As Captain Milazzo welcomed new officers and crew to the 111 bridge at last Thursday’s board meeting, it was steady as she goes. The following are a few highlights from the captain’s log of what a few are now calling Casa Concordia.
First order of business, to better navigate this and future meetings, the Captain began by passing out his agenda for 2015. It included active agenda topics requiring cost estimates, and also items “tabled until reserve funds regenerate.” Milazzo also then added a few items to Thursday’s agenda, namely an update on the ship’s communications system (i.e. cable and internet), as well as an executive closed session to discuss the status of the gaping hole in the starboard bow (i.e. lawsuits)
Lieutenant-Commander Jane Santogrossi then gave a report on the ship’s finances. New to the position of treasurer, Santogrossi took a whole new and bold approach. Rather than getting bogged down in all the details associated with lots of numbers and stuff, rather than the disclosure typically presented at board meetings since the Association’s launch, Santogrossi presented an abbreviated micro run down. In three sentences: “We take in about $4M in income and have $3M in expenses per year. We are about $1M in debt and are undertaking various capital projects. Budget-wise, we’re up in a few areas as in some saving as in utilities and are behind in others, most notably legal fees.” To summarize: it’s steady as she goes… just a little more stealthily.
First Mate Sara Rudnik then gave the management report. Rudnik’s report covered the annual ship-wide inspection, hallway soffit status, pool facility management, and the issues related to the newly reconstructed loading dock.
– As to Unit Inspection, Officer Santogrossi asked if it were to look for “leaks, infestations, hording?” Rudnik quick corrected that and said it was to check batteries for smoke detectors, Rules & Regs required fire extinguishers, building code violation of PVC piping, and toilet supply lines. Other than Officer Brush then commenting on how fast and imprecise the last inspection was, the discussion primarily focused on the potential flooding problem associated with the supply lines.
According to Rudnik, the water-line problem is widespread here. She said: “An estimated 80 to 90 percent of the units here have plastic connections to toilet’s water supply line. These connections can, and do, break over time.” Indeed, it is a known plumbing industry issue . That said, the question Rudnik had for the captain and his officers was, as the undertaking to change these connections would necessarily exceed the capability of the crew maintenance staff, will the board mandate that cabin owner’s make the change themselves? Rudnik also pointed out that as a lot of units do not have individual water shutoffs, meaning the each change would necessitate a building water shutoff. That in and of itself would mean a huge and potentially long-term building-wide resident inconvenience. No decision was made.
– As to Hallway Soffit Mock Up, First Mate Rudnik reported that we are currently waiting for the City Building Department to do an inspection. The project contractor (Oswego-based Inside-Out) is substantially complete with coring. “Next is the piping” said Rudnik.
Officer Brush asked, “Will there be paint samples for homeowners to review?” Officer Diana Shay said that the Design Committee (composed of Diana’s sister Monica, Richard Evans’ wife Jodie and Diana) were working on this. That “the paint would be best viewed on the soffit” and “homeowners would just have to be patient.”
– As to the Pool Facility Management, Rudnik reported that she had emailed a courtesy reminder of the Pool Rules & Regs to residents. But she wanted to confirm with the board how management was to work with staff. Her proposal was that like last year the weekend maintenance crew (i.e. Timmie and Nijaz) would do a pool walk around during their shifts. They will “advise” violators and Sara will subsequently issue violation notices for fines. Captain Milazzo insisted that there be regular inspections. Officer Shay asked that the deck door signage include “Call door staff” to avoid owner self-policing. Brush asked why we weren’t hiring a pool attendant. Rudnik responded that as “we have no pool-pass system” (i.e. no formal pool management policy), actually hiring someone to do it resulted in no way to measure payback. To summarize: it’s steady as she goes.
– As to the Loading Dock Issue, apparently there are problems with the concrete with the newly installed grossly over-budget loading dock. And apparently, the contractor will not return Rudnik’s calls. And apparently we are outside of any warranty. The cost of repair is TBD.
The Captain and Officers approved the following:
– Subject to changes, they approved distribution of 2015 Annual Audit to Homeowners. Typos aside, midshipman and new board director Tom McDonald pointed out that information appearing on/about page 20 was outdated and possibly misleading. Discussion ensued. Sudler Management EVP Bob Graf pointed out that on page 14 it is noted that the information in question was/is based on last reserve study. New director Susan Koralik suggested that the misunderstanding might be resolved if there were a paragraph showing updates. Again, subject to TBD changes, distribution was approved.
– The board also approved a change order for the already over budget Soffit Construction Project. Note: $400K was just approved in the 2015 budget. Soon thereafter the contract with Oswego-based Inside-Out was then approved for $430K. Thursday the board approved an additional $14.5K to disconnect the recently connected fire annunciator system during the soffit construction.
– Subject to changes, they approved the new Management Contract. As there have been several amendments to the original contract with Sudler in 2012, Captain Milazzo would like to see a unified contract. The only issues of any consequences were an increase of the property manager’s discretionary fund from $2,500 to $4,000; and an increase in Sudler’s monthly fee. No real reason was given why Sara needed an increase in her discretionary account. As to Sudler’s increase in fees, McDonald (a former CFO) pointed out that their increase over 3 years was equal to 8.3%, higher than consumer price index. Brush asked if the fees we are being charged were competitive with other Sudler clients. No answer of any substance was given. No due diligence offered. But the increase was unanimously approved.
– And lastly, the board heard from sole member of the Engineering and Technology Committee Patrick Variali. Patrick presented a 5-year contract for a great package of bundled services in an industry whose bundled model is, by all expert accounts, about to unravel. Sara will have competitive bids by the next board meeting. And to appease Variali and RCN, in the meantime, RCN contract will be given to legal for review.
STEADY AS SHE GOES
But despite the obvious listing to port and grounding on the rocks, there’s hope! According to Wikipedia there’s hope: “In July 2014, the Costa Concordia was refloated by large caissons attached to its sides and was towed 200 miles to its home port of Genoa. There the ship will be dismantled and materials from the ship will be recycled.” Figuratively speaking, of course.
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