HOLLY LAKE RANCH is my home. We moved here to be a part of a community with a golf course, beautiful lakes, a large variety of amenities and gated security. Holly Lake Ranch has large beautiful homes on the shores of the lake or surrounding the golf course. We have beautiful homes sitting in the middle of acreage. We have wonderful homes built for the retirees wanting to downsize and move away from manicured lawns and lots of upkeep. We have homes for the first time home buyers that are looking for a safe community in which to raise their children. We have homes that fit the needs of people looking to minimize their housing costs. We have vacation homes where wonderful memories are made on weekends and holidays. In every section of Holly Lake Ranch, no matter the size of the house, it is home for our owners.
When I decided to run for office, I learned as much Holly Lake history as I could, the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. I had some great mentors who had been residents for years. They covered the A Board, the B Board, the doings of the developers, the changes in Holly Lake Ranch including the loss of the acreage, the building of the restaurant, the first deer counts, managing the wildlife, the conditions of the lakes, and every aspect of the lives they had led here for many years. It has been delightful to watch Holly Lake change since we built our first house in 1997. Today, there are a large number of young families that share Holly Lake Ranch with the retirees, and the young family numbers are growing! Knowing the history and looking back helps me to know what to look for as we move forward. As the saying goes, “Your windshield is always larger than your rear view mirror”… as we look forward to the wide open future (the windshield), the occurrences in our history play only a small role (the rear view mirror).
With this being said, the current Board of Directors (minus one) were notified September 12, 2015, by the Concerned Citizens that they will attempt to recall four members of the board. They said they will be going door to door if necessary and seeking owners to join with them in their quest to unseat this group of board members who pledged during the campaign to listen to owners, evaluate what the best plan is for Holly Lake, but above all else, to do everything in their power to abide by the laws that affect our HOA and to move from operating like a “good old boy” business to the $3.2 million dollar business that we are. What we are asking every owner to do is to stop, think about what’s in our rear view mirror, think about what this board has accomplished so far, and look through the windshield to see where we are going. Which way do you want Holly Lake Ranch to go? Forwards or Backwards?
- We can go forward as we have been doing by abiding by Texas Property Code 209 and posting all meetings 72 hours in advance, with an agenda and minutes that delineate all actions and discussions by the Board. Minutes are posted on the HLRA website for all members to read prior to final approval at the next board meeting.
- We moved forward and met our fiduciary responsibilities as Board members and ensured all funds of HLRA were covered by FDIC insurance in their respective bank depositories. It took this Board exactly ten (10) days after taking office to ensure all funds were covered. When we took office, there was more than $200,000 in UNPROTECTED funds on deposit.
- We went forward by taking steps to ensure that at the end of 2015 a full financial audit can be conducted. An attempt was made when books were closed December 2014, which failed, and changes ensued. We outsourced the financial record keeping, bills payable and payroll to McNeely & McNeely and ensured a Certified Public Accounting Firm with no political bias was in control of funds. They are doing an outstanding job at less cost than having an in-house accountant. Their system has provided quick and easy access to budget information and what has been spent in actual time to the General Manager, office staff, Board and Department Managers. By utilizing a local accounting firm, we get the benefit of having Steve McNeely attend meetings when necessary, at no extra costs to us. We will have a full audit at the close of 2015, which will be the first full audit in eight years. No public business goes that long without an audit for the safety of the people whose funds we control!
- Payroll issues were detected and corrected immediately so we moved forward. Payroll was trimmed from processing 72 payrolls per year (weekly for hourly staff and bi-monthly for salaried staff) to 26 payrolls per year with all staff paid on the same schedule every other week. Time clocks will soon be in place which will automatically upload employee’s time to the payroll system and ensure employees are paid for hours worked.
- We moved forward by restoring an excellent working relationship with Silverleaf, the Resort Timeshare Company, that shares our amenities. By restoring that relationship, we were able to receive $19,000 for amenities this year and a pledge of half the cost of replacing a building used for boat rentals on the shores of Holly Lake next year (about $10,000).
- We took advantage of the copious amounts of owner expertise that lives at Holly Lake Ranch to establish committees to review overall operations of different departments or procedures, and make recommendations for improvements. Having people who have spent their careers in finance, law enforcement, human resources, construction, etc. is a tremendous asset when looking at the various operations. Many policies have been revised and updated to bring them into compliance with state laws, accurately recorded at the Wood County Courthouse, and posted on the HLRA website so homeowners have easy access. Work continues on these updates in many areas as we continue to move forward.
- The two sections of the ranch that are separated from the main area, Section 3 and Section 6, have seen improvements in their amenities this year and will see more in the future. They had been overlooked when beautification projects were undertaken, but are now moving forward, not deteriorating. The pool pavilion was redone in Section 3, making the third pool an attractive asset to owners from all over the ranch who didn’t want to go to the more crowded pools on the East and West sides.
- The fountain at the signature golf hole at the entrance to Holly Lake Ranch was replaced after being damaged by lightning and is a beautiful sight to see when you enter the gate.
- Insurance coverages were seriously lacking in many areas. We have moved forward and worked with our established agent of many years to bring policies up to date, ensure the amenities are accurately covered with the policy needed, and should a disaster occur, HLR is protected. By ensuring we have good coverage, we protect the owners from an unexpected assessment to cover damages by fire, hail or other disasters.
- This Board has moved forward in the computer age and obtained technology coverage for the records stored on our servers, ensured that there is an offsite backup that is done daily, and that our assets are covered against unexpected losses. By insisting these policies be in place, we are avoiding the amount of time & money required to restore a system or facing the damage a fire, a computer crash or other such incidents could have on HLR if we were a victim of a computer catastrophe and had to restore all of the systems.
- There is a budgeting and strategic plan being worked on by the Finance Committee to assess major expenditures pending in the next five to ten years. We are assessing roofs in need of replacement, heat and a/c units that are not functioning properly, reviewing golf course irrigation renovation and determining how to do these things within the budget that we have to avoid any dues increases, and maintaining the staffing levels we have. We will be able to share this information once we have the research done, the numbers crunched and the information in a presentable format.
- The Interim General Manager is a retired professional with a strong leadership background. As he stated, and we reiterate, the General Manager need not be an expert in golf maintenance, running a pro shop, maintaining the grounds, providing security, running a restaurant or keeping the financial records, all of those things are present in our department managers and contractors. The General Manager’s role is to be a strong manager and pull everyone together to work for the betterment of HLR.
- Last, but by no means least, this board has moved forward to restore owner’s rights and bring Holly Lake Ranch up to the level of having by-laws equal with most other HOA’s of our size. The previous board rescinded owner’s right to recall or to veto an action by the Board of Directors. The right to recall has already been restored, and other rights will follow which include owner’s rights to vote on changes to the by-laws, the owner’s right to vote on capital improvement projects in excess of $100,000, and several others. The Governing Documents Committee has the draft of these under review by the attorney that represents the association. He is a renowned HOA owner’s rights advocate that offers excellent advice to the Board to lay the groundwork to protect owner’s rights in years to come.
There have been many changes from the way things were done in the past, and we believe Holly Lake Ranch is a better community with a solid business base because of those changes. We are protected by a great security force that we do not intend to dismantle, despite what stories are being spread. They may drive a different truck someday, but they will still be patrolling, only using less gasoline! We have made changes in the top management which we felt were necessary and were not easy as the General Manager was a favorite of many owners. Due to legalities, we cannot explain the details, but stand behind our decision and believe it will strengthen Holly Lake Ranch in the long term.
The recall effort began with the notification on Saturday. They have 45 days to collect signatures of 51% of the owners. Once collected, the signatures are verified. If they are successful, the Director(s) being recalled have an opportunity to address the owners prior to the commencement of the actual vote of all members. Anyone who may have signed the petition(s) that wishes to remove their name may do so prior to the actual vote of all members. To achieve the recall and remove the board members, the simple majority of all owners voting determines the outcome. Another election must then be held to fill any vacant positions. A vote to remove the directors will cost approximately $3200 and an election to fill the vacancies will cost another $3200 for a total of $6400 spent.
When we took office, the owners wanted change. But was it only change that doesn’t upset them? Or was it to move forward and make changes to protect all owners and properties at Holly Lake Ranch? We will continue to work to improve or institute written policies that were not in place when we took office. Those policies will continue to be established by utilizing owners who have expertise in the specific areas we are working on. We ask you to stop, think of what has been accomplished, and make your decision on whether or not you sign a petition to remove Director(s) for doing what you elected them to do. You must also think of who will take our place….and give it some serious thought as to who would be willing to step in…..would they take us forward? Or backwards?
Sandy Wells, Treasurer
Holly Lake Ranch Association Board of Directors