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Jay Goldman. Photo by Jim Francis

Results of new POA directors’ election temporarily on hold

BY BARBARA SCHNEIDER
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An unexpected announcement greeted attendees at the POA’s annual meeting Saturday, Dec. 7. The anticipated election results naming three newly elected POA directors would not be released at the meeting, POA President Jay Goldman told the crowd gathered in the Big Canoe Chapel for the event.

“Late Friday afternoon [Dec. 6] we received an inquiry from a property owner about the eligibility of one candidate to run for the board being in question,” he explained. “Because this happened so late yesterday, we haven’t had the opportunity to thoroughly vet this concern and we aren’t going to release any of the election results at this time.” He added that the board will be meeting with counsel to determine the best way to deal with this concern and move forward.

Five property owner candidates—Regis Falinski, Fran Farias, Bill Nelson, Candace Robertson and Meg Rooney—were vying for three POA board seats: two to be vacated by Dudley DeVore and Jim Farinholt who had completed their terms and the third due to a director’s resignation.

Instead of being honored for their years of service to the board DeVore and Farinholt will continue to serve until the eligibility status of the candidate in question is resolved and election results are finalized. Bouquets of flowers, which had been ordered to present as a traditional thank you to the retiring directors’ wives, were on hand and given after the meeting adjourned.

This is the second POA property owner vote in a week to be in abeyance due to unusual circumstances. A planned vote on the proposed Capital Contribution Fee (CCF) was postponed December 2 due to an error in the ballot. (See “Vote on Capital Contribution Fee delayed by serious error in ballot text,” Smoke Signals Weekly, Wednesday Dec. 4). A new date to mail the revised CCF ballots to property owners has not been finalized.

2020 cost controls a key theme

Returning to the planned annual meeting agenda, Goldman reviewed four key issues the board addressed in 2019: the master plan for amenities and facilities, a funding plan for amenities, the water system now owned and managed by UIG, and finalizing the Windstream high speed internet upgrade, “which cost the POA no money,” he added.

The POA did not exceed its 2019 capital budget, which included $1 million for road paving and “a 2019 clubhouse loss greater than last year’s $625,000 loss. The 2019 clubhouse loss is estimated to be $721,000, according to Director of Finance Jayne Hagan.

The 2020 budget will focus on controlling costs without increasing assessments. “We are working to make the POA more financially responsible,” said Goldman. Among these efforts, Goldman points to the proposed master plan and coming up with a way to pay for it, detailed studies of expenses across every department and the new $25 monthly assessment to fund capital improvements.

The POA has a one-year, $5,000-a-month agreement with Bobby Jones Links for consulting, including staffing, training and marketing deliverables to reduce costs and improve quality/consistency at the clubhouse.

Hagan reviewed financial results through October 2019 and the 2020 budget. Property transactions are still moving well she noted but the 243 sales this year-to-date through October are down from the 2017 high. One reason is the low inventory of Big Canoe homes for sale. “There are only 137 homes and three condos for sale at this time.” Fourteen of the 35 lots reported sold by the developer have closed and were recorded in November.

In 2020, 61 percent of the community’s revenues will come from monthly assessments (including the new $25 Capital Contribution Fund), 12 percent from food and beverage, 11 percent from amenity memberships, seven percent from golf and five percent from other amenities. The main 2020 expenditures will be 48 percent salaries, 19 percent depreciation, seven percent cost of sales with all other expenses adding up to 25 percent. (To see the complete report, go to: www.bigcanoepoa.org)

General Manager Jill Philmon highlighted personnel changes planned to support 2020 objectives. (A December 10 exclusive interview with Big Canoe General Manager Jill Philmon will run in the January issue of Smoke Signals.)

She noted—with thanks to the community—there were no bear issues in 2019 and applauded the efforts of the Black Bear Project.

Wide-ranging questions

Questions and comments from the audience covered the Big Canoe POA, Dawson County and other non-POA related issues, including the road paving schedule, Utilities Inc. of Georgia’s (UIG) responsibility for water pump issues in the Laurel Ridge neighborhood, the quality of striping on Big Canoe roads, concerns about 2020 Dawson property tax assessments, the status of the Lake Petit earthen dam and spillway, and concern about the POA’s rationale to exempt the Big Canoe Company’s lots from the proposed Capital Contribution Fee.

Goldman introduced county officials attending the meeting who represent Big Canoe: Sharon Fausett, Dawson County Commissioner (District 1); and Becky Denney, Pickens County Commissioner (East District).

A video of the 2019 POA annual meeting is available at www.bigcanoepoa.org.

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