Present: Dave Thomas, Pat Flanagan, Mary Tallent-Stewart, Cecelia Lak, and Karlyn McPartlin
I. Call to Order and Approval of Meeting Agenda
The meeting was called to order at 9:15 am by President Dave Thomas, who declared a quorum present. A motion by Flanagan, seconded by Lak, to approve the agenda was approved unanimously.
II. Introduction of Board and Architectural Committee Members
Thomas introduced the board members, the members of the Architectural Committee, and the Roads Committee. He also thanked Jim Poston for all the work he does in maintaining the web site, composing the annual newsletter, and monitoring the chat room. Thanks were extended to the volunteer fire department, headed by Al Drake.
He announced that vehicle decals, Highlands telephone books, and the old wooden road signs were available for purchase at the meeting.
III. Presentation of Invited Guests and Reports
A. Storey County Commissioners
Bob Kershaw, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners, spoke about current events in Storey County. Kershaw announced that this would be his last appearance as a commissioner. He has held elected office in the County for 20 years.
Medicaid expansion is an issue in the state and there is concern about how it will be financed. He expects the number of recipients to rise to about 500,000 if the state opts into the program.
He stated that there are discussions among the cities about the tax system in the state. Internet buying is causing a reduction in state sales tax. One proposal is to drop the in-state sales tax and begin taxing internet sales.
He stated that the County is in relatively good shape financially and is very conservative in its spending. He said that we owners have a very special thing in the Highlands and that we should fight to keep it that way. Slow responsible growth is a sensible approach.
Bill Sjovangen thanked Bob for all his service. He said he would be happy to answer questions at the end of the presentations.
B. Storey County Sheriff
Sheriff Jerry Antinoro reported that the sheriff’s office recorded 176 citations in this area, 87 not including the highway. There were 8 arrests, 132 case reports, 55 animal complaints, and 12 accidents.
Antinoro stated that off-highway vehicles (ATV’s) purchased since July 1 of this year have to be licensed with the DMV. If you have one purchased previously, there is a one year discretionary period to register; they must be licensed after July 2013. Their office will do VIN inspections or inspections can be done at the dealers. Helmets must be worn in all ATV’s, and children will not be able to ride alone. They must be with a licensed adult driver. He has not heard that there will be insurance requirements.
County-wide, crime is down over the last year.
C. Storey County Fire Department
Gary Hames, Fire Chief, presented highlights of the year’s activities. Staffing has not changed in the past year in the Highlands. The Division of Forestry has 4 or 5 people on site daily, including summer interns, and SCFD has a captain and a paramedic on duty. Services have been cut at TRI and they are looking at staffing at Lockwood. He outlined the ambulance fee subscriptions that are offered by the department. Fees are dependent on the age and number of people in the family. They also have a service that will deliver a trailer to your house for slash materials, and they will pick it up and take it to the slash pile. The fire department can be called for this service.
Snake bites can be a problem in the area. It is best to stay calm, put a tourniquet above and below the bite, and call 911.
He also thanked Al Drake for his service on the volunteer fire department.
An owner asked when beetle-infected trees should be cut. That should be done after the first freeze.
Karlyn asked when the fire department lights would be turned off at nights. He stated that they are working with Public Works on that issue.
D. Fire Safe Highlands
Gwen and Tom Buck presented a quiz challenge to the owners present regarding the likelihood of a fire in the area. A major fire can be expected every 2 to 3 years. Gwen stated that only 27 acres had burned in Storey County during recent fires, while surrounding counties suffered hundreds of acres burned.
She stated that it is an owner’s responsibility to keep their defensible space maintained and to educate their neighbors.
Cindy Rogers asked what could be done about a property where there has been no resident in the house for about 15 years and has some serious fire issues. Ms. Buck asked that she be notified and they would start action to get it cleared. Gary Hames stated that the association might be able to act to get it cleared more quickly. It takes the government about 18 months to take action.
The Fire Safe Highlands Chapter meets on the third Thursdays of each month at the fire station.
Mr. Buck stated that there will be a county wide evacuation drill in the spring of next year. A survey of owners as to animals on site, etc., will be done prior to the drill. The address to complete the survey is listed in the recent newsletter sent to all owners.
Bob Maccario stated that VRWPA has a new board of directors which wishes to become more regional in its scope. There are new by-laws which include five categories of membership. Each Highlands owner is a member by virtue of ownership, but there are also non-voting and low cost memberships.
The approach is to look at all animals in the eco-system, not just horses. They have formed a relationship with the University of Nevada and created a wild-life advisory committee to formulate a long term strategy for the Virginia Range. They want businesses to get involved as well. They have a strong relationship with the sheriff’s office and the State Department of Agriculture. Fund shortages are a continual problem.
Rene Klein stated that the VRWPA is trying to disseminate more information about our wild-life in the area. He said there are now about 25,000 wild horses on open range land in the state. A larger number is held in storage by government agencies. He wondered why more effort is not made to preserve horses on open range and said that they are doing research on this issue. Funds are needed to accomplish this work. They are going to raffle copies of the painting “Virginia Range Mustangs” to raise funds. Tickets are $5 each.
Bob introduced Leslie Biederman who is running the membership drive.
F. Victim Services Unit
Eileen Herrington runs the Victim Services Unit of the District Attorney’s office. She is looking for volunteers to help with domestic violence advocacy and other issues. Training is required, which takes about six months to complete.
G. Highlands Neighborhood Watch
Stacy Jones stated that Leo Dupree is the head of the project and unable to be present. Neighborhood Watch is going to holding block training in conjunction with the sheriff’s office. The training will include how to notice and report possible crimes. He said he would be available after the meeting and at the picnic with volunteer sign-up forms.
The block captains were introduced.
IV. Committee Reports
A. Architectural Committee
Rita Lumos reported that there had been only one application for a new residence in the past fiscal year. Several applications for additions or changes were received.
B. Road Committee
Steve Morrow is out of town and unable to give the road report. Dave Thomas briefly outlined the work done in the past year. He noted that an inspection of the roads indicated that they are in the best shape ever. There was little need for snow removal during the winter. A lot of maintenance has been done on the road construction/maintenance equipment.
Since the roads are constructed in very different conditions, the treatment and maintenance is different. Some are on granite and some are in heavy clay area. Large rock has been installed in a couple of the heavy clay areas.
Keith Judson asked that the association get together with the county to fix the large potholes by the mailboxes.
V. Financial Report
A. Review of Financial Statements and Reserve Account
Thomas referred to the financial statements which are available at the meeting and on the web site. Total income for the fiscal year was $191,939 and total expenses were $170,749. The ending cash balance for both operating and reserve accounts was $257,837.
Accounts receivable are up over the past year due to some owners not paying their dues in a timely manner. He noted that there will be a transfer from the reserve account to the checking account of approx. $13,000 necessary to pay for capital improvements.
Although the road expenses appear to be less than last year, there are still outstanding bills for road work, which will make total expenses for the season similar to last year.
Bad debts expenses are for a property in foreclosure for which past due dues won’t be collected.
Audit fees, required by state statute, account for higher administrative expenses.
He noted that the cash balance will be at about $180,000 by the fall of this year.
The water truck and snow plow trucks will have to be replaced in the near future.
B. Presentation of Operating Budget
The budget is nearly the same as the past year’s budget and was included in the newsletter mailed to all owners in June. Road expenses, including insurance, etc., are budgeted for $133,000 but may be higher with the carry-over from this fiscal year’s work.
The special assessment will remain at $100 for the coming year. Thomas expects it will have to be raised in the year after.
A History of Development in the VC Highlands was presented. It shows an increase of 32% of houses from 2000 to 2010. Increased traffic requires an increase in road maintenance. This will likely require a raise in the amount of the special assessment after the current fiscal year.
VI. Comments by Association Members
An owner thanked the board members for their service to the association. Thomas noted that no one has volunteered to run for election to the board since 2009. Members have had to be appointed due to the lack of volunteers.
VII. Adjourn Meeting
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 10:55 am.