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WCA Board Tweaks 2015 Budget

At the Sept. 4 meeting of the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors, the last meeting held before annual board elections, several voting members (VMs) were on hand to ask board members about the proposed 2015 budget.

VM Carlos Quiros (Villas of WPV) told board members that, when they approved $30,000 in legal fees for work involved with Costco, they had violated a 2004 motion that WCA expenditures in excess of 2.5 percent of budgeted expenditures had to pass through the same consideration as regular budget items (which involves VM review).

Quiros went on to say, “In the proposed 2015 budget there is a similar amount, $30,000 in the general legal fees line item, for issues regarding the Citrus Park extension. I really don’t know where the WCA finds its authority to spend any amount of money to do any lobbying.”

Citing Florida Law 720.303, which deals with HOA powers and duties, Quiros argued the law “only authorizes the use of estimated revenues for annual operating expenses and for reserve accounts.”

He concluded, “I request, and if needed – plead – that the board remove the $30,000 budgeted for attorney fees related to work in favor of the Citrus Park extension, from the general legal expenditures line.”

Board Vice President Ken Blair, acting as president in Nancy Sells absence, thanked Quiros for his comments. Later in the meeting, however, Blair assured Quiros that no WCA funds were dedicated to lobbying. Board Treasurer Joaquin Arrillaga told Quiros that the legal fees were not spent for lobbying. “We needed legal advisors to help review documents we received from the Costco developer’s legal team and advise us on how to respond.”

Glencliff VM Kathy Carlsen asked the board to consider including printing costs for Westchase’s bylaws and Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCRs) because not all VMs have access to electronics.

Citrus Park Extension Committee Chair Joe Odda reported that his committee had sent information to 26 communities asking them to become part of the advocacy group for the extension of Citrus Park Drive. He said the group would work to inform residents about the project. He stated he hopes to have a core group of at least 40 Westchase residents in place by November. “We may need help getting signatures on petitions or educating voters on election days,” he said.

Odda added that part of the funding for the project would come from a one-cent sales tax increase and that those involved with the advocacy group needed to be in favor of the increase. Arrillaga pointed out that the vote for the sales tax increase would not happen until 2016 but all board members agreed that it was important that the Citrus Park Drive expansion be at the top of the list of projects that would possibly receive funding from the increase. One way to keep it at the top of the list was through the advocacy group.

Board members, however, made a slight change to the proposed 2015 budget. Arrillaga said that he was concerned that money was not budgeted to build a shade structure for the swim coaches at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center. He proposed that $10,000 be removed from money budgeted for legal fees in order to pay for the shade structures. The shift would designate a total of $22,000 for their installation. Carlsen, however, countered that she did not think that was a wise use of money since only 42 residents participated in the swim program. Operations and Facility Manager Kelly Shires said that all area TBAY swim programs provided shade structures for their coaches and Arrillaga said that he thought it could be a liability issue to not provide the structure.

Director Dyan Pithers said that the amenities and upgrades to facilities were part of what made Westchase a great community. “We need to make sure we are doing the right thing for liability plus keep amenities up for the residents.”

Carlsen responded that she felt she was speaking for residents as a whole and that, when there were so many improvements that needed to be made, it was wrong to be adding amenities. Pithers countered that the amenities added value to the community and to residents’ homes and therefore benefitted them overall. 

Pithers ultimately amended Arrillaga’s motion by suggestion that the board remove $15,000 from money budgeted for legal fees, with $10,000 going to capital improvements and with the budget being reduced overall by $5,000. All board members voted in favor. The approved budget contained a homeowner assessment of roughly $319, a three dollar decrease from last year. To view the approved 2015 WCA budget in its entirety, click here.

Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz reported that the WCA had recently had an issue with a home that they were unable to confirm was truly abandoned. She went on to say that they eventually found out the homeowners were only on vacation and therefore were unable to mow the lawn under the self-help policy. All board members voted in favor of amending the wording to allow the WCA to mow the lawn of a home that is not "occupied" at the time.

According to Sainz there is a problem with groups using the WCA office building’s conference room after hours and not setting the alarm when they leave. Blair made a motion that anyone using the facilities and not setting the alarm two times be suspended from being able to use facilities at either West Park Village or Westchase Swim and Tennis Center locations for six months. The motion was passed 5-1 with Arrillaga casting the dissenting vote.

The next WCA board meeting is scheduled for Sept. 11 at the WCA offices at 10049 Parley Dr.

By Marcy Sanford

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