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VMs Tackle Mailboxes, Training and Road Repaving

For the first time in years, an initial approval vote for a mailbox guideline change caused some contention at the monthly Westchase Voting Members meeting.

At the Feb. 9 meeting of Westchase Voting Members (VMs), the first of two expected votes on a new Stockbridge mailbox guideline, necessary to change that neighborhood’s mailboxes, came up for discussion. Five Stockbridge residents attended the meeting – two in opposition and three in support. 

Stockbridge resident Marilyn Arend complained that the mailbox guideline change did not receive enough votes in two previous ballots and stated she could not understand how it has come up again. Stockbridge VM Ed Siler explained that the vote was added to the Stockbridge VM election proxy cards because some residents asked for it to be included. He added that because of previous apathy, he had gone door to door to get votes. (To change a mailbox guideline, a majority of residents in a neighborhood must cast votes in support of the change, a threshold Stockbridge recently met.)

Arend insisted, however, that she felt that there was an agenda to get the item approved and it wasn’t handled properly. She also complained that residents never saw the new mailbox pricing. She added that many neighbors don’t comply with landscaping or house painting and therefore asked why they should be worried about mailboxes. Joining Arend in opposition, Stockbridge’s Jeanne Kuehner complained that there should be more focus on current violations like landscaping than the mailboxes.  Stockbridge’s Daniela Benson, however, countered, “Why wouldn’t you want to improve the look of the neighborhood with a better mailbox?”

Siler, moreover, stated that the mailbox price was included on the proxy card.

When VMs ultimately cast their votes on the new Stockbridge mailbox guideline, it unanimously passed.

Westchase Community Association (WCA) Attorney Jon Ellis then launched into his yearly training of VMs. He explained that each VM is a representative and should keep in mind that Westchase has more residents than many cities have. As he does every year, Ellis reiterated how Westchase was an extremely well-run association. He explained that VMs’ primary responsibility is voting on and amending Westchase’s governing documents. He also explained VMs’ role in appointing or removing the WCA Board of Directors, deciding what should be done with damage or destruction of common areas, formulating the association budget and WCA borrowing.

Advising the VMs, he said, “Speak your voice. It is important to have a certain level of respect. Occasionally boards fractionalize. When you make a vote, that’s the vote. Not everyone is on the winning side of every vote. The faster you vote and move on, the better.” He added, “Everybody has a fiduciary duty.”

After Ellis’ training, VM Ed Fugit (Glencliff) raised road repaving with WCA Director Joe Odda, who was presiding over the meeting since Joaquin Arrillaga had lost his voice to sickness. Fugit asked about the association’s appropriate actions given that recent Hillborough Board of County Commissioners’ decisions made it highly unlikely Westchase roads would be repaved this year. “Since we got the vote on the roads, can we do anything?”

Odda, who has led WCA lobbying efforts for repaving, responded, “It is possible that there might be some flexibilities. Our objective is to explore those. No matter what we have identified by neighborhood, they [Hillsborough County] are going to go with their set of priorities and the protocol that they have been using since 2007.”

Odda added, “There are some interim meetings February through April. The set of prioritized streets is still unfunded. We are looking at what we can do with the GoHillsborough plan or other alternatives.”

The GoHillsborough plan depends upon a transit sales tax referendum that the BOCC may or may not decide to place on the November 2016 general election ballot.

Odda concluded the meeting by saying, “Nobody is being stubborn or obstructive. They just don’t have the money.”

VMs adjourned at 8:12 p.m.

By Brenda Bennett

Posted 12 Feb 2016 and amended14 Feb 2016 to include the names of the Stockbridge residents commenting on the mailbox guideline.

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