups, with the first consisting of the five largest and smallest neighborhoods: Wycliff, Abbotsford, Glencliff, Stamford, Keswick Forest, Woodbay, Harbor Links/The Estates, The Shires, The Bridges and The Greens. The second group consists of the ten remaining mid-sized neighborhoods (Neighborhoods with subassociations appoint their own VMs). Sainz then flipped a coin to determine which group’s two-year terms would begin first. As the result of the toss, while all villages will hold elections December 2014-February 2015, the first group will start two-year terms immediately after. The second mid-sized group will initially serve another one- year term and hold elections again December 2015-February 2016 to begin their first two-year terms.

Concluding action, VMs voted 19-1, with VM Don Costello (Stamford) opposed, to remove the sitting Woodbay VM for excessive absences. Because the neighborhood has no current alternates to fill the spot, VMs then voted 17-3, with Joaquin Arrillaga (The Greens), Brian Bobrovetski (Kingsford) and Folkert Koelman (Saville Rowe) opposed, to send a letter to each Woodbay home soliciting volunteers to fill the vacancy. Opponents to the mailing cited its cost as unnecessary given the proximity of upcoming elections.

Any homeowner from Woodbay interested in serving as VM can contact the WCA office at 926-6404. VMs are empowered, by simply majority vote, to fill vacancies created by removals.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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